Inside the mind of a striker: Part Two

Leeds United striker Billy Paynter lets FourFourTwo Performance delve into the mind of a striker

Billy Paynter, 26, is a striker for Championship outfit Leed United. He has previously played for Swindon Town, Southend, Bradford City, Port Vale and Hull City. Paynter bagged more than 50 goals for the Robins before he earned a move to Elland Road last summer. Injury has hampered the start to his career in Yorkshire, but as his former manager Danny Wilson says: “He’s a cracking boy. He wants to play every week and when he’s on top of his game, he gets goals.”

What triggers a scoring spree?
Confidence. When I'm feeling confident I feel like I can score every time I go on to the pitch. When you score, confidence grows, and you’re more likely to try stuff that comes off. But when I’m not playing well, I don’t let my confidence drop. You can play well and not score, but I feel if I keep getting in the right places, my luck will change. And usually it does.

More after the break

Is your manager important when you’re not scoring?Yeah. When I was at Swindon Town Danny [Wilson] told me to be more selfish and to play further up the park. He felt I needed a rest at the start of last season, and it gave me my hunger back. I’m a player who needs a kick up the arse, rather than an arm around the shoulder. He did that.

Did you decide to become a striker?
As a young kid I wanted glory, so I became a striker! But I played in a number of positions growing up – centre-half, attacking midfielder. For me, you’ve got to be strong, physical and put your head where it hurts at times to succeed.

Do you think about the upcoming games much? Got any crazy matchday rituals?
I only think about the game from Thursdays when the manager is going over tactics. On the day of the game, I think about trying to be a pain in the arse for the centre-halves. I don’t have crazy rituals, though I do put my left sock and boot on before my right, and recently I’ve been splashing my face with cold water before the game. But the crowd gets me going anyway.

Are strike partners vital?
Yes. The season before last I had a good partnership with Simon Cox. When he went I played alongside, Charlie Austin and we did really well together.

How do you feel if you’ve had a shocker, or missed an amazing chance, but the team wins?
I’m a team player, so as long as the team wins, I’m happy. But strikers do want to score! If I have a terrible game, I dismiss it as a one-off – I’ll do better next time. If I miss a good chance, I think ‘forget it’ and get ready for the next one. And if I have a great game, I’ll think that the team played well to set me up.

Do refs affect you?
If decisions are going against you, it does your head in. I have a laugh with most refs, but there are some you can’t even talk to, they tend to get under your skin.

Do you watch your performances on TV and obsess over stats?
I’m not fussed about stats. I watch The Football League Show, but if something needs to be worked on, I do it in training. I’m working on a new penalty, but I can’t tell you about it in case any keepers are reading!

Brad Busch, Mental skills coach from InnerDrive
“Billy seems well focused and mentally tough. He doesn’t let a mistake affect the rest of the game. As Jonny Wilkinson once said: ‘It’s not the wins, but the way you react to setbacks that shape an individual’.

For optimum performance, the body must release two hormones – adrenaline and dopamine. Billy says the roar of the crowd gets him going. This is adrenaline. To release more dopamine, he can spend five minutes picturing his upcoming performance.

We’d encourage Billy to focus more on preparation and analysis between games. Eric Cantona once said: ‘It is easy to battle it out on the pitch without having prepared fully and then say I gave it my all’.

Watching your games is also crucial. You can pinpoint areas to work on, be it strengths that you want to magnify or weaknesses to eliminate.”

Also see:
In the mind of a striker

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