What is Sport Psychology?

Sport psychology employs the rigour of science to investigate how people perceive the world, structure their thinking, solve problems and interact with others, set against the context of sport and exercise. One prominent aim is to help athletes prepare psychologically for the demands of competition and training, and this is best achieved through working with both the athlete and their support team – in most instances, the coach. Sport psychology can also involve looking at how sport is a tool  to increase overall health and well-being.

“You don’t have to be sick to get better!” – Michael Josephson

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has released an important statement to National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and individuals who are seeking a professional to deliver psychological support. Please click here to read more.

What do Sport Psychologists do?

A sport psychologist may be involved in a variety of different tasks, which include:

  • Working with athletes to increase their overall performance by using psychological skills training (PST), such as imagery, self-talk, and visualisation.
  • Working with athletes to better cope with the pressure that comes with competition. This pressure could be coming from the athlete themselves, their coach, their parents, and/or their peers. There are a number of training methods and techniques that can be brought into the athlete’s training environment in order to better prepare for the specific pressurised environment they will face in competition.
  • Working with athletes who feel like they have a problem in their performance related to psychological factors, such as increased anxiety, reduced concentration and focus, or increased anger following unwanted or unfair decisions made by the referee. Emotional regulation training and cognitive restructuring are just two examples of techniques that can help challenge the athlete’s thinking patterns and emotional reactions.
  • Working with athletes during their recovery from an injury. Recovering from a sports-related injury can be incredibly painful and lonely for an athlete. However, during this recovery time, athletes can benefit tremendously from practising psychological techniques that will not only enhance their performance when they  return to play, but will help to maintain their emotional and psychological health and well-being during recovery. Being unable to physically train does not mean the athlete cannot psychologically train!
  • Working with retired athletes. Very often, leaving a sports career behind has tremendous negative effects on the mental health and well-being of retired athletes. Common problems included reduced social support, loneliness, identity disturbances, and relationship issues.
  • Working with non-athletes, clinical populations, and organisations who are wanting to increase their enjoyment and participation levels in sport and exercise.

 If you would like to learn more about the different sport psychology services that I provide, please click here.