Sport psychology: Difference between revisions

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Danish and Hale (1981) contended that many clinical psychologists were using medical models of psychology to problematize sport problems as signs of mental illness instead of drawing upon the empirical knowledge base generated by sport psychology researchers, which in many cases indicated that sport problems were not signs of mental illness. Danish and Hale proposed that a human development model be used to structure research and applied practice.<ref>Danish, S. J., & Hale, B. D. (1981). Toward an understanding of the practice of sport psychology. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 3,'' 90-99. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1981-31072-001 PsycNET].</ref> Heyman (1982) urged tolerance for multiple models (educative, motivational, developmental) of research and practice,<ref>Heyman, S. R. (1982). A reaction to Danish and Hale: A minority report. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 4,'' 7-9. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1982-26808-001 PsycNET].</ref> while Dishman (1983) countered that the field needed to develop unique sport psychology models, instead of borrowing from educational and clinical psychology.<ref>Dishman, R. K. (1983). Identity crisis in North American sport psychology: Academics in professional issues. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 5,'' 123-134. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1984-08136-001 PsycNET].</ref>
 
Danish and Hale (1981) contended that many clinical psychologists were using medical models of psychology to problematize sport problems as signs of mental illness instead of drawing upon the empirical knowledge base generated by sport psychology researchers, which in many cases indicated that sport problems were not signs of mental illness. Danish and Hale proposed that a human development model be used to structure research and applied practice.<ref>Danish, S. J., & Hale, B. D. (1981). Toward an understanding of the practice of sport psychology. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 3,'' 90-99. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1981-31072-001 PsycNET].</ref> Heyman (1982) urged tolerance for multiple models (educative, motivational, developmental) of research and practice,<ref>Heyman, S. R. (1982). A reaction to Danish and Hale: A minority report. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 4,'' 7-9. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1982-26808-001 PsycNET].</ref> while Dishman (1983) countered that the field needed to develop unique sport psychology models, instead of borrowing from educational and clinical psychology.<ref>Dishman, R. K. (1983). Identity crisis in North American sport psychology: Academics in professional issues. ''Journal of Sport Psychology, 5,'' 123-134. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1984-08136-001 PsycNET].</ref>
   
As the practice of sport psychology expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s, some practitioners expressed concern that the field lacked uniformity and needed consistency to become "a good profession."<ref>Silva, J. M. (1989). Toward the professionalization of sport psychology. ''The Sport Psychologist, 3''(3), 265-273. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1990-06396-001 PsycNET].</ref> The issues of graduate program accreditation and the uniform training of graduate students in sport psychology were considered by some to be necessary to promote the field of sport psychology, educate the public on what a sport psychologist does, and ensure an open job market for practitioners.<ref>Silva, J., Conroy, D., & Zizzi, S. (1999). Critical issues confronting the advancement of applied sport psychology. ''Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11''(2), 298-320. doi: 10.1080/10413209908404206.</ref> However, Hale and Danish (1999) argued that accreditation of graduate programs was not necessary and did not guarantee uniformity. Instead, these authors proposed a special practicum in applied sport psychology that included greater contact hours with clients and closer supervision.<ref>Hale, B., & Danish, S. (1999). Putting the Accreditation Cart Before the AAASP Horse: A Reply to Silva, Conroy and Zizzi. ''Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11''(2), 321-328. doi: 10.1080/10413209908404207.</ref>
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As the practice of sport psychology expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s, some practitioners expressed concern that the field lacked uniformity and needed consistency to become "a good profession."<ref>Silva, J. M. (1989). Toward the professionalization of sport psychology. ''The Sport Psychologist, 3''(3), 265-273. Retrieved June 25, 2011 from [http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1990-06396-001 PsycNET].</ref> The issues of graduate program accreditation and the uniform training of graduate students in sport psychology were considered by some to be necessary to promote the field of sport psychology, educate the public on what a sport psychologist does, and ensure an open job market for practitioners.<ref>Silva, J., Conroy, D., & Zizzi, S. (1999). Critical issues confronting the advancement of applied sport psychology. ''Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11''(2), 298-320. {{doi|10.1080/10413209908404206}}.</ref> However, Hale and Danish (1999) argued that accreditation of graduate programs was not necessary and did not guarantee uniformity. Instead, these authors proposed a special practicum in applied sport psychology that included greater contact hours with clients and closer supervision.<ref>Hale, B., & Danish, S. (1999). Putting the Accreditation Cart Before the AAASP Horse: A Reply to Silva, Conroy and Zizzi. ''Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11''(2), 321-328. {{doi|10.1080/10413209908404207}}.</ref>
   
 
===Present status of sport psychology===
 
===Present status of sport psychology===
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The link between exercise and psychology has long been recognized. In 1899, [[William James]] discussed the importance of exercise, writing it was needed to "furnish the background of sanity, serenity...and make us good-humored and easy of approach."<ref>James, W. (1899). ''Talks to teachers on psychology: And to students on some of life's ideals''. New York: Henry Holt and Company.</ref> Other researchers noted the connection between exercise and depression, concluding a moderate amount of exercise was more helpful than no exercise in symptom improvement.<ref>Franz, S.I. & Hamilton, G.V. (1905). The effects of exercise upon the retardation in conditions of depression. ''American Journal of Insanity, 62'', 249-256.</ref>
 
The link between exercise and psychology has long been recognized. In 1899, [[William James]] discussed the importance of exercise, writing it was needed to "furnish the background of sanity, serenity...and make us good-humored and easy of approach."<ref>James, W. (1899). ''Talks to teachers on psychology: And to students on some of life's ideals''. New York: Henry Holt and Company.</ref> Other researchers noted the connection between exercise and depression, concluding a moderate amount of exercise was more helpful than no exercise in symptom improvement.<ref>Franz, S.I. & Hamilton, G.V. (1905). The effects of exercise upon the retardation in conditions of depression. ''American Journal of Insanity, 62'', 249-256.</ref>
   
As a sub-discipline, the amount of research in exercise psychology increased in the 1950s and 1960s, leading to several presentations at the second gathering of the International Society of Sport Psychology in 1968.<ref>Kenyon, G.S. & Grogg, T.M. (Eds.). (1970). ''Contemporary psychology of sport: Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Sport Psychology''. Chicago: The Athletic Institute.</ref> Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, William Morgan wrote several pieces on the relationship between exercise and various topics, such as mood,<ref>Morgan, W.P. (1985). Affective beneficence of vigorous physical activity. ''Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 17''(1), 94-100. doi: 10.1249/00005768-198502000-00015.</ref> anxiety,<ref>Bahrke, M.S., Morgan, W.P. (1978). Anxiety reduction following exercise and meditation. ''Cognitive Therapy and Research, 2''(4), 323-333. doi: 10.1007/BF01172650.</ref> and adherence to exercise programs.<ref>Dishman, R.K., Ickes, W., & Morgan, W.P. (1980). Self-motivation and adherence to habitual physical activity. ''Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 10''(2), 115-132. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1980.tb00697.x.</ref> Morgan also went on to found APA Division 47 in 1986.<ref>American Psychological Association Division 47. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from http://www.apa47.org/aboutHistory.php</ref>
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As a sub-discipline, the amount of research in exercise psychology increased in the 1950s and 1960s, leading to several presentations at the second gathering of the International Society of Sport Psychology in 1968.<ref>Kenyon, G.S. & Grogg, T.M. (Eds.). (1970). ''Contemporary psychology of sport: Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Sport Psychology''. Chicago: The Athletic Institute.</ref> Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, William Morgan wrote several pieces on the relationship between exercise and various topics, such as mood,<ref>Morgan, W.P. (1985). Affective beneficence of vigorous physical activity. ''Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 17''(1), 94-100. {{doi|10.1249/00005768-198502000-00015}}.</ref> anxiety,<ref>Bahrke, M.S., Morgan, W.P. (1978). Anxiety reduction following exercise and meditation. ''Cognitive Therapy and Research, 2''(4), 323-333. {{doi|10.1007/BF01172650}}.</ref> and adherence to exercise programs.<ref>Dishman, R.K., Ickes, W., & Morgan, W.P. (1980). Self-motivation and adherence to habitual physical activity. ''Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 10''(2), 115-132. {{doi|10.1111/j.1559-1816.1980.tb00697.x}}.</ref> Morgan also went on to found APA Division 47 in 1986.<ref>American Psychological Association Division 47. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from http://www.apa47.org/aboutHistory.php</ref>
   
 
As an interdisciplinary subject, exercise psychology draws on several different scientific fields, ranging from psychology to physiology to neuroscience. Major topics of study are the relationship between exercise and mental health (e.g., stress, affect, self-esteem), interventions that promote physical activity, exploring exercise patterns in different populations (e.g., the elderly, the obese), theories of behavior change, and problems associated with exercise (e.g., injury, eating disorders, exercise addiction).<ref>Berger, B.G., Pargman, D., & Weinberg, R.S. (2007). [http://books.google.com/books?id=QXaTNQAACAAJ&dq=foundations+of+Exercise+Psychology&hl=en&ei=gXsGTse3MIPa0QGN5qDwDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA ''Foundations of Exercise Psychology'']. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.</ref><ref>Buckworth, J. & Dishman, R.K. (2002). [http://books.google.com/books?id=d_LpdqXksIEC&dq=Exercise+Psychology&source=gbs_navlinks_s ''Exercise psychology'']. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.</ref>
 
As an interdisciplinary subject, exercise psychology draws on several different scientific fields, ranging from psychology to physiology to neuroscience. Major topics of study are the relationship between exercise and mental health (e.g., stress, affect, self-esteem), interventions that promote physical activity, exploring exercise patterns in different populations (e.g., the elderly, the obese), theories of behavior change, and problems associated with exercise (e.g., injury, eating disorders, exercise addiction).<ref>Berger, B.G., Pargman, D., & Weinberg, R.S. (2007). [http://books.google.com/books?id=QXaTNQAACAAJ&dq=foundations+of+Exercise+Psychology&hl=en&ei=gXsGTse3MIPa0QGN5qDwDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA ''Foundations of Exercise Psychology'']. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.</ref><ref>Buckworth, J. & Dishman, R.K. (2002). [http://books.google.com/books?id=d_LpdqXksIEC&dq=Exercise+Psychology&source=gbs_navlinks_s ''Exercise psychology'']. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.</ref>

Revision as of 07:45, 11 April 2012

Sport psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws on knowledge from the fields of Kinesiology and Psychology. It involves the study of how psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sport and exercise affect psychological and physical factors.[1] In addition to instruction and training of psychological skills for performance improvement, applied sport psychology may include work with athletes, coaches, and parents regarding injury, rehabilitation, communication, team building, and career transitions.

History

Early history: Isolated studies of the psychology of sport and physical activity

In its formation, sport psychology was primarily the domain of physical educators, not researchers, which can explain the lack of a consistent history.[2] Nonetheless, many instructors sought to explain the various phenomena associated with sport and physical activity and developed sport psychology laboratories.

In Europe, the early years of sport psychology were highlighted by the formation of the Deutsch Hochschule für Leibesübungen (College of Physical Education) by Robert Werner Schulte in 1920. The lab measured physical abilities and aptitude in sport, and in 1921, Schulte published Body and Mind in Sport. In Russia, sport psychology experiments began as early as 1925 at institutes of physical culture in Moscow and Leningrad, and formal sport psychology departments were formed around 1930.[3]

In North America, early years of sport psychology included isolated studies of motor behavior, social facilitation, and habit formation. During the 1890s, E. W. Scripture conducted a range of behavioral experiments, including measuring the reaction time of runners, thought time in school children, and the accuracy of an orchestra conductor's baton.[4] The work of Norman Triplett demonstrated that bicyclists were more likely to cycle faster with a pacemaker or a competitor, which has been foundational in the literature of social psychology and social facilitation.[5] Research by ornithologists Lashley and Watson on the learning curve for novice archers provided a robust template for future habit formation research, as they argued that humans would have higher levels of motivation to achieve in a task like archery compared to a mundane task.[6] Researchers Albert Johanson and Joseph Holmes tested baseball player Babe Ruth in 1921, as reported by sportswriter Hugh S. Fullerton. Ruth's swing speed, his breathing right before hitting a baseball, his coordination and rapidity of wrist movement, and his reaction time were all measured, with the researchers concluding that Ruth's talent could be attributed in part to motor skills and reflexes that were well above those of the average person.[7]

Coleman Griffith: "America’s First Sport Psychologist"

Coleman Griffith worked as an American professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois where he first performed comprehensive research and applied sport psychology. Griffith began his work in 1925 studying the psychology of sport at the University of Illinois funded by the Research in Athletics Laboratory.[8] Until the laboratory's closing in 1932, he conducted research and practiced sport psychology in the field. Griffith also published two major works during this time: The Psychology of Coaching (1926) and The Psychology of Athletics (1928).

In 1938, Griffith returned to the sporting world to serve as a sport psychologist consultant for the Chicago Cubs. Hired by Philip Wrigley for $1,500, Griffith examined a range of factors such as: ability, personality, leadership, skill learning, and social psychological factors related to performance.[9] Griffith made rigorous analyses of players while also making suggestions for improving practice effectiveness.[10] Griffith also made several recommendations to Mr. Wrigley, including a "psychology clinic" for managers, coaches, and senior players. Wrigley offered a full-time position as a sport psychologist to Griffith but he declined the offer to focus on his son's high school education.

Coleman Griffith made numerous contributions to the field of sport psychology, but most notable was his belief that field studies (such as athlete and coach interviews) could provide a more thorough understanding of how psychological principles play out in competitive situations. Griffith devoted himself to rigorous research, and also published for both applied and academic audiences, noting that the applicability of sport psychology research was equally important with the generation of knowledge. Finally, Griffith recognized that sport psychology promoted performance enhancement and personal growth.

Renewed growth and emergence as a discipline

Given the relatively free travel of information amongst European practitioners, sport psychology flourished first in Europe, where in 1965, the First World Congress of Sport Psychology met in Rome, Italy. This meeting, attended by some 450 professionals primarily from Europe, Australia, and the Americas, gave rise to the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP). The ISSP become a prominent sport psychology organization after the Third World Congress of Sport Psychology in 1973. Additionally, the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) was founded in 1968.

In North America, support for sport psychology grew out of physical education. The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) grew from being an interest group to a full-fledged organization, whose mission included promoting the research and teaching of motor behavior and the psychology of sport and exercise. In Canada, the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS) was founded in 1977 to promote the study and exchange of ideas in the fields of motor behavior and sport psychology.

In 1979, Rainer Martens at the University of Illinois published an article ("About Smocks and Jocks") in which he contended that it was difficult to apply laboratory research to sporting situations. For instance, how can the pressure of shooting a foul shot in front of 12,000 screaming fans be duplicated in the lab? Martens contended: "I have grave doubts that isolated psychological studies which manipulate a few variables, attempting to uncover the effects of X on Y, can be cumulative to form a coherent picture of human behavior. I sense that the elegant control achieved in laboratory research is such that all meaning is drained from the experimental situation. The external validity of laboratory studies is at best limited to predicting behavior in other laboratories."[11] Martens urged researchers to get out of the laboratory and onto the field to meet athletes and coaches on their own turf. Martens' article spurred an increased interest in qualitative research methods in sport psychology, such as the seminal article "Mental Links to Excellence."[12]

In 1985, several applied sport psychology practitioners, headed by John Silva, believed an organization was needed to focus on professional issues in sport psychology, and therefore formed the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP). This was done in response to NASPSPA voting not to address applied issues and to keep their focus on research.[13] In 2007, AAASP dropped "Advancement" from its name to become the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), as it is currently known.

Following its stated goal of promoting the science and practice of applied sport psychology, AAASP quickly worked to develop uniform standards of practice, highlighted by the development of an ethical code for its members in the 1990s. The development of the AAASP Certified Consultant (CC-AAASP) program helped bring standardization to the training required to practice applied sport psychology. AASP aims to to provide leadership for the development of theory, research and applied practice in sport, exercise, and health psychology. [14] Also during this same time period, over 500 members of the American Psychological Association (APA) signed a petition to create Division 47 in 1986, which is focused on Exercise and Sport Psychology.

Debate over the professionalization of sport psychology

As Martens argued for applied methods in sport psychology research, the increasing emergence of practitioners of sport psychology (including sport psychology consultants who taught sport psychology skills and principles to athletes and coaches, and clinical and counseling psychologists who provided counseling and therapy to athletes) brought into focus two key questions and a debate which continues to the present day: under what category does the discipline of sport psychology fall?, and who governs the accepted practices for sport psychology? Is sport psychology a branch of kinesiology or sport and exercise science (like exercise physiology and athletic training)? Is it a branch of psychology or counseling? Or is it an independent discipline?

Danish and Hale (1981) contended that many clinical psychologists were using medical models of psychology to problematize sport problems as signs of mental illness instead of drawing upon the empirical knowledge base generated by sport psychology researchers, which in many cases indicated that sport problems were not signs of mental illness. Danish and Hale proposed that a human development model be used to structure research and applied practice.[15] Heyman (1982) urged tolerance for multiple models (educative, motivational, developmental) of research and practice,[16] while Dishman (1983) countered that the field needed to develop unique sport psychology models, instead of borrowing from educational and clinical psychology.[17]

As the practice of sport psychology expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s, some practitioners expressed concern that the field lacked uniformity and needed consistency to become "a good profession."[18] The issues of graduate program accreditation and the uniform training of graduate students in sport psychology were considered by some to be necessary to promote the field of sport psychology, educate the public on what a sport psychologist does, and ensure an open job market for practitioners.[19] However, Hale and Danish (1999) argued that accreditation of graduate programs was not necessary and did not guarantee uniformity. Instead, these authors proposed a special practicum in applied sport psychology that included greater contact hours with clients and closer supervision.[20]

Present status of sport psychology

It would be misleading to conflate the status of AASP and the status of the profession of sport psychology. However, considering that AASP has the largest membership of any professional organization devoted entirely to sport psychology, it is worthwhile to mention the contentious nature of the organization's future.

There appears to be a rift between members of AASP who would like the organization to function as a trade group that promotes the CC-AASP certificate and pushes for job development, and members of AASP who would prefer the organization to remain as a professional society and a forum to exchange research and practice ideas. Many AASP members believe that the organization can meet both needs effectively. These problems were illustrated in AASP founding president John Silva's address at the 2010 conference.[21] Silva highlighted five points necessary for AASP and the greater field of applied sport psychology to address in the near future:

  1. Orderly development and advancement of the practice of sport psychology
  2. Embrace and enhance interdisciplinary nature of sport psychology
  3. Advance development of graduate education and training in sport psychology
  4. Advance job opportunities for practice in collegiate, Olympic, and pro sports
  5. Be member-driven and service its membership

Silva then suggested that AASP advance the legal standing of the term "sport psychology consultant" and adopt one educative model for the collegiate and post-graduate training of sport psychology consultants. While the AASP Certified Consultant (CC-AASP) certification provides a legitimate pathway to post-graduate training, it does not legally bar an individual without the CC-AASP credentials from practicing sport psychology. Silva contended that future sport psychology professionals should have degrees in both psychology and the sport sciences and that their training ultimately conclude in the obtainment of a legal title. It was argued this should increase the likelihood of clients receiving competent service as practitioners will have received training in both the "sport" and "psychology" pieces of sport psychology. Silva concluded that AASP and APA work together to create legal protection for the term "sport psychology consultant." Results of the AASP strategic planning committee report will be published in late 2011 and will continue the discussion and debate over the future of the field.

Applied sport psychology

Applied sport and exercise psychology consists of instructing athletes, coaches, teams, exercisers, parents, fitness professionals, groups, and other performers on the psychological aspects of their sport or activity. The goal of applied practice is to optimize performance and enjoyment through the use of psychological skills.

It is pertinent to mention that the practice of applied sport psychology is not legally restricted to individuals who possess one type of certification or licensure. The subject of "what exactly constitutes applied sport psychology and who can practice it?" has been debated amongst sport psychology professionals, and as of 2011, still lacks formal legal resolution in the United States. For instance, some question the ability of professionals who possess only sport science or kinesiology training to practice "psychology" with clients, while others counter that clinical and counseling psychologists without training in sport science do not have the professional competency to work with athletes.[22] However, this debate should not overshadow the reality that many professionals express the desire to work together to promote best practices amongst all practitioners, regardless of training or academic background.

Generally, there are two different types of sport psychologists: educational and clinical.

Educational sport psychologists

Educational sport psychologists emphasize the use of psychological skills training (e.g., goal setting, imagery, energy management, self-talk) when working with clients by educating and instructing them on how to use these skills effectively during performance situations. Typically, educational sport psychologists have a kinesiology or sport science training (and thus are not licensed psychologists) and become certified through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) in North America or through similar organizations in their respective countries. Currently, there are over 100 colleges and universities worldwide that offer a doctoral or master's degree program in exercise and sport psychology.[23]

Clinical and counseling sport psychologists

Clinical and counseling psychologists view sport psychology as an application of psychological theories to a unique population and are able to treat severe psychological problems, such as depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders.[24] Clinical and counseling sport psychologists are licensed by law, and thus are legally allowed to use the term "psychologist" in their title. While clinical and counseling psychologists are trained in psychology programs, many who work within sport and exercise settings seek additional education, including AASP certification.

Association for Applied Sport Psychology certification

Professionals who receive certification through AASP have the title of certified consultant, or CC-AASP. Practitioners who have attained CC-AASP status are competent in the practice of sport psychology regardless of the type of degree or program training they possess. Certified consultants have a master's or doctoral degree in an area related to sport and exercise psychology, completed coursework on the subject, and participated in over 300 hours of supervised applied experiences.[25] However, the CC-AASP status has not attained the level of legal licensure in the United States.

Finding an applied sport and exercise psychology professional

Professionals within applied sport and exercise psychology are either certified by a sport psychology organization or are a licensed psychologist. People without these credentials who claim to offer sport and exercise psychology services may not have received proper training or supervision in the field, and thus may not be able to provide quality service. Anyone seeking consultations should always ask about the professional's credentials, education, consulting experience, clientele, and current membership in professional organizations.

Resources exist to determine if someone offering these services is qualified. The AASP website allows people to search for certified consultants,[26] while the website for the American Psychological Association (APA) allows anyone to search for licensed psychologists.[27] Additionally, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) maintains a list of professionals who are approved to work with Olympic athletes and national teams.[28]

Common areas of study

Listed below are broad areas of research in the field. This is not a complete list of all topics, but rather, an overview of the types of issues and concepts sport psychologists study.

Personality

One common area of study within sport psychology is the relationship between personality and performance. This research focuses on specific personality characteristics and how they are related to performance or other psychological variables.

Mental toughness is a psychological edge that helps one perform at a high level consistently. Mentally tough athletes exhibit four characteristics: a strong self-belief (confidence) in their ability to perform well, an internal motivation to be successful, the ability to focus one’s thoughts and feelings without distraction, and composure under pressure.[29] Self-efficacy is a belief that one can successfully perform a specific task.[30] In sport, self-efficacy has been conceptualized as sport-confidence.[31] However, efficacy beliefs are specific to a certain task (e.g., I believe I can successfully make both free throws), whereas confidence is a more general feeling (e.g., I believe I will have a good game today). Arousal refers to one's physiological and cognitive activation. While many researchers have explored the relationship between arousal and performance, one unifying theory has not yet been developed. However, research does suggest perception of arousal (i.e., as either good or bad) is related to performance.[32] Motivation can be defined broadly as the will to perform a given task. People who play or perform for internal reasons, such as enjoyment and satisfaction, are said to be intrinsically motivated, while people who play for external reasons, such as money or attention from others, are extrinsically motivated.[33]

Youth sport

Youth sport refers to organized sports programs for children less than 18 years old. Researchers in this area focus on the benefits or drawbacks of youth sport participation and how parents impact their children’s experiences of sporting activities.

Life skills refer to the mental, emotional, behavioral, and social skills and resources developed through sport participation.[34] Research in this area focuses on how life skills are developed and transferred from sports to other areas in life (e.g., from tennis to school) and on program development and implementation.[35] Burnout in sport is typically characterized as having three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment.[36] Athletes who experience burnout may have different contributing factors, but the more frequent reasons include perfectionism, boredom, injuries, excessive pressure, and overtraining.[37] Burnout is studied in many different athletic populations (e.g., coaches), but it is a major problem in youth sports and contributes to withdrawal from sport. Parenting in youth sport is necessary and critical for young athletes. Research on parenting explores behaviors that contribute to or hinder children’s participation. For example, research suggests children want their parents to provide support and become involved, but not give technical advice unless they are well-versed in the sport.[38] Excessive demands from parents may also contribute to burnout.

Coaching

While sport psychologists primarily work with athletes and focus their research on improving athletic performance, coaches are another population where intervention can take place. Researchers in this area focus on the kinds of things coaches can say or do to improve their coaching technique and their athletes' performance.

Motivational climate refers to the situational and environmental factors that influence individuals' goals.[39] The two major types of motivational climates coaches can create are task-oriented and ego-oriented. While winning is the overall goal of sports competitions regardless of the motivational climate, a task-orientation emphasizes building skill, improvement, giving complete effort, and mastering the task at hand (i.e., self-referenced goals), while an ego-orientation emphasizes demonstrating superior ability, competition, and does not promote effort or individual improvement (i.e., other-referenced goals). Effective coaching practices explore the best ways coaches can lead and teach their athletes. For examples, researchers may study the most effective methods for giving feedback, rewarding and reinforcing behavior, communicating, and avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies in their athletes.[40]

Team dynamics

Sport psychologists may do consulting work or conduct research with entire teams. This research focuses on team tendencies, issues, and beliefs at the group level, not at the individual level.

Team cohesion can be defined as a group's tendency to stick together while pursuing its objectives.[41] Team cohesion has two components: social cohesion (how well teammates like one another) and task cohesion (how well teammates work together to achieve their goal). Collective efficacy is a team's shared belief that they can or cannot accomplish a given task.[42] In other words, this is the team's belief about the level of competency they have to perform a task. It is important to note that collective efficacy is an overall shared belief amongst team members and not merely the sum of individual self-efficacy beliefs. Leadership can be thought of as a behavioral process that influences team members towards achieving a common goal.[43] Leadership in sports is pertinent because there are always leaders on a team (i.e., team captains, coaches, trainers). Research on leadership studies characteristics of effective leaders and leadership development.

Commonly used techniques

Below are five of the more common techniques or skills sport psychologists teach to athletes for improving their performance.

Arousal regulation

Arousal regulation refers to entering into and maintaining an optimal level of cognitive and physiological activation in order to maximize performance. This may include relaxation if one becomes too anxious through methods such as progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, and meditation, or the use of energizing techniques (e.g., listening to music, energizing cues) if one is not alert enough.[44] The use of meditation and specifically, mindfulness, is a growing practice in the field of arousal recognition. The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) Theory is the most common form of mindfulness in sport and was formed in 2001. The aim of ACT is to maximize human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life.[45] It includes specific protocol that involve meditation and acceptance practices on a regular basis as well as before and during competition. These protocol have been tested various times using NCAA men's and women's basketball players. In a study done by Frank L. Gardner, an NCAA women's basketball player increased her personal satisfaction in her performances from 2.4 out of 10 to 9.2 out of 10 after performing the specific MAC protocol for several weeks. Also, the effect of mental barriers on her game decreased from 8 out of 8 to 2.2 out of 8 during that same time period as a result of the MAC protocol.[46] Another study of the MAC protocol performed by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore on an adolescent competitive diver showed that when the MAC protocol is tailored to a specific population, it has the potential to provide performance enhancement. In this case, the vocabulary and examples in the protocol were tailored to be more practical for a 12 year old. After performed the MAC protocol for several weeks, the diver showed between a 13 to 14 percent increase in his diving scores.[47] This finding is important because previously the majority of tests performed using the MAC protocol had been on world class athletes.

Goal setting

Goal setting is the process of systematically planning ways to achieve specific accomplishments within a certain amount of time.[48] Research suggests that goals should be specific, measurable, difficult but attainable, time-based, written down, and a combination of short-term and long-term goals.[49][50] A meta-analysis of goal setting in sport suggests that when compared to setting no goals or "do your best" goals, setting the above types of goals is an effective method for improving performance.[51] According to Dr. Eva V. Monsma, short term goals should be used to help achieve long term goals. Dr. Monsma also states that it is important to "set goals in positive terms by focusing on behaviors that should be present rather than those that should be absent." [52]

Imagery

Imagery (or motor imagery) can be defined as using multiple senses to create or recreate experiences in one's mind.[53] Additionally, the more vivid images are, the more likely they are to be interpreted by the brain as identical to the actual event, which increases the effectiveness of mental practice with imagery.[54] Good imagery, therefore, attempts to create as lifelike an image as possible through the use of multiple senses (e.g., sight, smell, kinesthetic), proper timing, perspective, and accurate portrayal of the task.[55] Both anecdotal evidence from athletes and research findings suggest imagery is an effective tool to enhance performance and psychological states relevant to performance (e.g., confidence).[56] This is a concept commonly used by coaches and athletes the day before an event.

Preperformance routines

Preperformance routines refer to the actions and behaviors athletes use to prepare for a game or performance. This includes pregame routines, warm up routines, and actions an athlete will regularly do, mentally and physically, before they execute the performance. Frequently, these will incorporate other commonly used techniques, such as imagery or self-talk. Examples would be visualizations done by skiers, dribbling by basketball players at the foul line, and preshot routines golfers or baseball players use prior to a shot or pitch.[57] These routines help to develop consistency and predictability for the player. This allows the muscles and mind to develop better motor control.

Self-talk

Self-talk refers to the thoughts and words athletes and performers say to themselves, usually in their minds. Self-talk phrases (or cues) are used to direct attention towards a particular thing in order to improve focus or are used alongside other techniques to facilitate their effectiveness.[58] For example, a softball player may think "release point" when at bat to direct her attention to the point where the pitcher releases the ball, while a golfer may say "smooth stroke" before putting to stay relaxed. Research suggests either positive or negative self-talk may improve performance, suggesting the effectiveness of self-talk phrases depends on how the phrase is interpreted by the individual.[59]

Exercise psychology

Exercise psychology can be defined as the study of psychological issues and theories related to exercise.[60] Exercise psychology is a sub-discipline within the field of psychology and is typically grouped with sport psychology. For example, Division 47 of the APA is for exercise and sport psychology, not just one or the other, while organizations like AASP encompass both exercise and sport psychology.

The link between exercise and psychology has long been recognized. In 1899, William James discussed the importance of exercise, writing it was needed to "furnish the background of sanity, serenity...and make us good-humored and easy of approach."[61] Other researchers noted the connection between exercise and depression, concluding a moderate amount of exercise was more helpful than no exercise in symptom improvement.[62]

As a sub-discipline, the amount of research in exercise psychology increased in the 1950s and 1960s, leading to several presentations at the second gathering of the International Society of Sport Psychology in 1968.[63] Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, William Morgan wrote several pieces on the relationship between exercise and various topics, such as mood,[64] anxiety,[65] and adherence to exercise programs.[66] Morgan also went on to found APA Division 47 in 1986.[67]

As an interdisciplinary subject, exercise psychology draws on several different scientific fields, ranging from psychology to physiology to neuroscience. Major topics of study are the relationship between exercise and mental health (e.g., stress, affect, self-esteem), interventions that promote physical activity, exploring exercise patterns in different populations (e.g., the elderly, the obese), theories of behavior change, and problems associated with exercise (e.g., injury, eating disorders, exercise addiction).[68][69]

See also

References

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