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Psychological conditioning is the process by which an individual’s behavior is modified, controlled or affected using a stimulus.

There are two key categories of psychological conditioning. Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning.

Both contributes positively to learning but the processes involved in their execution are different.

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: This theory is credited to Ivan Pavlov and is usually referred to as the “Pavlov theory”. In this theory, the mind of an individual is made to respond to an external stimulus through association. For example, in Ghana, those who sell Fan Yogurt usually produces a particular sound to draw the attention of customers. This sound (Piii Pooo) is thus associated to the selling of Fan Yogurt. Anyone hearing the sound knows that a Fan Yoghurt seller is around or near.

In the football environment,
It is important to have players associate with football and the team with the proper attitudes. If this is environment is created, players will arrive at training grounds early feeling happy, motivated and focus. Coaches must learn to create this environment that releases good hormones in players during training and matches. The following steps could help you start creating a classical conditioning environment for your players

  • ensure motivated greetings on arrival
  • create a playful environment
  • deal with all other issues before leaving the training grounds.

This theory is credited to B.F. Skinner. It’s focus is on how positive or negative reinforcement increases or decreases behavior.
Players turn to give more when praised than being criticized. This is however dependent on the current situation or personality of the player.
The following steps could help you improve operant conditioning as a coach

  • negative criticism should be used for controlled behaviors
    -Use public positive reinforcement
  • use negative reinforcement when dealing with behaviors that breaks team culture

In conclusion, classical conditioning is less direct way of controlling players behavior while Operant conditioning is a direct and conscious effort to control a player’s behavior.
Coaches must learn to apply appropriately.

A. S. Rufai

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