He’s a member of the Magic Circle, a one-time interpreter to England manager Fabio Capello and a former pirate radio DJ – so it’s not a total shock that understanding the
mind appeals to Roberto Forzoni. He is one of the country’s leading sports psychologists, currently working with a number of GB’s London 2012 athletics hopefuls. London-born of Italian parents, Forzoni was a semi-professional footballer before taking up coaching. It was during a spell at Brentford FC that he had his epiphany. “I was working with the players on fitness and how to get them to eat better,” he says.
“I came across this thing called psychology and was struck by how small interventions can have such a big influence.”
The club had an ambitious target of 90 points for the season, and he witnessed the benefit of goal-setting. “We lost five matches over Christmas but had 47 points at halfway, so we were on target. Even though we had lost five games on the spin, there was a perception that we were still doing well.
If we hadn’t set that goal, it would have been a case of ‘We’ve lost form’ instead. “Many managers and athletes don’t like to set goals, but Herb Elliott [1960 Olympic 1500m champion] said athletes should be brave enough to define what failure is.” Forzoni had struck upon a new passion, and he launched into it, enjoying great success working closely with top football managers – Alans Pardew and Curbishley and Steve Coppell – and later branched into tennis to help two-time Grand Slam finalist Andy Murray. A role at the English Institute of Sport brought him into direct contact with athletics, and he now works with Olympic 100m finalist Jeanette Kwakye among others. He believes that athletics is a sport in which psychology can be critical. “More people play football than other sports, so they become naturally mentally tough – because if they don’t, there are 100 people waiting to take their place,” he says. “In athletics, if you are pretty good, you haven’t got as many…read the article