Eidevall: Mental training is an everyday approach

Jonas Eidevall and Beth Mead talk in the London Colney gym

Psychological support is paramount and not just a consideration when players undergo serious injuries, says Jonas Eidevall.

Speaking at his pre-Aston Villa press conference, our head coach reflected on our club's holistic approach.

"This is probably where elite sport has changed a lot in the last decade," said Eidevall. "Beforehand, mental training was used for a struggling team, a team that said they needed a mental coach because they were under a lot of pressure.

"Now, mental training is an everyday approach to our programme. We have a holistic approach to both the player and the team. We give our players full mental support every day, so it's not just an on-and-off button.

When asked about how Beth Mead in particular was coping with the pressure of returning to the side after almost a year on the sidelines, Eidevall shared that mental resilience is a skill our squad has been building gradually.

"Of course, there is pressure representing a club like Arsenal and that's why we need to develop these strengths and qualities over time. Mental training works exactly the same as technical training.

"We need to spend a lot of time on it, we need to prepare a lot for it, and then we will get a lot of benefits from it if we have a good level of training. I think and I hope that Beth feels supported that way by the club."

Eidevall has acknowledged the mental toll of this summer's World Cup after a demanding domestic season, which led to players such as Alessia Russo, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord being granted additional time off.  

"The mental side of playing a big tournament is massive and because our players did not get enough time to reset, we have managed time individually with the players who stayed longer in the World Cup. They have been getting complete time off from the training ground. 

"Has that been ideal from a team perspective that we haven't been able to keep the group together? No. But I still think that is absolutely vital to now being able to attack the season fully.

"We're not feeling like we're going into the season with players being too mentally fatigued. We try to manage it proactively instead, in cooperation with national team coaches, and I think that's a better way to do it."

After a pair of disappointing results to kick off the WSL season, our head coach is only focused on playing Aston Villa on Sunday.

"We have to look forward and think about the next action. If we dwell on mistakes, for me, that’s not a winning mentality. You can’t change anything from it. You can learn something from it and look forward. Everyone has to do that in the team." 

Eidevall has already seen signs of that mentality as our side equalised in the dying moments of last weekend's clash with Manchester United

"It's a brilliant individual contribution from Cloe, but the whole team gets us into that situation and for me, that’s really mentally strong. It’s so easy to just throw the ball away and say ‘Oh, I tried. I tried to play the ball forward.’ But it wasn’t the right moment and football is always about finding the right moment.

"Even if it’s just a minute left to play, you still have to have that mental strength and wait for the right moment because you can never force things in football. I really like that about the goal."

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