How a good book takes the pressure off for Simpkins

Professional football at the highest level inevitably brings pressure, but Emily Simpkins has found the perfect release from the game.

By James Hilsum • 15 February 2020

By Kyle Hemsley
Emily Simpkins

The 29-year-old takes a keen interest in reading, predominantly spiritual books, which has not only helped her switch off but to also consume much of her free time.

“It all started when I signed my first full-time professional contract at Doncaster, before then my hobby was to go to the gym,” she explained.

“As soon as I became full-time, I needed a hobby that was going to chill me out and help me switch off to fill all this time. That’s when I discovered books. I’m not really someone that reads fiction, as I like to learn something from what I’m reading and I’ve always been interested in the mental side of things.

“I’m open minded in terms of anything that’s going to develop me personally, which can include anything from meditation or other spiritual matters.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Emily Simpkins

One book which sparked her interest in spiritual matters, and mental wellbeing, is The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. “The book is about being in the present moment and as soon as I read that and acted on it, everything seemed to click,” she adds.

“I just found an interest from there really. It was that first book that sparked everything for me. There are thousands of books out there, but it was a case of finding ones that could develop me and allow me to grow in all areas.

“It’s perfect because when I’m on the pitch, I’m trying to develop as a player. Then when I’m off the pitch, I want to develop as a person.

“A lot of the books I read are on having the right mindset, which you can apply to football. It’s a case of having a balance in your life, and I feel like I’m living everything I’m doing. “I’m appreciating my dream of playing football because I’m living in the present moment.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Emily Simpkins

Aside from reading, Simpkins also takes a keen interest in meditation and yoga, with both having a positive influence on her game.

“It’s another way for me to switch off and it’s a good practice for me to get into,” she points out. “Brighton do guided meditation for the players, once a month as a team, and anyone who wants to join in can come along.

“Personally, I’ll do ten minutes in the morning to start my day and depending on how I’m feeling on certain days, I can do ten minutes at lunch too.

“It’s something that you can do anywhere. I will go to guided classes as well, and I feel like they help me a lot.” 

By Paul Hazlewood
Emily Simpkins in action on the training pitch.

With the mental and physical demands of being a professional footballer, Simpkins spoke about the incredible support which the club provides for players both on and off the pitch and believes it’s unparalleled in terms of anything she’s previously received.

“We’re training every day, so physically it puts a strain on you, even more so mentally. You’re dealing with things like not playing and losing.

“That mental side of things is a stress, so activities like meditation, yoga and reading massively helped me. “Being able to talk to your teammates as well is great. We’re such an open group that everyone is vulnerable and we’ll all talk about everything to each other. I’ve never been in a team like it, and everybody is comfortable.

“The club plays a big part in that by putting on meditation for us, and I’ve never been anywhere that’s done that for us. The support we have in terms of the full-time staff here, and Jackie’s [Pollard – player care officer], role means we can speak to anyone if we need that support.”