Psychology Lecturer - Ana Soares
BSc, MSc, PGCert - Psychology Lecturer
Psychology Lecturer at AECC University College, Ana Soares, has been working as an applied Sport Psychologist for the past 10 years with top junior and professional athletes in Portugal, Spain and the UK. She has worked at the Tennis Academy in Spain and currently works part-time at Southampton Football Club alongside teaching at the University College.
Ana is also currently completing her PhD in Sport Psychology, researching momentum and turning points in tennis. She shares her story with us:
“I studied for a BA degree in Psychology in Portugal and studied for a Masters degree in Clinical and Health Psychology. It was during my MSc degree that I first became interested in Sports Psychology.
“I had the opportunity to do an internship as a Clinical and Health Psychologist with dancers. I started to see how Clinical and Health Psychology could also work in sports: I could use my Psychology training to help people perform better.
“When my first internship came to an end, I wanted to find an internship that would allow me to apply Sports Psychology to tennis. I applied to the Leonardo Davinci Programme and won a scholarship to work at Barcelona Total Tennis, the Tennis Academy in Spain as a Sport and Clinical Psychologist.
“Lots of the Top 50 tennis players have trained at the Academy: it was an amazing opportunity. After I had been there for a couple of months, the management team invited me to continue working there and I stayed there for six years. I was working with a range of ages, from players who were 12 or 13 years old to professionals between 20 and 25 years old.”
“After a few years, I felt I needed a new challenge. I wanted to be doing more research and became interested in studying momentum in particular. I applied for a scholarship to study a PhD at Loughborough University and I studied exclusively for a year.
“I don’t consider myself a purely academic person and I like to combine working with athletes with teaching and conducting research. I decided to apply for a job that had come up at Southampton Football Club and got it. I have been working with the Club for three years now.
“I started working with Academy players and now I also work with the First Team to improve their wellbeing and their performance. I help players build their confidence and concentrate more effectively during a match.
“If the team is losing, I think about how we can address this from a psychological point of view and turn that around. There are different techniques to achieve this: it’s important to accept that there are some things in a match that are out of a player’s control. I encourage players to focus on the aspects that they can control.
"One of the techniques I use is visualisation - helping the players to imagine a situation and assisting them in dealing with it. That transfers onto the pitch and it is amazing to see. Helping someone in this way is the best feeling in the world.”
“My research is about momentum and turning points in tennis. I’m studying why the match plays out in different ways. Why is a player sometimes in control of a match and then suddenly he/she loses it? I’m studying what happens in these moments and how players perceive them.
“I’m looking to understand this phenomenon better, so that I can provide players with strategies to help them feel more in control of the match and ultimately play better.”
“I want to help people. I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives: that’s what motivates me. I want to help people to feel better and in Sports Psychology, I take this a step further. I help people to feel better and also ensure they are playing to the best of their ability.
“Learning about how the mind connects to the body and the mysteries that remain to be solved there is fascinating.
“AECC University College offers a very international environment. The cultural diversity brings a richness and makes people feel welcome. The campus is relatively small and you see familiar faces all the time. It’s a warm community to work in, it’s a cosy feeling.”
Find out more about careers available to you after completing study in our subject areas of sport, exercise and health science; and psychology: Visit future careers.