Former Nottingham Forest defender Gregor Robertson on the trials of being a professional footballer
LOOKING from the outside, teams or players that appear to be stuck in a 'rut' are a very hard phenomenon to explain.
How can a player who had been at the top of his game very quickly turn in to one who couldn't lace his own shadow's boots?
What makes a team who were flying high in the league deteriorate before supporters' eyes into one unable to buy a win?
I am studying part time for a degree in sports journalism and as part of a work placement at the Nottingham Post was asked to write an article on my experiences in this matter.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Quite simply, the answer very often lies between a footballer's ears rather than at his feet.
The mind has always been the most powerful weapon in a footballer's armoury.
The mind is what is needed to draw every last piece of fight and effort from the body, but the mind can also be a hindrance at times.
Negative thinking and nerves can badly affect performances but players and teams with the mental strength to overcome personal and collective trials will be the ones most likely to succeed.
In my experience, there are a host of reasons why a rut can begin but the result will always be a drop in confidence.
Simple bad luck, a glaring error, a missed sitter, an injury, a poor result – they can all trigger that little negative train of thought which can build up a head of steam and dent confidence.
It is not always self-confidence either.
Sometimes a lack of confidence in team-mates who are in bad form or injuries to key players can cause a side to doubt themselves that little bit collectively.
Lack of confidence in management can also cause a rut with a team feeling a sense of disillusionment.
From a personal point of view, I have made errors in my career and had dips in form and confidence.
I believe home crowds can have a big affect on individuals and teams.
I have played in teams that have thrived in playing away from home when the opposition supporters are venting their frustrations.
Team talks have often involved the importance of keeping the opposition quiet in the opening spells of these games because the crowd will "get on their backs."
I have also played for teams who have had the crowd on their backs and know full well that this can become oppressive and cause some players to fear making a mistake – a mind-set which is unlikely to get the best out of you.
On the flip side of this, a rampant and supportive crowd in full voice can drive their team on and make a real difference to players, often helping to create memorable occasions. In my opinion the crowd can be a huge force, for good or bad, for their team.
Notts County, despite their club record 17-match unbeaten away run, are finding life difficult at home, having picked up just two points at Meadow Lane since September.
I don't know the reason for this but I am sure it will have stemmed from a dip in confidence perhaps because of one of the reasons mentioned previously.
I am also sure they will turn around their home form sooner rather than later because I saw first-hand, while playing against Notts for Crewe on the opening day of the season, how good a side they are.
In fact, we have yet to face a better team this season.
Dips in form and confidence are a part of football.
It is how players and teams react to those spells which ultimately decide their success or failure – which teams win trophies or remain just also-rans.