LISTEN: How do players cope with being dropped, delisted and drafted?


WHILE there are many highs in football, there are also many lows.

For a young player who's used to being the star in their local or school team, the high-performance world of the AFL can come as a shock, particularly if they're not being selected every game.

Sydney's clinical psychologist Suzie Rhydderch joined The Inside Game podcast to talk about helping players navigate the rollercoaster ride that is high performance sport, and how attitudes towards the mental side of the game have evolved over the years.


Speaking with host Bec Goddard, Rhydderch said the transition to professional footy was difficult for some players, and part of the recruitment process is sounding out the young players' ability to cope with not being a big fish in a small pond anymore.

Sports psychology: How the Swans' unique approach gave them an edge

20:30 Nov 5. 2021. 3:29 PM

Sydney's psychologist Suzie Rhydderch joins The Inside Game in a two-part episode to talk about navigating the rollercoaster of elite sport and everyday life

"It happens every year, and it's just a maths thing - 45 doesn't go into 22 very neatly," Rhydderch said.

"I'm doing a lot of the recruitment interviews at the moment and it's a question I regularly ask the players

"Up until that point, they've probably made most teams or been selected in the first 18 or whatever it is at school.

"So they go onto a list and they may wait three years or they may never get an opportunity in a short time at the club to get in the senior side.


"I don't think anybody really can prepare themselves for that, even if they've cognitively thought about it and think you've got the resilience to do it.

"It’s not really until you're living and breathing it and every week feeling a sense of rejection that you're not being selected, that you really work out whether you can cope with that environment and those pressures or not."

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Rhyddech said that the focus then becomes finding little wins in the day-to-day side of football.

"From my perspective, the focus then becomes about - irrespective of whether you're selected in the senior side - you've got a role to play… you've got purpose and meaning attached what you're doing in training each week," she said.

"You might have your own goals that you're working on: Skill acquisition, relationship building, or being brave enough to have conversations with coaches when they terrify you."

Listen to the full podcast in the player below to hear about the Swans' holistic approach to psychology, and how Suzie's work has become a vital part of Sydney's high-performance strategy.

This week’s episode guide…

1:58 – The Swans' unique approach to psychology

3:37 – How psychology fits into high performance sport

5:25 – How player attitudes to psychology have evolved over the years

07:00 – How Suzie's own elite sport background informs her role at the Swans

10:37 – How do players cope with not being selected every week?

13:39 – How players can find their motivation

14:04 – Working with coaches on player management

15:58 – Why a bit of stress and anxiety isn't necessarily a bad thing

18:29 – Takeaway tips, fuelled by the John West Protein+ range

Suzie's secret weapon for brain health and dealing with feelings

02:05 Nov 5. 2021. 3:36 PM

Sydney psychologist Suzie Rhydderch joins The Inside Game and gives her top tips for keeping a healthy mindset

'The Inside Game' is a new podcast series that takes a peek behind the scenes of the high-performance world of the AFL and AFLW. Join AFLW Premiership Coach Bec Goddard as she chats with high-performance experts who share the one-percenters that make the difference between an average day and a great day, fuelled by the John West Protein+ range.