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This paper presents a reflective account of the sport psychology support work delivered across one season at a professional football academy by a neophyte practitioner. The development of the sport psychology program, referred to as Winning Mentality, was guided by Harwood and Anderson's (2015) 5C guidelines to psychological skills training.The Winning Mentality program outlined within this paper was delivered to the U9-U12 age groups and focused on the three key topics: (1) growth mind-set; (2) emotional control; and (3) confidence.The intervention comprised predominantly of classroom-based workshops delivered at the team level that focused on one topic per training cycle. Working with these young age groups uncovered a number of challenges that form the basis of this reflective account.Drawing upon child developmental literature was a necessity to ensure the effective matching of session content to the relevant age group. In addition, the heavily classroom-based nature of the program limited the youth footballers application of sport psychology techniques on the football pitch.Finally, opportunities to empower coaches with the knowledge and skills to apply psychological concepts within their training sessions should be welcomed.
Suzie Godfrey and Stacy Winter are with the School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary's University, London, UK.