The American Psychological Association (APA) states
that sport psychology is the "scientific study of the psychological
factors that are associated with participation and performance in
sport, exercise, and other types of physical activity." The most
important certifying body in sport psychology, the Association for
Applied Sport Psychology, (AASP), states that they "promote the
ethical practice, science, and advocacy of sport and exercise psychology.
AASP is an international, multidisciplinary, professional organization
that offers certification to qualified professionals who practice
sport, exercise, and health psychology."
Let's take a look at the field of sport psychology and discover
how it can help you as an athlete, parent of an athlete or as a
coach. Here are nine areas the psychology of sport examines and
practices in helping people.
1. The Psychology Of Sport Focuses On Enhancing Performance.
If you are seeking a psychology of sport consultant, this is the
number one area in which you will be focusing.
2. The Psychology Of Sport Focuses On Enhancing Learning.
Unfortunately, most sport psychologists do not focus on learning
and practice factors, and that is a mistake. Training is a vital
area that needs to be addressed. Make sure the person you hire has
3. The Psychology Of Sport Improves The Psychological Well-Being
Of Athletes, Parents, Coaches And Officials. In the broadest
sense, a sport psychologist wants clients who are happy, healthy
and productive citizens, beyond their sport experience. Certainly
this is a goal within the sport context.
4. The Psychology Of Sport Addresses The Social Factors Around
Sports. The psychology of sport asks the questions, How should
society view sports? How important should sport be in a person's
life? How can sport be maladaptive? How can we use sport to enhance
the quality of life?
5. The Psychology Of Sport Addresses Developmental Factors For
Children In Sports. It is critical that the sport experience
be a positive, safe and affirming one for young athletes. To that
end, the psychology of sport focuses on the training and coaching
of young people, the ethical and mental health issues that arise
in sport participation, and the overall life span events that affect
6. The Psychology Of Sport Addresses Injury Rehabilitation And
Pain Control. There are numerous mental approaches to handling
pain and injury issues in sport. The psychology of sport looks at
this from the perspective of athletes, coaches, trainers and others.
7. The Psychology Of Sport Improves Coaching Effectiveness.
It is critical that coaches coach effectively, with attention to
the proper mental and developmental issues that impact sport learning
and performance. The psychology of sport carefully addresses these
8. The Psychology Of Sport Helps Reduce Anxiety And Stress.
One of the major ways sport psychologists help their clients is
through stress reduction in learning and performance. While some
stress is inevitable and natural, excessive stress damages performance.
Sport psychologists are trained to help clients manage stress and
turn it into success.
9. The Psychology Of Sport Improves Attentional Control.
Attentional control is psychologist-speak for concentration or focus.
The psychology of sport addresses this area very acutely. Successful
athletes have strong control over where they place their attention.
Now that this article has provided you with the big picture of what
the psychology of sport is about, here is more information and perspective.
Here are some helpful links in the psychology of sport:
Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)
The International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP)
The European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC)
The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical
International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP)
Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology
If you are an athlete, coach or parent wishing to improve any
of the areas discussed in this article you need a comprehensive
overview of your mental abilities with an assessment instrument
that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. Here
is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot.
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and
weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating
your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program
you undertake with Bill Cole, MS,
MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an
excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your
If you are a coach who desires training and certification as a mental
game coach, you may be interested in the training program offered
by the International Mental Game Coaching Association. The IMGCA
certifies qualified individuals at four levels as Certified
Mental Game Practitioners.
Whether you are interested in the psychology of sport from a coaching,
athlete or parent perspective, I suggest you investigate this fascinating
field more in depth. The psychology of sport can help in so many
ways, and it makes sense to get the advantage when you are first
starting out in your sport.
Copyright © 2010 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance,
mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William
B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals
achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing
the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching
worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles,
and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time
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