Footballer works with Manchester United stars for degree research

David horrocks
David horrocks

A FORMER footballer from Burnley has been working with top Premier League stars on a ground-breaking research project for his degree.

David Horrocks (39), of Cliviger, teamed up with Manchester United first teamers to look at the mental skills needed to be a high-level professional footballer.

David, who had spells at Blackburn Rovers, Accrington Stanley and Blackpool, did the research as part of his degree in Sports Psychology at the University Of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which he passed with flying colours.

The former Clarets’ mental skills coach, who later moved to Bolton Wanderers, worked alongside likes of Gary Neville and Red Devils legend Denis Irwin.

He said: “I worked with Manchester United first team players to identify the cognitive characteristics of deliberate practice, so, for example, what do players do when they are away from the training ground that helps them prepare for big matches and how ultimately that affects their decision making and performance.

“Vast differences were found between truly elite players and average Premiership or football league players. It was not just natural ability and training hard that got them to and kept them at the top.

“Once that had been identified, I then used the information from the United players to set out and design an educational method to teach youth players and reserves between the ages of 16-20 from Bolton Wanderers. The number of young players coming through at true elite level in England has been diminishing over time and the psychological skills are one of the major deficiencies identified in the home grown player.”

Summaries of David’s work are about to be published in the national media and for an eventual peer reviewed academic publication. In the meantime, David is already writing for “The Psychologist” – the national magazine of the British Psychological Society.

As well as continuing to help young football players, David plans to undertake a PHd at UCLan.