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on 27 June 2010
I read this book whilst studying for a Masters degree in Sport Psychology, and I have an academic background in Psychology. "Psychology in Football" is a great place to start for those interested in persuing a career in sport psychology. This book would be an interesting and insightful read for, amongst others, students of sport psychology at undergraduate or masters level, academic researchers, applied sport psychologists or coaches and performers from a range of sports.

It is fair to say that many students of sport psychology would dream of working in Premiership football, and Mark Nesti is one of very few sport psychologists to offer lengthy experience working in this role. Whilst providing insights in to the demanding and often brutal world of professional football, Nesti discusses and reflects upon his experiences of delivering sport psychology in a volatile and performance-driven environment. His arguments are clear and well-formulated, and are backed up by a wealth of literature from a range of disciplines that include sport psychology, psychology, philosophy and business. This book offers advice at the personal level for how to apply sport psychology effectively, but also ethically and with integrity.

Mark Nesti practices an existential-phenomenological framework. His previous book ([ASIN:0415393248 Existential Psychology and Sport: Implications for Research and Practice]]) provided a detailed account of the existential approach, driven by an extensive review of the underlying literature from philosophy. "Psychology in Sport" offers an easier to digest account of HOW a sport psychologist can apply an existential framework, with examples based upon his own experiences delivering a sport psychology service. Nesti challenges many of the assumptions that are dominant in contemporary sport psychology literature, whilst arguing for a more holistic approach to applied sport psychology than is evident in the psychological skills training literature.

I believe that students and experts with an interest in a wide range of sports can learn something new and thought-provoking from "Psychology and Football".
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on 1 December 2011

Phil Johnson C. Psychol
Chartered Sport & Exercise Psychologist; Dip Psych Football.

Routledge Taylor Francis 2010

This is a most refreshing book, in its content and its clear applied focus. It is also a rare opportunity for sport psychologists, students, trainees or applied consultants to have an insight into the workings of elite professional football, but viewed from perspectives they might not ordinarily find in sport psychology literature or `applied' textbooks. Mark Nesti is Reader in Sport Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, and communicates 15 years experience working in Premiership football, some achievement in itself!

The book is not about applying mental skills training, but how a sport psychologist practicing existential psychology, in tandem with organizational psychology, has helped structure an approach to sport psychology support, that has more focus on creating the right environment for performance, rather than target the performers exclusively. In considering group cohesion, dynamics, values, philosophy, communications, transitions, identity, team building, supporting the support staff, this is no conventional applied sport psychology text. Dealing with topics less common to sport psychology practice such as spirituality, and religion, within a multicultural team ethos, and how existential approaches facilitate self-development and community, are features that spark the imagination.

A central tenet of Nesti's work is understanding football culture, and indeed specific club culture, comparing for example the people and staff of Bolton, and Newcastle with Chelsea and Arsenal, indicate how values from the local communities impact on their perception of their teams, and how values within the club may or may not reflect its support base. Thus the environment of the club, physical and indeed cultural affects everyday actions. Mike Forde, Director of Football at Chelsea in his `foreward' is clear that culture and environment are key to success, and sport psychologists have the opportunity to influence this positively.

Found more commonly in recent applied sport psychology literature, is the `beyond mental skills training' statement, supporting a wider brief for sport psychologists. Additionally is some criticism for the lack of `applied' literature, and a gap in the education and training of sport psychologists to make them fit for purpose. These are views, which I also support. The approach Nesti takes also goes beyond cognitive behavioural approaches, and more with "new concepts such as existential anxiety, identity, values and spirit".

In the detail of the book, setting the scene for entering professional football as a sport psychologist provides rare and positively helpful guidance, a must read. The counseling approach strengthens the need for sport psychologists to develop this ability and skill if they are to flourish at all levels of elite sport. The concept that the sport psychologist supports the support staff, is certainly one I wholeheartedly support, the dozen or so clubs I have worked. Concepts such as appraisal, humility, trust, leadership, are all examined within an organizational psychology framework, again not mainsteam sport psychology, but highly recommended as effective and well regarded. Spirituality, the role of a chaplin, interpersonal relationships within the dressing-room.
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on 12 July 2010
One of the best books I have read on Psychology in Professional sport, let alone just football. Mark Nesti describes many aspects that would take years of experience to learn in this superb resource. A must read for any one thinking of working in Professional Football
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on 16 May 2012
It is so refreshing to read a psychology book that comes from a completely different perspective. This book is not just another text that has chapter after chapter on the psychology topics, with a little application to football, instead this book is written from a completely applied perspective of Mark Nesti who has worked within the sport and talking about some of the applied challenges he has faced. A must read for all budding / applied sport psychologists.
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on 2 August 2012
Currently working in professional rugby union as a coach, with a strong sport science background, and massive appreciation for 'applied performance psychology', rather than clinical psychology, I was looking forward to reading this book. However I was deeply disapointed by the content and overall read of the book for the reasons below:

- Although the author does well to state the issues with clinical psychology and its disconnected relationship to the real world demands of professional sports club environments, I stll think a lot of what was discussed byt he author realisitcally in professional sport was not required as generaly these issues can be effectively dealt with and applied by high quality coaches. For example, meetings with players and using reflective practice to help a player move forward is a method used highly effectively by many high quality coaches and does not require the less experienced and clinical mind of a sport psychologist. The best coaches are outstanding psychologists, they can carry out and understand the fundamental thigns which are required to boost all elements of psyholocgy related to performance, and do so witihin the normal coach-athlete relationship,thus avoiding the somewhat mundane and often bizzare scenarios which are played out when a sport psychologist speaks to a player. Indeed, if coaches didnt need a sport psychologist then one might argue that such a role wouldnt exist and/or teams would not have issues with culture etc. My arguement would be that many coaches good and bad are just poorly educated on certain elements related to things such as maximising work ethic and just need to study the research and use their applied skills to deliver it. Furthermore, many clubs employ sport psychologists and never resolve, or in cases deepen issues they were originally bought into address.

- The book contained a lot of information which was either too strung out or not required. For example, most, if not all readers do not need an explanation regarding what the premier league is or its history.

- The constant reptition of the authors disagreement on what sport psychoogy really is and where it should go got irritating. A far point was made, however its constant appearance from no where in paragraphs throughout the book weared thin and was not required.

- The authors use of rather sensational, philosohpical phrases, sentances and quotes to explain things which could be explained far more simpily was mad. I got lost by what was being said on a number of occasions and given this is aimed at students and people who are unlikely to have a strong grasp of philosphy, was over kill. Selling itself as an applied psycholgoy book in professional football, I dont care about accient philosphy, I care about performance. Hence it was somewhat pot calling the kettle black as the author states sport psychology should always relate to performance, yet would often revert back to talking about confusing and grey philosophical statements. For example, the last sentance of the book highlights this, portrayed the author as trying to be a bit of a smart arse.

- The author made fair points and valid ones about the challenges of working in a professional sport environment, topics not usually covered in academic degree courses or in research papers. However one of the most disapointing things was the author did not go into any form of detail regarding the underpinnings of any fundamental psychological areas related to sport performance such as culture, mental toughness, cohesion and motivational climate. Covering this and then discussing applied ways to develop this #i.e. evidence based practice# would have been very interesting and valuable for the main type of reader this book was aimed at. For me the book suggests it will cover this and is a big attraction, yet fails compeltley on delivering it.

- There was an excessive use of the term 'the sport psychologist' which made the read very repetitive

- Finally, in reference to my first issue with the book, sport psyhcology from my own perspective, a professional coach who respects and is well read in this field, does not belong in the context the author outlines with their elaborate definitions. Psyhchology is simply a fundamental element of world class coaching. Understanding what underpins fundamental elements of psychology which relate to the sport performance environment and learning ways through your own experience as a coach to effectively and optimally deliver/improve these, is where the field of psychology in sport lies. The role of a sport psychologist should be to research the field in tbe context of the applied nature of performance sport, to help provide information to inform coaches of best practice. it is then the coaches who apply such findings to their own coaching philosphies and the environment, not a person who walks into a club and spends time their as a 'sport psychologist'.
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on 7 September 2010
Having eagerly awaited the book I found it laborious to read. I have been in professional football as a player, a coach and am just completing a degree in sports psychology. I have been involved at Premiership level and with International level players. I have also worked in elite level football as an analyst a mental skills advisor and education officer. Yes many of the vignettes I can see and can relate to but they are few and far between to give the outsider a real picture. There is a lot of theory and personal opinion but in my view more vignettes would lift the usefulness of the text.There is good information and good advice in the book but i'm not convinced the untrained eye could pick it out. Am I a better coach, potential psychologist or manager for reading this (YES, JUST). Is it the best and most informative book I have read in terms of becoming a sports psychologist in the future (NO, "I STILL DON'T THINK THERE IS A GOOD ONE AND I FULLY INTEND TO FILL THIS GAP ONE DAY"). I must also point out that the grammatical errors and misplaced words and spellings were a real shock to the system, something that I have had drummed into me at uni as very important, yet for a man of this standing to make so many errors is a pretty poor reflection on the profession. Doubtless that will be blamed on the publisher but as one 40 cap international player once said to me as he left for home on a Friday with his match day gear, "why would I let one of the kids clean my boots and rely on them when it's me who's going to play in them."

If you have time on your hands read it, if you are expectng this to be a guiding light the search goes on.
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