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England might use psychologist to help penalty takers in World Cup

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Will it finally cure their penalty pain?

Alex Livesey

According to report from BBC Sport, Roy Hodgson will consider the use of a penalty psychologist in England's preparation for the upcoming World Cup. He also has enlisted the help of Sir Dave Brailsford, Performance Director for British Cycling and team principal for Team Sky cycling team. Sir Dave Brailsford will join the national team's preparation in Miami just before the World Cup, specifically he will talk about the mental aspect needed to succeed in major events, having been involved in British Cycling recent success at the Beijing and London Olympics.

Meanwhile on the subject of using a penalty psychologist, this is what Hodgson have to say:

"We have some confident penalty takers, but others less confident and it's how we get to them"

"We are considering the possibility of inviting someone with us but it would be someone accepted by the group."

"It will be about their confidence and their ability to block out the next morning's headlines."

"If a psychologist can find a way to block that out then we'd be very, very happy."

While England have some confident penalty takers among their ranks, perhaps a result of being their respective clubs regular penalty taker, such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, there are others like Wayne Rooney, who stopped taking penalties for Manchester United after missing one against West Ham in an FA Cup tie a year ago (after a series of misses previously). Even the most confident of player sometimes struggles with failure and that affect their confidence.

Thus, in a tournament like the World Cup the ability to recover quickly from disappointment will be crucial. The players in Brazil will definitely benefit from being able not to deal with exorbitant amount of pressure from the media and not to be reminded of England's previous failures. Indeed sometime the media and the fans get sucked in into the narrative of England's failures in the penalty shoot-out or England's "rivalry" against Germany, and their relative poor record against them (surprisingly, in 29 meetings, England have won 12 to Germany's 14, not so bad eh?).

Preparing for a tournament like the World Cup with massive pressure from the media and fans, does not only require a physical and tactical preparation, but also a mental preparation. While we probably won't see Roy Hodgson playing a clip of England players added with bits and pieces from the movie "300" in Brazil (like what Pep Guardiola did for Barcelona before the Champions League final in 2009), his willingness to approach other figures who have been successful in their respective fields and utilizing psychologist to help England players with spot kicks, is definitely a welcomed sight.