Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has admitted he spends four hours per month visiting a renowned sports psychologist to ensure he is always ready for matches donning the United jersey.
The centre-back has been really one of the most improved players this season and is now a key figure of Louis van Gaal’s defence line, not only that, he has also become an important contributor for his country also.
Smalling now attributes his recent improvement to regular visit to a sports psychologist, who according to the English defender helps mentally to prepare him for the gruelling pressures of representing Manchester United.
In a recent interview he told: “I go see him [the psychologist] twice a month. A couple of hours each time.
“He was recommended through a friend. At first I was quite a sceptic. You picture it being for bad boys who need to be reformed. I thought, ‘Well, I won’t need that.’
“But it’s not like that. Anyone can benefit. For me, it was a case of focusing. You can have so many different demands; trying to please the fans, pleasing the manager, please yourself.
“You can put too much pressure on yourself. You can start forcing balls, maybe trying too hard. You make things too complicated. It’s about uncluttering the mind.” Smalling clarified why he goes to the psychologist.
“We do a lot of visualisation in terms of future games, what’s coming up. So if there’s a big game against City in the week I will be visualising different things so I am not too hyped up.
“People might think it’s all about getting up for a game but it’s often the opposite.” He further said.
“It makes sense to me. You work every day technically, physically but so much is in the mind. Look at when players go on big scoring runs, and then stop scoring. It’s not that they are any different physically, it’s very often mental, confidence, concentration.”
Back in October Chris Smalling however was seen as the next captain of United after Rooney by Van Gaal.
“Wayne Rooney is the captain and then Michael Carrick, but when they are gone, Chris Smalling can do that,” Van Gaal said despite sometimes struggling to get the defender’s name right, “So I will push him in that situation.
“Every player makes the steps by himself. I put Chris in the situation (to play regularly) and I help him. I advise and the player can take it on board or not, but it is his responsibility. He has done it by himself.”
Manchester United have put together a slow but steady start to this campaign that has seen van Gaal’s men becoming the meanest defence in Premier league so far, conceding only 10 goals. However, lack of scoring has been a major concern for the Red Devils.