PFA Business School

Programme Certificate

Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Football is not just a physical game, but also an emotional one. Given that players are usually in peak physical condition, it is the emotional field that is one of the key tools for managers, coaches and psychologists to help players develop the best version of themselves and also for teams to achieve the best performance. Throughout this course, we will explore questions such as:

  • Are emotions related to player and team performance?
  • How can emotional management improve the performance of players and teams?
  • How does a lack of cohesion affect team performance, and how can we address it?
  • What strategies can we use to motivate players and teams?

Working from a practical perspective, we will analyse all the emotional conflicts that often arise during a season, such as emotional challenges of players (ego, fear, frustration and empathy), lack of team cohesion, mental approach to matches and fatigue. The Certificate in Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership will help students to develop their leadership skills in football and to encourage their players and team to achieve better results.

The PFA Business School and its faculty of top experts in Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership have designed the following programme as the most specialised football leadership programme for coaches and managers.

Course Co-Director: Tim Harkness

Course Co-Director: Lee Richardson

With special contribution from Drewe Broughton:

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Course Objectives and Target Audience


  • Enhance the skills necessary to improve emotional intelligence and psychological approach to help players manage their emotions and achieve optimal team performance during every match and season.
  • Develop an understanding and empathetic connection with players to provide them with better service and advice, not only in the field of sport, but also in their personal development and emotional leadership.

Target Audience

  • Current and former PFA members.
  • Managers, members of the coaching team and technical managers.
  • This program may also be of interest to professionals who work with players, such as psychologists, player agents, sports directors, sports club management staff, club managers, and player care managers.

Course Content

Psychological and emotional approach to the player

Understanding the Psychological scene for players

The psychological approach to the player:

  • Variables that affect player performance
  • How the brain works: System 1 and 2
  • How emotion works: PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment)
  • Mental Strength VS Mental Health

How the psychological approach can be crucial to success in football

Understanding the fundamentals of emotional intelligence

What defines emotional intelligence?

  • Relationship skills
  • Values system and social awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Self awareness, self management and resilience

Appling EI with Players: Identify and managing emotions

  • Personality and its ways of expressing itself
  • Attitude, persistence and perseverance
  • Fear & control
  • Ego, performance
  • Vulnerability vs invincibility
  • Trust & belief
  • Authenticity. The I AM
  • Empathy, the key to unlocking potential
  • Sweat & courage

Methodology for working with players from a psychological perspective

  • The interview with the player
  • Building trust
  • Key questions
  • Feedback and working with mistakes

Connect with the new generation of players

  • Characteristics of the new generation
  • Their concept of hierarchy
  • Managing attitude

Motivational strategies for players

  • Working with focus, motivation and confidence
Psychological and emotional approach to the team

Variables affecting group performance

Analysing the psychological state of the team

  • The team cohesion
  • Level of trust between members
  • Identification of team conflicts
  • How the team behaves
  • Level of motivation

Build team culture

  • Defining our own team purpose, value system, role models, standards, attitude and behaviours
  • Balance individual desire for success with sacrifice to create team purpose

Psychological conflict management in teams

  • Starting the season with new players in the team
  • Managing team cohesion conflicts
  • Managing team EGO conflicts
  • Building an international team: the diversity perspective

Team motivation strategies (0,75 month)

  • The different motivating climates
  • Types and style of motivating
  • Individual vs team motivation strategy
  • Facing team conflicts
  • Motivate a team that has been winning or losing for too long
  • Increase the team's commitment to the goal
  • Stressed and overloaded team
  • Problems that may arise when motivating
Psychological and emotional approach to the match

Analyse psychological approach to the match

  • Psychological strengths and weaknesses that affect to the team’s performance
  • False / right assumptions

Match motivation strategies

  • Facing a key match (derby, final or playing to survive)
  • Working on mental strength
  • Playing against a higher/lower ranked team
  • Home and away matches
  • How to be prepared to play against different game styles
  • Build a purpose for each game and create stories that motivate players
  • Psychological approach to face a penalty
Psychological and emotional approach to the season

Variables affecting group performance during the season

Season psychological challenges

  • Setting up a team culture
  • Prevention of mental exhaustion
  • Wellbeing
  • Working on mental health
  • When the team is in a position where it will neither win nor lose at the end of the season
  • Create a purpose for the season and keep the players committed to it
  • Pressure of promotion / relegation
Leadership Development
  • Team conflict management
  • Creation and management of the Coaching Staff
  • Feedback and communication skills: before, during and after the matches
  • Negotiation and influence
  • Managing difficult conversations
  • Leadership

Course Delivery

Course Length

Course Length

The length of the course is one academic year - 10 months.



This course is taught in English.                                

Date of Course


From November 2023 to October 2024:

  • A two-hour virtual session every two weeks.
  • Four face-to-face sessions.


On completion of the course, you will receive a postgraduate certificate in Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership awarded by the University of Portsmouth in collaboration with the PFA Business School.

Fees and Grants

Fees & Grants

The programme admission fee is £5,900 per year. Current and former PFA members can apply for a 15% discount and a grant of £2000. 

PFA Business School

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