Pressure in football – learn to cope with performance pressure!

The green of the playing field may appear peaceful, but beneath the surface, it often boils with mental tension. From the penalty spot to injury time – players are not only physically but also mentally under high pressure.

Where does this mental tension come from? Fear of failure? Stress? Performance pressure or the high demand to show a perfect performance on the field?

Professional football vs. amateur football

Especially in professional football, players experience reactions from clubs, sponsors, and, of course, particularly from fans. This ranges from insults in the stadium to social media storms and even death threats.

Amateur players are not spared from this pressure or, more precisely, mental strain. Maybe it’s not social media storms for them, but rather pressure from coaches or parents. What about a less successful player who might be bullied and excluded within their team?

How do I react when I am under immense performance pressure? How can I handle stress coming from myself or external sources? What does it look like inside me when I have to process defeats?

Stress and pressure can motivate an individual, but these factors can also take a completely different turn. From mental illnesses like burnout or depression to suicide.

The uhlsport family had to experience the latter with our goalkeeper Robert Enke. To prevent losing the joy of football, one can help oneself or seek help. There are various ways to do so.

Learn more about Robert Enke and his foundation HERE.

Mental Strain and its Effects

Mental stress in football can have significant effects on players’ performance. Mental strain due to high expectations, a desire for success, or failures can bring about physical discomfort and be emotionally noticeable.

Burnout syndrome is the most prevalent mental illness in football. Affected individuals may experience physical symptoms such as fatigue and lethargy, along with inner restlessness. Psychologically, the individual may withdraw and lose the enjoyment of the game and sport. It is important to note that this manifests differently in each person.

Depression is the second most common illness that affects the mental health of athletes.

Individuals with depression feel persistently downhearted and struggle to find joy in positive experiences. Even when something beautiful happens or the situation improves, the mood often remains gloomy and unchanged. Those affected frequently experience inner restlessness, and the autonomic nervous system is constantly overloaded.

Druck im Fußball

Mental Health Tips for Athletes

To avoid burnout in professional football as well as in amateur football, it is crucial to maintain a balanced lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

Prioritize Regular Breaks and Restorative Measures

The deliberate integration of restorative measures into the training plan is crucial for sustaining long-term performance in professional sports. These measures aim to minimize the strain on the body and facilitate efficient recovery.

  • Massages
  • Physiotherapeutic treatments
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

These practices accelerate regeneration. By systematically incorporating these restorative techniques, athletes can not only prevent injuries but also optimize their physical condition.

Consider Mental Health

Mental health is as significant in professional sports as physical fitness. Professional athletes can collaborate with sports psychologists to build mental strength. Together, they can develop strategies to incorporate mental training into the workout routine.

This helps athletes better cope with mental stress and pressure. Concentration improves, and individuals feel more relaxed, building greater self-confidence.

Recognize Early Signs of Overload

Early recognition of signs of overload is essential to intervene promptly and maintain health and performance in sports. Athletes should be particularly sensitive to signals from their bodies and minds indicating excessive stress or fatigue.

Warning signs include:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Inner restlessness
  • Difficulties in social relationships
  • Sleep disturbances and fatigue

Mental Health Training for Footballers

There is a diverse range of options available to maintain or enhance your mental health status, including relaxation exercises, yoga, or autogenic training. These offerings aim to keep the body and mind in harmony and foster inner peace.

At uhlsport, we have a strong partner in the Football Flow Academy regarding Mental Health. The program aims to improve you both as a footballer and as an individual in your daily life.

The offerings include:

  • Motivation training
  • Mental training
  • Resilience training
  • Heart coherence training

Heart coherence training activates the connection from the heart to the brain. Heart, mind, emotions, and body are in harmony, allowing the full physical and mental potential to be accessed. You enter the (football) “flow,” a state of peak performance. With breathing exercises and emotion control techniques, you learn to summon your best performance at any time, no matter how stressful the situation.

The benefits of heart coherence training include:

Stress Reduction:

– Heart coherence training can contribute to promoting autonomic nervous system balance, reducing the response to stressors.

Emotion Regulation:

– The method can improve the ability to regulate emotions by stabilizing and supporting the emotional state.

Improvement of Sleep Quality:

– By training heart rate variability, sleep patterns can be positively influenced, enhancing sleep quality.

Promotion of Relaxation and Well-being:

– The training can promote a sense of relaxation and increase overall well-being by supporting a state of inner calm and balance.

Enhancement of Mental Health:

– Heart coherence training has been associated with a reduction in anxiety, depression, and other mental stressors in some studies.

Promotion of Resilience:

– The method can improve the ability to be resilient to life challenges by influencing the body’s stress responses.


It is crucial for football players to take their mental health as seriously as their physical fitness at all levels. The pressure in football, whether from external expectations or internal demands, can lead to significant stress. Through a balanced lifestyle, restorative measures, early recognition of signs of overload, and mental training, athletes can enhance their performance while simultaneously safeguarding their mental health.