What you can learn from Luis Suarez

Why does Luis Suarez bite people?

Recently, Luis Suarez has again publicly bitten someone for the third time during a football match watched by millions. But why does he continue this biting behavior despite knowing that it is wrong?

It is something that you could perhaps expect or understand from a child who doesn’t get their own way but it is not something you expect from a 27 year old adult.

Suarez has never been a fast or powerful footballer such as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo but he does possess incredible decision making which allows him to be in the right place at the right time. He has the ability to anticipate what happens next, which is a contributing factor to the many goals he has scored.

Many will agree that he is not a player that needs to bite players to beat them because he is good enough, but what we don’t know is what is going through his mind leading up to the time before his behavior.

What goes through his mind..

My view is that it is caused by the thoughts and emotions that he is thinking and feeling leading up to the incidences which cause him to behave in such a way. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the warning signs which cause him to lose focus and get distracted losing control of his emotions.

Emotions can often get the better of people, particularly in sports when something means a lot to a player. There are various causes to losing control and can often stem from the feelings of disappointment, frustration or pressure.

Different people deal with pressure and emotions in different ways, some can handle it pretty well whilst others will be verbally or be physically abusive with themselves, opposition, umpires, coaches, team mates, etc.

This is common behavior in many sports particularly in football. We all express our feelings in different ways but for Suarez it seems that his automatic reaction is to bite when he feels like he has lost control. It is the unconscious part of the mind which triggers the negative behavior pattern and he is unable to control his frustration or pressure despite regretting previous incidences.

He must want to change

If he wants to change his biting habit then he has to firstly accept that his behavior is wrong and then learn how to change his thinking and behavior patterns through psychological training. This will help him to understand why it happens, his current thinking patterns and then do something to change it so that his behavior changes.

Without wanting the help, he is likely to keep repeating his actions because it is ingrained in his unconscious. Once he is willing to admit that his behavior is wrong rather than trying to tell us that “he fell into the defender” and when he decides to seek help on a deeper level, then he is more likely to put a stop to his childish behavior.

Why does he bite?

There could be a number of reasons that Suarez bites rather than what most other footballers would do when they are frustrated (i.e. swear at the ref, punch, kick, spit and head butt). Perhaps there was a time in his childhood where he was bitten or perhaps bullied.

Maybe it is the mechanism he used as kid against others because that was a last ditch due his lack of strength compared to others his age.

I don’t know for sure why he did it, but I do know that if he doesn’t seek help to change his behavior patterns then this is likely to repeat itself and it may not be the end of his biting.

He has suffered bans from games before but that does not mean it will change his behavior, I think his problem lies deep inside of him and it is unlikely that he will fix it all by himself.

Fix the root of the problem

The same applies to those who act on anger, frustration and rage in other ways. If you are someone that gets frustrated easily and you allow it to affect your game, unless you change your thinking patterns (which are the root of the problem) then you are likely to keep behaving in the same way.

Luis Suarez can certainly overcome his “biting problem” but not until he admits that it is a problem and is getting him into trouble. Acknowledgement is the first step to changing a bad habit, without this no-one can help you.

Playing at the top level of any sport is tough and facing criticism is never easy and that is why the mental part of sport is so important especially as you get older and start to play at higher levels. Just because you are a good hockey player doesn’t mean that you will be successful. You have to work hard and you have to have the right mindset. 

Do you have the right mindset in hockey?

If you often feel overwhelmed with anger, fear, frustration or pressure and you feel like it sometimes affects your game negatively then chances are that you lose control of your emotions. It is truly amazing what happens when as a player you start to clear your mind of all the rubbish and negative thinking patterns that are going on, that you are probably not even aware of right now.

90% of people don’t realise that they are being held back by their negative thinking patterns, most people are not even aware of what they are thinking. Naturally it will be negative thoughts which often have a massive influence on your outcome.

I work with hockey players helping them realise the things that are holding them back from being their best and my aim is to change any negative thinking patterns into more productive outcomes.

As a trained mentor my aim is to identify signs which indicate a lack of confidence, overwhelming feelings of being under pressure, frustration, anger, fear, etc. Once I have identified the root of the problem then I work with you to help you change it.

If you recognise any of the things I have spoken about in this article in your own game, I would be keen to have a chat with you to understand what the things are that are holding you back. All you need to do if you want to take part and have a private chat with me is to:

Click here to request a call with me and complete the form and someone will be in touch with you shortly to arrange a suitable time. 


About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.