Does Christian Pulisic have a Life Coach or Sports Psychologist?

Teesta Sisodia-Sullivan   October 24, 2019

Last week, our nation watched in shock when Christian Pulisic was subbed out during the second half of the 2019-2020 CONCACEF Nations League game against Canada.  He was clearly upset and emotional on the sidelines.

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Over the last few years, Pulisic has been celebrated as the greatest US Soccer player of all time.  America is so quick to shout out its next great soccer star, that it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on our young talent.  It is very easy for developing players to lose their mojo when their game gets shaken.  Even seasoned athletes can suffer from a loss in confidence. 

Am I suggesting that Pulisic’s career is over? Absolutely not!  He is incredibly talented, ridiculously quick, with an innate ability to know where to pass.  There is no doubt he is an incredible soccer player!

Do I know for certain that his confidence has been rattled?  No, I do not; this is what I suspect.  The US has done a tremendous disservice to Pulisic.  By building him up as the greatest soccer star to ever come out of the US, it has put an incredible amount of pressure on a young man who is still in the developmental stage of his career. 

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images CONCACEF game against Cuba on October 1, 2019

Can Pulisic Recover from Slump?

Sports Psychology has become a well-recognized science focusing on elite athlete performance.  Many top athletes have credited their performance to their work with these professionals.  Sports psychologists and trained Life Coaches can assist athletes improve their performance by teaching mental skills such as relaxation and visualization to help them learn to stay focused and in the zone.  

Life Coaches and Sports Psychologists can help an athlete: 

  • Establish a pregame routine to help prepare for games
  • Train athletes to use visualization in addition to physical movement for skill mastery
  • Teach mental skills to improve performance and competition 
  • Create an alter ego for when the athlete is on the pitch and teach them how and when to turn this on
  • Help athletes combat and overcome fears of performing poorly
  • Fine tune ability to hold focus

As competition increases, it is common for athletes to question their ability to compete. Sometimes this results in over thinking rather than just playing.  As an athlete begins to question himself, his reaction time slows down.  This can create a self-fulfilling spiral in which the athlete’s shaken confidence causes them to become more hesitant which slows down their play and decreases their confidence even more. 

Koby Bryant, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods... These top athletes have all utilized the services of life coaches or sports psychologists during their careers.

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Returning to Pulisic, I believe that had he been a young European who was signed by Chelsea, very few would have noticed if he played or not.  Most likely he would have been loaned to smaller clubs gaining game time and experience.  After a couple years, he would return ready to face the challenges of playing at a Premier League level. 

By focusing so much attention on him now, the US has placed a teenager in a position where his every move is scrutinized.  I have no doubt he will recover. He is a tremendous athlete.  Professional athletes and clubs today fully recognize the importance of sports psychologists and trainers.  My guess is that he is already working with someone.  I certainly hope so.  I am looking forward to seeing him lead the US towards claiming greatness on the pitch!

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