World cup pitch

What can we learn from the success of the England World Cup team?

Tasha Horton People

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about the England football teams success at the World Cup. Although they sadly didn’t bring football home they made a heroic effort, not only winning a penalty shootout but against all odds giving England fans hope and pride in their home team again. So after years of pretty dismal football what can we learn from the team who rose from the ashes?

Embracing psychology

After the failure of the 2014 world cup and the many before, with the hire of Gareth Southgate things had to change. The team hired a psychologist Pippa Grange who alongside Southgate worked to transform the mindset of the team turning them into the humble, hungry and joyful team you saw play. Before Southgate psychology was somewhat shunned not only by the England team by football players in general, not many would want to admit they used a psychologist. But the respect and support Southgate has shown Grange has helped the team to embrace this new psychological path.

Consequently, the team and fans have reaped the benefit as the England team have begun to write a new path in history unhindered by what’s come before all with a smile of their face, playing excellent football. Here are the 3 R’s at the England team have embraced in their psychological takeover.


The stories we choose to tell ourselves are highly important. If we tell ourselves a negative story we are going to perform badly, but if we tell ourselves a positive one we’re at least going to go down trying, we live the stories we tell ourselves. It’s all about the spin you put of things, you can reframe and change emotions and events. In the past penalties have been approached with dread shrouded in the failures of the past. What the England team have done is rethink the penalty from a threat to an opportunity. They’ve reframed the event as a positive one.

We fear things because of the story we tell ourselves about the future. By reframing events and picturing what we need to do to succeed we can prime ourselves to tell a positive story.


The England team has also discovered routine can help in tackling nerves, anxieties and helping you focus. Take Harry Kane, if he’s interrupted before taking a penalty he will start over completely – he’ll pick the ball up again, place it back on the spot and go through his whole routine. Compare this to the past where England players were so afraid and wanted to get it over as quick as possible. They were not focused or in the right mindset to perform well.

Routines can help keep you in the moment, keep your focused and in the right frame of mind. When faced with anxieties or pressure having that routine can kick-start your brain to bring you back to focus on the task at hand.


Grange believes that reflection is one of the most important aspects to success. Reflection allows a person to process an event, understand what happened and move on. She believes this is particularly important when it comes to failure. Grange believes failure is really useful and has no fear of it. Without failure how will you learn, grow and become better? By reflecting on failures instead of blocking them out you can develop as a person. In managerial roles, reflection is important too. Managers should reflect on the positive aspects of players performance with them rather than dragging them on the negatives. This works far better dwelling on mistakes.

Times have changed

The times have changed in football. The ear of whip cracking, hard-nosed and domineering managers is over. A softer form of football is emerging resulting in happier teams and consequently happier fans. We can feel the new energy, excitement and passion that has taken over the team and we enjoy watching them. Maybe the business world could learn something from the changes in football.