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The personality of a footballer according to his position in the field

The personality of a footballer according to his position in the field

May 6, 2021

The king of all games is without a doubt, football.

It is as human and significant a practice in our time as few sociological phenomena can be because it covers the different fields of human nature and is capable of summoning the globality of the human being in its different levels of consciousness and expression. His practice knows no borders since it is practiced in the five continents making the whole world turn around the ball.

Soccer: a social phenomenon ... and psychological

Both the success and failure of a player come from a combination of physical, psychological and technical conditional abilities . For this reason and the global relevance of this sport it is necessary to study these factors that affect the performance of the athlete, positioning the study of the personality of the player as one of the most determining factors for sporting success, being very useful because it is a territory in which the behaviors will depend more on the personality traits of the players than on their environment.


The personality of the players

The knowledge of the personality of the soccer player, according to the position he plays could help to improve the performance of the team in general, and the player could be selected for each specific position taking into account not only his physical abilities but also his traits of personality that will allow a certain player to work better in one position and not in another.

Defining concepts

But to be able to talk about personality in sport and in football in particular, It is necessary to make a general description of what this construct is that we call personality .

What is personality?

  • Personality is a hypothetical construct , inferred from the observation of behavior, not being an entity in itself that does not imply connotations of value on the person characterized.
  • The personality includes a series of elements (traits or internal dispositions), more or less stable over time, which make a person's behavior consistent on different occasions and different from the behavior that other people would show in comparable situations. These characteristics of the personality of stable and consistent nature, allow us to predict the behavior of individuals.
  • The personality also includes other elements (cognitions, motivations, affective states) that influence the determination of behavior and that can explain the lack of consistency and stability of the same in certain circumstances.
  • The behavior will be the result of the most stable elements (whether psychological or biological) as the aspects most determined by personal influences (perception of the situation, previous experiences), social or cultural. These individual and general traits arise from a complicated combination of both biological determinants and the product of learning, and ultimately comprise the idiosyncratic pattern of perceiving, feeling, thinking, coping and behaving of an individual (Millon, 1990).

Position in the field (demarcation) and personality: is there correlation?

One of the fundamental characteristics of this sport is that each player plays a tactical position within the field of play , which identifies four main categories: goalkeepers, whose function is to avoid getting goals; the front, to score goals; the defenses to defend the danger zone and the midfielders which are those who strategically handle the ball in the center of the field generating the plays aimed at the development of goals.


These four categories They are also characterized by having their specific personality styles according to a series of stable dispositions of response that are the traits and that are defined as the global tendencies that each particular player has to emit one or another kind of response that determines his behavior and his characteristic thoughts. That is, each player, depending on their personality traits, would be predisposed to respond equally or similarly to different types of stimuli.

For this reason, the concern arises not only to know the general profile of the soccer player, but also the individual differences in personality according to the position that each player plays within the field of play as this would help the coach to his best location within the field; take into account the tolerance to the frustration of their scorers, the goalkeeper's resistance to the pressure of penalties, the aggressiveness of the defenses and the emotional stability to see how they influence each other within the same team, etc.


General personality traits of a soccer player

There are individual differences where sports practice is related to a certain number of personality traits, especially in traits such as extraversion, emotional stability and responsibility, these being the features most associated with sports such as football, although not the only ones, as we will see below .

  • Extraversion, which refers to an active, optimistic, impulsive subject capable of easily establishing social contacts.
  • Emotional stability, which refers to a serene and carefree individual.
  • Responsibility, which indicates a tendency to be ordered and oriented towards achievement.

Therefore, the players at a general level are balanced, extroverted, emotionally stable, dominant, aggressive, competitive and ambitious. They are oriented to achievement and to the cohesion of teams, active and with few depressive manifestations (Pascual, 1989).

Different investigations also show that the soccer player presents these traits: Affability, Abstraction, Dominance, Animation, Attention of norms, Daring, Sensibility, Surveillance, Apprehension, Opening to change, Perfectionism and Teson. (Guillen-García, 2007).

More attributes and traits of the players

The players also have defensive and adaptive strategies in behavioral terms, which defines them as players who are characterized by a great ability to perceive situations in a favorable way and with a high capacity for attention, according to Apitzsch (1994).

The image they give to others are of highly narcissistic and self-centered people (Elman and McKelvie, 2003).

They have high scores on the factors of radicalism, intelligence and control. (O'Connor and Webb, 1976)

Footballers present themselves as self-sufficient as they tend to seek to build their own future and that this only depends on them, individualistic and supportive, as well as tense, energetic, impatient, restless and reactive. (Marrero, Martin-Albo and Núñez, 2000).

Footballers define themselves as self-realized people, with confidence and self-confidence, seeking the satisfaction of their own goals, optimistic, with good humor, socially friendly and have a humanitarian spirit. (Bara, Scipiao and Guillen, 2004).

Soccer players in general belong to the Conformism scale, which indicates that they are in agreement with the authority, respect it and abide by its rules. (García-Naveira, 2008, Aparicio and Sánchez-López, 2000).

Soccer players in general are dominant, manipulative, aggressive, competitive and ambitious in their social relations (Apitzsch, 1994, García, 2004 and García-Naveira, 2008).

These players move and act in front of individual interests as the motivation to improve a personal skill, to be recognized as the best in their position, to be a starter, among others; and group motivations such as winning a cup or championship (Díaz-Morales and García-Naveira, 2001). They are demanding with themselves and bright, and keep their self-esteem high so that the environment comforts them.

This indicates that soccer players tend to meet their own needs but taking others into account to make decisions about group goals.

Although the players being group athletes are more dependent on their own teammates, they need to turn to others to seek external stimulation , constant search for attention from other team members, have confidence in the other, self-control and social responsibility in a higher level than individual athletes Bara et al. (2004).

As we have seen, soccer players have a characteristic personality style, but also differences are established according to the location and the role that each player plays on the field (Goalkeeper, Defense, Midfielder and Forward) according to the tactical position they play within the team (Millon 2001).

Personality differences of the footballers according to the position they occupy within the field of play

1. Goalkeepers

They are characterized by their intuition and because their knowledge derives from the concrete, relying more on direct or observable experience than in the players who occupy the other positions.

They are players who trust in themselves, believe they are talented, competent and very egocentric.

The goalkeepers they are the players most capable of taking risks and are highly dissatisfied with predictable situations .

They are very creative, communicative, dominant and aggressive and are always in constant search for stimulation and attention. They are nice and bright but also demanding and prefer to meet their personal needs first to those of others.

2. Midfielders

They are characterized they are reflective, they tend to process knowledge to a greater extent by means of logic and analytical and they are able to make decisions based on their judgment and on their direct and observable experience (intuition). (García Narváez, 2010).

They are the most sympathetic of the team (concordance) and those who establish the strongest emotional ties with other players and tend to hide their negative feelings.

They are intuitive, they look for the abstract and the speculative and make decisions based on their own affective reactions and guided by their personal values.

3. Defenses

They are characterized by being the most intuitive players. They trust in themselves and are very competent and talented .

They are players who seek their stimulation in others and are motivated to first meet the needs of others and not their own.

They are located on the submission scale, which indicates that they relate in a submissive manner to others and conform to the norms held by others .

4. Forwards

They are characterized by being the most systematic players. They are predictable, organized, perfectionist and efficient , able to adapt new knowledge to existing ones, looking for sure ways and that give the results of generating productive plays and sticking to them without leaving too much of that proven pattern. (Pérez, M, Navarro, R, Navarro, R, Ruiz, J, Brito, E, Navarro, M. 2004).

They are receptive, dominant and socially aggressive, ambitious and obstinate (polarity of control) . These are the players who act more independently and less conforming to the predictable, in addition to not obeying common or traditional norms, assuming the risks (discrepancy).

Although they are socially friendly and establish good links with other players and strong loyalties, they are the least motivated to first meet the demands of others.

They are inclined towards the scale of Affectivity, which describes them as players who make decisions based on their own affective reactions and guided by their personal values.

In conclusion

For all the above, it is necessary an integrative model that takes into account stable variables over time such as personality traits or styles and other more changing variables such as goals, motivations and cognitive styles.

Bibliographic references:

  • Apitzsch, E. (1994). The personality of the elite soccer player. Journal of Sports Psychology, 6, 89-98.
  • García-Naveira, A. (2004). Individual differences in football players over time: Personality Style and motivation. Degree memory. Department of Differential Psychology. Faculty of Psychology. University of Complutense of Madrid.
  • García-Naveira, A. (2007). Study of personality in athletes from the models of Cattell, Eysenk and Costa and McCrae. Notebooks of psychology of sport, 8 (2), 43-51.
  • García-Naveira, A. (2008). The personality style in soccer players of competition and differences depending on the demarcation. Notebooks of psychology of sport, 8 (2), 19-38.
  • García-Naveira, A. (2010a). Individual differences in personality styles and performance in athletes. Memory to qualify for the doctor degree. Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatments II. Faculty of Psychology. Complutense University of Madrid.
  • Millon, T. (2001). Inventory of Millon Personality Styles. Madrid: TEA Editions.

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