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Ben John Goalkeeper

Without Phil's help I would never have become a professional footballer.

I've just been looking at your website, and i must say how good it is. Its really interesting and very informative and from just having a quick scan thro its got me buzzing just thinking about winning and all the different psychological and mental factors in which you helped me overcome and enable me to improve many aspects of my game and help me realise that setting goals and targets both on and off the feild have got me to where iv oftened only dream'nt about. thanks mate you really are an inspiration.hope to see you soon.
Ben John Goalkeeper

Western-Super-Mare (Conference South)

Revival is all in the Mind

by Peter Orchard (Forest Green Rovers FC)
Gloucester Echo 7th December 2007

Confidence is perhaps the most sought-after commodity at any football club. Forest Green's players have been awash with it during a remarkable season, and one man who is not surprised is sports psychologist Phil Johnson. A former Bolton player and UEFA Level 2 coach, Johnson is well placed to appreciate the importance of mental strength in football. He is one of only 12 FA-approved sport and exercise psychologists, and worked at Bristol City, Swindon Town, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool before linking up with Rovers in January. Johnson, 53, said: "I have a colleague at the University of Gloucestershire, where Forest Green train. At the time the team were near the bottom of the league, so I approached (manager) Jim Harvey and asked if my skills might be of benefit to him. He was very receptive to the idea, and I started working two days a week with the players and coaching staff." Johnson's first task was physiological rather than psychological, having noticed the club's tendency to concede late goals. "They were losing a lot of points in the last 15 minutes of games and it occurred to me it might be to do with the players' recovery time," he said. "I suggested alterations to their dietary habits and hydration, which coincided with Jim pushing to make them fitter, and results picked up markedly." Johnson then moved on to his real area of expertise, assessing how best to motivate the players and improve mental toughness. Rovers emblems and photos of winning matches were emblazoned on the dressing room walls at the New Lawn, while players were encouraged to express themselves and become leaders on the pitch. "Communication is a huge factor in any winning team, particularly where there are lot of young players like at Forest Green," said Johnson. "The manager, coaches and senior players all play a role in that, and it's certainly not about me dictating to them." Harvey said: "The mental side of football is becoming more important, particularly at the top of the profession. At our level, anything that gets an extra one or two percent out of the team is worth exploring."

More information about Johnson's work is at www.sportandperformancepsychology.co.uk