Sports Psychology Coaching

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The Psychology Of Sport

An Overview Of An Exciting, Valuable Field


Bill Cole, MS, MA
The Mental Game Coach™
Silicon Valley, California


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 this capability.

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 sport participation.

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 issues.

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)
http://appliedsportpsych.org/

The International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP)
http://www.issponline.org/

The European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC)
http://www.fepsac.com/

The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity
http://www.naspspa.org/

International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP)
http://www.theissp.com/

Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/
1885693109/atheltinsightheo



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 mental game.

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.

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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 college athletics.


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The Psychology of Sport


Bill Cole, MS, MA
Sports Psychology Coaching

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