The Head Game Interview Series (Pt 7) - Simon Moore

The Head Game Interview Series (Pt 7) - Simon Moore

Goal Keeper for Sheffield United FC

I met Si when he signed for Brentford FC at the young tender age of 18. The lad was tall but skinny as a rake and had no muscle on him. He was that weak that he could barely lift his own body weight when he tried to do a pull up. By the end of the season he was as strong as an ox and was doing pull-ups with 50kgs hanging off him.

Si is a perfectionist. Sometimes so much that it is more of a hinderance than a help. For example, last season he was focusing so much on getting his technique right, so perfect that his performance - that of keeping the ball out of the back of the net - suffered. He had spent three years at Cardiff under one of the best GK coaches in the business yet didn't feel as though he was any better than before. He felt "wooden" and slow. The reason being was that he was focusing so much on getting the technique right that he was having to think about everything rather than trusting his own instinct and playing a fluid game based on autonomous movement. With the mental aspect of performance, sometimes less is actually more.

On his move to Sheffield United FC he set a number of goals for that season with me: be available for the rest of the games that season (43), keep 18 clean sheets and win promotion. By the end of the season he not only achieved those goals but had also won the league AND had been voted as Goal Keeper of the season for League 1 by his peers. He is a shining example of what hard work, perseverance and having clear goals can do when you put them all together in a plan.

What position do you play and what do you think is the most challenging aspect of playing that position? 

I am a Goal Keeper and the most challenging aspect for that position has to be the mindset. You are on your own for long periods of the game and those periods are when you aren't really needed but you have to stay switched on. You have to be physical to play GK but you have to be mentally tough as well. One mistake and you can cost the team the game. You have to make split second decisions and reactions after long period of inactivity.

As a percentage, how much do you think the game of football is mental and how much is physical? 

I'd say for me it is 70% mental and 30% physical.

What do you do to mentally to prepare yourself for a game?

I prepare myself for the game as soon as the last game has finished. I go into a routine of recovery and then into improving my performance for the next game. I do things properly over the course of the week so that on Saturday I can accept how I feel on that day. I may have not got a full night's sleep but I know that I have done during the week so one night isn't going to make any difference to my performance. I also like to think of the bigger picture.

What is the most effective method you found to keep a positive mindset?

It is to take the onus away from me and having a reason to play. For me it isn't about me, it is about my family and close friends and making them proud of what I do.

What's the worst experience you have ever had in football and how did you deal with it? 

Losing the play-off finals. I used it as motivation to win promotion from League 1 at some point in my career and fortunately that has happened. It kept me focused on what I wanted because I can remember how bad I felt.

What would be your advice to a young, up and coming player?

Have a balance not just within football but within life as well. One thing I learnt last season was that you can be too focused on one thing. You can over do something and that can push you over the edge so your performance is affected. I learnt I needed to "chill out", relax and trust myself. I needed to have some enjoyment outside of football as well as working hard in training and games. You can only do so much before you burn out or over do it.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge for a professional footballer these days?

I think it is probably knowing how to control you emotions. I don't just mean getting angry or upset but also being able to deal with the highs and the lows in that there are in football. People will let you down and you will lose games. Having the ability to cope with all those emotions is really useful because it then allows you to focus on the important things.

If you have used Sports Psychology or Mental Skills Coaching, how has it help you to develop? If you haven't had either before, what stopped you from using those kinds of support?

I have studied the mental side of sport and I have also used people to help me along the way. Everyone is different and the important thing is to find what works best for you at that time and place. There is no one size fits all but it is important that you try to improve yourself.

In my next article I will be interviewing former Welsh International Centre Half, Andy Melville.

Mental Skills Coaching can significantly improve a player's confidence, consistency and capabilities. If you are a footballer, football coach, football agent or even a parent of a young footballer and would like to find out more about Mental Skills Coaching then contact me direct at al@leadoutcoaching.co.uk.