Dean Gur

The Winning Mindset: Israel’s National Football Team and the Power of REBT

Israeli football players during a football match between Germany and Israel in Sinsheim, Germany, on March 26, 2022.
Eran Zahavi, Omri Ben Harusz and Manor Solomon of Israel during the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifiers match between Poland and Israel.

Since its first and only world cup qualification in 1970, the Israeli football national team has been struggling to leave a mark in the world’s football arena. The road to glory is never easy, but this time the team has a chance to finally make history in the upcoming 23-24 UEFA Euro qualifiers. After decades of near-misses and heartbreaking last-minute losses, the Israeli team has been drawn into a favorable group, and the expectations are sky-high for the players to bring the country its long-awaited Euro qualification. The dream is within reach, and the stage is set for an unforgettable performance – but will the Israeli football national team seize the opportunity and make history?

The Pressure of Performing on the National Stage

In the high-stakes world of professional football, and especially on the national football stage, players are faced with the constant challenge of performing under immense pressure and the possibility of failure, rejection, and unfairness. As the national team gears up for their upcoming tournament, the weight of expectation and the intensity of the Israeli people are all too real. The pressure to succeed is tangible, and in this unforgiving environment, success hinges on the ever-present question that echoes at every Shabbat dinner table: “will we make the cut, or are we again sitting this one out?”

It is no surprise then that the pressure of performing under the eyes of the whole nation can be overwhelming; just ask ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who once famously stated, “Taking a penalty kick with the nation relying on you? Talk about life or death!”. Another example comes from the legendary Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football Club’s manager from 1959 to 1974, who famously illustrated the pressure footballers experience with his statement, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”. Such an intense mentality often becomes a fertile ground for the rise of irrational beliefs, emotional dysfunctionality, and unproductive behaviors.

The Solution: Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

REBT is a revolutionary approach that’s been helping athletes achieve their full potential for decades. Developed by renowned psychologist Albert Ellis in 1955, REBT acknowledges that some thoughts can be irrational and thus harmful; These thoughts include over-demanding beliefs, where an athlete believes they must win at all costs; awfulizing beliefs, where failure is seen as the end of the world; self-depreciation, where losing is perceived as a personal failure; and other irrational beliefs such as the belief that the outcome of the game is entirely out of the athlete’s control, or that a single mistake or setback will ruin their entire performance. While competition and facing tough opponents are crucial aspects of sports, the added pressure of irrational beliefs can make it difficult for even the most talented athletes to perform to their full potential and achieve success. REBT’s aim, therefore, is to turn irrational thoughts into rational ones, effectively changing an athlete’s mindset. This can involve adopting a flexible attitude towards success, seeing failure as a chance to improve, developing a resilient mindset to handle setbacks, and accepting oneself regardless of the outcome. By transforming irrational beliefs into rational ones, REBT can greatly enhance an athlete’s performance on the pitch. REBT has been scientifically proven to be a game-changer for footballers. One peer-reviewed study showed its ability to reduce pre-match anxiety in professional footballers; REBT has been documented in another study to deliver lasting results – even six months post-therapy. REBT’s advantages don’t stop with players – coaches can also benefit from this approach. Through educational workshops, coaches can sharpen their communication skills, boost team motivation, and strengthen relationships with their players.

The Israeli National Football Team has a golden opportunity to tap into the benefits of REBT by hiring a psychologist who specializes in this approach. It’s time for the management to make an informed decision and invest in the mental well-being and success of the team.

About the Author
Dean Gur is an Israeli post-graduate student of Sport Psychology based in London, UK, with a strong interest in increasing awareness of the benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy among high-performing individuals in sports and business environments.
Related Topics
Related Posts