Celebrating a goal is an excellent time to check the mental health of a team.1 Immediately after scoring a goal, the player and the team that has scored become the centre of attention of the audience and the media. The actions that football players do in those seconds of joy allow assessing a team’s internal functioning and checking cohesion among the players.
According to Pep Mari’s proposal,2.3 there are two aspects to consider when assessing the psychological health of teams when players celebrate goals. First, we need to check if the celebration is collective, with all the players participating in the celebration together, or individually, with the players enjoying the moment separately. Secondly, it is necessary to observe if the celebration of the goal is natural, spontaneous, and different each time or, on the contrary, if it is rehearsed and planned. If the team celebrates the goals collectively, they are in excellent psychological health. If the celebration is also spontaneous and arises from the state of mind that the players have, it shows that the group is united and has high cohesion. If the football player who has scored the goal celebrates it individually and separately from his teammates, there may be an excess of selfishness. The player forgets that football is a collective discipline, where success depends on the good work of all team members. If, in addition, a previously rehearsed ritual is repeated during the celebration, then perhaps the player wants to attract attention.
In team sports, celebrating goals individually and awarding a specific athlete may not make much sense. The game is only possible if you have your teammates. You can achieve high levels of interaction with them and the commitment of necessary collective participation, which must transform the personal meaning of winning. The collaborative culture of the game then arises, where interpersonal relationships are formed, identifying different codes of communication and emotional ties with the team members.4.5 In big teams, the players, apart from sharing the same goals and values, have to propose the same level of commitment in what they do. All must be willing to work themselves down to the bone for their colleagues.3 The coach must create practice conditions in training that allow the feelings that arise from having participated, shared, and resolved (or not) the game situations, to strengthen affective bonds among those who have experienced them next to me. Thus, we need to stress the need to have those bonds at every moment of the game.4.5 As a recommendation, with children and young people, coaches should teach them why goals should not be celebrated individually.
Recent research6 has also shown that the player’s origin and culture have a lot to do with the way they celebrate goals. The authors found that African and South American players celebrate goals with religious gestures more than European footballers. Interestingly, it has been detected that football players adapt to the country’s culture and the team in which they play. When they play in Europe, African players change their behaviour and celebrate goals with less religious fervour because religion there is less critical.7 However, when they return to their country of origin, they regain their religious sense when celebrating a goal. Coaches should understand the influence of the player’s culture and develop a team spirit common to them.
1 Bornstein, G. and Goldschmidt, C. (2008). Post-scoring behavior and team success in football. In Myths and facts about football: The economics and psychology of the world’s greatest sport. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing; pp.113–123.
Marí, P. (2020) La forma de celebrar los goles (The way to celebrate goals). In https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiEi1vYriQI
Marí, P. (2019). Equipos campeones. Champion teams. Barcelona: Editorial Platform.
4 Seirul-lo, F. (2010). Estructura socioafectiva. (Socioaffective structure). Document INEFC – Barcelona. http://www.motricidadhumana.com/estructura_socioafectiva_doc_seirul_lo_Outline_drn.
5 Lago Peñas, C. y Seirul.lo, F. (2021). La dirección del entrenamiento y el partido en el Fútbol y los Deportes de Equipo (The direction of training and the match in Football and Team Sports). Next Post.
6 Lev, A., Galily, Y., Eldadi, O. y Tenenbaum, G. (2020). Deconstructing celebratory acts following goal scoring among elite professional football players. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238702.
7 Acheampong, E.Y. (2019). How does professional football status challenge African players’ behaviour? Soccer & Society, 22(12): 2024-2044.
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