Five a Day for Mental Health: Sheffield United are told the secret to success behind closed doors

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Article Credits: James Shield - The Star

For years, the contents have been a closely guarded secret, revealed only to a trusted coterie of fellow professionals and friends.

But as Sheffield United prepare to confront the challenge of playing games behind closed doors, Steve Sylvester, one of the country’s leading sports psychologists, has spoken publicly for the first time about “The Five a Day”; a set of key questions he poses to clients seeking to improve their performance mindset.

“They’re ‘Listen’, ‘Smile’, ‘Have Fun’, ‘Effort’ and ‘Give’, those are the different aspects,” Sylvester, who has worked with the West Indies, Middlesex CCC and Chris Wilder’s side, tells The Star. “I use them in every sporting discipline because they’re applicable to them all.”

Psychologist Steven Sylvester during a match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

TOPSHOT - Cameramen take footages while football players warm up on the ground prior to the opening game of South Korea's K-League football match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju on May 8, 2020. - The towering stands of the 42,477-capacity Jeonju World Cup Stadium stood empty on May 8 and would remain that way as football restarted in South Korea after the coronavirus behind closed doors, but with unprecedented international TV audiences: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

An associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, registered practitioner and published author, Sylvester’s skills have helped some of the world’s leading sportsmen and women achieve their career goals. He is known to have worked closely with United when, given Wilder’s desire to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of footballing excellence, he helped the 52-year-old’s players successfully overcome the mental hurdles they faced during last season’s promotion from the Championship.