Whether it is engaging or recreational sport and leisure activities or competing at an international level, the application of sports psychology is broadly concerned with helping individuals attain a psychological approach to training and performance that is beneficial, rather than detrimental to an individual’s experience. Players need to improve performance, manage emotions, and enhance confidence, in teams wanting to be pulling in the same direction.

What Is Sports Psychology:

Sports psychology is a science in which the principles of psychology are applied in a sport or exercise setting.

Sports psychology is an exciting subject dedicated to the enhancement of both athletic performance and the social-psychological aspects of human enrichment. Psychological principles are applied to enhance performance. Actually, sports psychologists are interested in much more than performance enhancement and see sport as a channel for human enrichment.

Sports psychologists do not facilitate a win-at-all-costs attitude as it is inconsistent with the goals and aspirations of sport psychology. The sport psychologists are interested in helping every sport participant reach his or her potential as a player.

Athletic performance is influenced by psychological and emotional factors that can be fine-tuned and learned.

It is the study of the effect of psychological and emotional factors on sport and exercise performance and the effect of sport and exercise involvement on psychological and emotional factors.

Aim of Sport Psychology

The basic and ultimate aim of sport psychology is to improve the performance of players. For this purpose, it adopts different steps. It provides instruction and training of psychological skills for performance improvement. It educates the coaches and parents regarding different problems such as injury, stress, rehabilitation, communication, team building, and career transition.

definition of sports psychology

1- Performance Enhancement

Sports Psychologists introduced different strategies for the enhancement of player’s performance. It applies cognitive and behavioral techniques so that players can achieve their full potential.

2-Coping with the Pressure

One of the important aims of sports psychology is to help the players at all levels deal with the pressure from coaches, parents, audience, or even their own high expectations. It guides them on how to maintain performance under such pressure.

3-Recover from Injuries

When players get an injury during the competition or practice session. They are helped to tolerate pain and in the adjustment of their injury. They are helped to decide when to keep off the field and when to rejoin.

4-Motivate Players

Increase the motivation and morale of the players is also a prominent aim of sports psychology. Psychologists motivate the players during, before, and after the games as well.

Regular sessions and reinforcements can help to boost the motivation level of players. Self-confidence and competence motivation is enhanced through repeated successful mastery attempts.

5-Counseling & Leadership

When players suffer from problems, they may see help from sports psychologists. Such problems can be of various types like anxiety, stress lack of concentration, fear of defeat, communication gap, unable to control their temper, fluctuation of mood, lack of motivation, or lack of coping strategies.

Whatever may be the problem, counseling, guidance or even psychotherapy is provided to players according to the situation.

6-Regular Exercise Program

Sports psychologists also highlight the benefits of regular exercise for the players and non-players also. It is recommended how to avoid overtraining and burnout.

7-Enjoy Sports

Sports and exercise are something that everyone can enjoy. Sports psychologists educate coaches about to help kids enjoy sport and how to permute healthy self-esteem in players and non-players.

sports psychology

Responsibilities of Sport Psychologists

There are many responsibilities of sports psychologist. Look at them one by one.

Mental training

Sports psychologists are actually mental trainers, they help the players how to prepare mentally for competition. Psychologists recommend different psychological skills for this purpose.

Improving Performance

They are not physical trainers or coaches they only utilize mental training to improve the performance of players. For this purpose different psychological strategies are being introduced.

The most common role for sports psychologists is to teach mental skills for enhanced performance, to improve confidence, focus, composure intensity, and trust inabilities.

Coping Strategies

Psychologists help players to overcome their fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and general performance anxiety. They teach the players about coping strategies e.g. stress coping. Training sessions are also arranged for such purposes.

Rehabilitation in Sport Injury

After having injury usually players become distressed, they also need psychological healing in this context. A sport psychologist can help injured players cope better with the pressure associated with returning to a prior level of performance.

Sports psychologists help the injured player to adjust his performance goals, estimating the recovery time, evaluation of self-confidence, sense of loss.

Feeling of tension anger and depression may follow the injury along with frustration and boredom. Sports psychologists apply different interventions at the time of injury to bolster self-esteem.

Healthy Routine

This is also the main role of sport psychologists to help players develop a healthy routine of game or match practice. They help the players to improve the quality or efficiency of their practice. Those who have limited practice time can get the most out of their practice time by understanding the principles of motor learning and performance.


Sports psychologists assess and evaluate players and teams for different purposes. Motivational level personality factors, coping skills attentional focus, and stress level can be assessed.

Level of frustration, aggression, or violence can also be measured.


Like other branches of psychology, the role of intervention is quite important in sport psychology. Different psychological intervention programs are executed.

Along with the players and athletes, coaches and prospective students can take help from psychologists. Psychologists are prepared to deal with emotional and personality disorders.

Build Important Qualities for successful performance

1)      Concentration

This is the mental quality t focus on the task at hand. If the athlete lacks concentration then their abilities will not be effectively applied to the task.  Common distractions are anxiety mistake fatigue whether public announcements coach manager opponent negative thoughts.

 Strategies to improve concentration are very personal. One way to maintain focus is to set process goals for each session or competition.

2)      Confidence

Confidence results from the comparison a player makes between the goal and their ability. The athlete will have self-confidence if he believes he can achieve his goal. 

when a player has self-confidence he will tend to preserve even when things are not going to plan, show enthusiasm be positive in his approach, and take his share of the responsibility in success and failure.

Good goal setting can bring feelings of success. If players can see that they are achieving their short-term goals and moving towards their long-term goals then confidence grows.

CharacteristicsHigh Self-confidenceLow self-confidence
ThoughtsPositive thoughts of successNegative, defeat or failure, doubt
FeelingsExcited, anticipation calm elation, preparedTense dread fear not wanting to take part
FocusOn self, on the taskOn other, less relevant factors
BehaviorGive maximum effort and commitmentWilling to take chances, positive reaction to setbacks, open to learning, take responsibility for outcomes.Lack of effort, likely to give up, unwilling to take risks, blame others or conditions for the outcome.

3)      Control

A player gains emotional control when he identifies and feels a particular emotion and understands the reason for his feelings. Player’s ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance. 

Two emotions that are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger.

Anxiety: in the physical form of anxiety players feel nausea, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, needing the toilet, etc, whereas worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration are mental forms of anxiety.

Anger:  When a player becomes angry, the cause of the anger often becomes the focus of attention. This then leads to a lack of concentration on the task, performance deteriorates and confidence in ability is lost which fuels the anger a slippery slope to failure.

4)      Commitment

Performance in sports depends on the player’s full commitment to numerous goals over many years. Players have to manage many aspects of daily life while competing for these goals, which include work, studies, family social life, and other hobbies.

  • A perceived lack of progress
  • Not being sufficiently involved in developing the training program.
  • Not understanding the objectives of the training progress.
  • Injury
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Anxiety about performance
  • Becoming bored
  • Coach and player not working as a team
  •  Lack of commitment by other athletes

Goal setting with players raises their feelings of value, due to joint ownership of goals, they become more committed to achieving them.

To Know the Factors of Poor Performance

In sports psychology, all such factors are studied which affect the performance of the player. 

To rule out poor performance more and more factors such as anxiety depression, anger worry and frustration are becoming the norm in professional level players.

 Sports psychologists are expected to deal with these issues so that players can perform freely and up to their true ability.

Mental Health & Treatment

Players, coach and the administration tries to lessen the psychological issues arising due to mental stress. Amateur players don’t inform the coach or sports psychologist about their distress because they fear comments from other team members or they think that they will face negative consequences. This destroys the player’s health and performance.

In the case of mental health issues, lack of resources hinders the path to a healthy recovery, and eradication of disease gets difficult. Even in their normal routine, care should be taken regarding their medicine and diet. Timely satisfaction of their physical needs is of utmost importance.

A physician or a psychologist should be immediately provided whenever they need it. A sports psychologist can provide consultation to players at the individual level as well in anxiety disorders or mood disorders. Psychologists also provide guidance and consultation to players in their private setups. The whole team or individual players can get their services.

Anxiety & players

How anxiety affects a player’s performance? The term anxiety is closely associated with the term arousal and stress. Here anxiety is treated as emotion.

Lazarus (2000)

Defines emotion as an organized psychophysiological reaction to outing relationships with the environment, often interpersonal or social.

An emotion such as anxiety occurs following appraisal and an evaluation of coping resources. A similar chain of event s occurs for the emotion of anger, which he defines as occurring in response to a demeaning offense against me or mine. Each emotion occurs as a discrete response to an environmental event following appraisal of the situation.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation procedures can effectively reduce tension and anxiety and anxiety associated with the sport. Learning how to relax the muscles of the body is a foundation skill for all stress management and intervention strategies.

  • Progressive relaxation
  • Autogenic Training
  • Mediation
  • Biofeedback

Each procedure is unique, but they all yield the same physiological result in the relaxation response. The relaxation response consists of physiological changes that are opposite to the “fight or flight” response.

Progressive Relaxation:

Modern progressive relaxation techniques are variations of those outlined by Edmond Jacobson (1929, 1938). Jacobson believed that the nervousness and tenseness of involuntary muscles and organs could be reduced if the associated skeletal muscles were relaxed. According to him, an anxious mind can’t exist in a relaxed body.

The therapy is to subject be lie on their backs with their arms to the side. Occasionally a sitting posture in a comfortable chair is recommended. 

The subject is asked to tense a muscle before relaxing it. The tensing helps the subject recognize the difference between tension and relaxation. After this, he should be able to relax a limb completely without tensing it first.

 Jacobson warns that only the first few minutes of any relaxation session should be devoted to muscle tensing. The remaining time should be devoted to gaining complete relaxation.

Autogenic Training:

Autogenic training elicits the relaxation response like a progressive relaxation procedure.  It relies upon feelings associated with the limbs and muscles of the body. 

The procedure was first developed by German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz in 1959.

Experts have suggested different exercises and self-statements bring about relaxation response using autogenic training. Essentially it is composed of 3 components.

The first and most important part is the six initial steps designed to suggest to the mind a feeling of warmth in the body and heaviness in the limbs.

The second one is autogenic training involves the use of imagery.in this step, the subject is encouraged to visualize images of relaxing scenes while focusing upon the first step as well.

The third is involved the use of specific themes to assist in bringing about the relaxation response.

One particularly specific theme is the use of self-statements to suggest to the mind that the body is indeed relaxed.


As a form of relaxation, it is tied directly to the concepts of selective attention. In practicing meditation the individual attempts to uncritically focus his attention on a single thought sound or object. Meditation results in a relaxation response when practiced in a quiet environment.

Biofeedback Training

It is a relatively modern technique that is based upon the principle that humans can voluntarily control functions of the autonomic nervous system. Biofeedback is an effective and powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety.

This training uses instruments to help individuals control their responses to the autonomic nervous system. 

 For example, a subject monitors an auditory signal of his own heart rate and experiments with different thoughts, feelings, and sensations to slow the heart rate. 

When the subject learns to recognize the feelings associated with the reduction of heart rate, the instruments are removed and the subject tries to control the heart rate without it. Which is the actual goal of biofeedback.

Drug Abuse in Sport

When players feel tremendous pressure from coaches, parents, peers, and themselves to exhibit superior performance, sometimes they turn to performance-enhancing drugs. Players who take steroids expect to be stronger, expect to perform better, expect to be aggressive and more confident.

Cognitive techniques for drug abuse:

Using this technique, the sport psychologist and the coach utilize support groups among the players to encourage drug abstinence. Psychologists show concern for players, sets limits on unacceptable behavior, develop team policy and teach athletes specific coping skills to deal with the pressure to excel. Coaches also remain aware of each player’s mental status, both in and out of the sports environment.

Behavioral techniques for drug abuse:

The vast majority of players take drugs for the enhancement of performance. Behavioral techniques focus on teaching the player alternative ways to enhance performance without drugs. These methods include teaching motor skills and strategies that lead to increased performance.

Psychological Skills Training Program

A number of psychological skill training have been proposed. Weinberg and Williams provide the basic components of such programs. It has seven phases. 

1-Determine the client

It must be determined by the sport psychologist who is the client. The nature of sport psychologists and players is determined at this stage.

2-Initial meeting with players

The initial meeting between the sport psychologist and player is very important for emphasizing the need for commitment to the PSTP. As players and coaches recognize the importance of physical training and practice for peak performance.

3-Education-related activity

When sport psychologists understand and relate them to player’s feelings in a critical game situation, then they can win the confidence of the players. Education and information  of sport psychologist make him really feel like a player physiologically and psychologically as well

4-Need assessment:

Sports psychologists determine the psychological skill strengths and weakness of each player and of a team as a whole. For this purpose need, an assessment plan is formulated. He can administer tests or just took interviews according to the situation.

5-Strategies to be taught

 On the basis of need assessment, it becomes clear to sports psychologists which areas of psychological skills the players are strong and which are weak in.  so sports psychologists develop a master plan to enhance the psychological skill through the application of various psychological methods, and techniques.

6-Actual teaching and performance

During this phase, the actual teaching of psychological methods is carried out. Performance routines are categorized as research that has validated their use in sport.  Performance routines must be practices and must exhibit temporal consistent. That means the temporal length of the routine must be consistent and execution of the routine must occur at a consistent time prior to execution of the skill.


If PSTP extends across an entire sports season or just for a single competition. It is evaluated at the end of the season or competition. The effectiveness of PSTP is determined by this evaluation effectiveness. Ongoing evaluation of the program is also helpful for the players. Open discussions with players will provide invaluable information about its effectiveness. It can be determined which skills remained beneficial for players and which were not.it is also assessed that how much a player has improved only due to PSTP.

8-Energizing strategies:

Sports psychologists guide the coaches on how to maintain optimal levels of arousal in players. There is a proper time to get players excited and arouse, but these techniques should not be applied at the wrong time. There are two types of strategies.

1.   Team energizing strategies

2.   Individual energizing strategies

1.        Team energizing strategies2.        Individual energizing strategies
Team goal settingIndividual goal setting
Pep talk and bulletin boardsSelf-talk
Publicity and news coverageIntentional focus
Fan supportimagery
Coach, player, and parent interactionSelf-activation
Pre-competition workout 

Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention Program

This program link imagery and relaxation together into one comprehensive program.

Imagery is an effective cognitive-behavioral process for enhancing the learning and performance of motor skills.

Factors that moderate the relationship between imagery use and performance enhancement include the skill level of the athlete and the cognitive component of the skill. The higher the skill level of the player and the larger the cognitive component skill. Three such programs are given below:

  1. Visual-Motor Behavior Rehearsal
  2. Stress Inoculation Training
  3. Stress Management Training

1-Visual-Motor Behavior Rehearsal

It is called vision motor behavior rehearsal and it was developed by Suinn (1972 1994).

 This program is an adaptation of Wolpe”s desensitization procedures for humans.

He used VMBR to treat people with depression, he was especially interested in applying the technique to players. His particular method of training consisted of;

Relaxing the player’s body by means of a brief version of Jacobson’s progressive relaxation techniques.

Practicing imagery related to the demands of the athlete’s sports.

Using imagery to practice a specific skill in a lifehack stressful environment.

Suinn has referred to VMBR  as anxiety management training. VMBR  combines relaxation and imagery into one procedure. It appears that its training is effective in reducing an athlete’s negative effect relative to the task of the sports.

2-Stress Inoculation Training

This program developed by Meichenbanmm incorporates relaxation training, imagery, and other cognitive processes into a single plan. The key element of SIT is the progressive exposure of the athlete to situations of greater and greater stress as a way to inoculate the athlete against the debilitating effects of stress.

3-Stress Management Training:

It is a cognitive-behavioral intervention program developed by Smith(1980) that incorporates relaxation training. Imagery and other cognitive processes. Research supports the use of SMT for tanning stress and for enhancing the performances of sportsmen.

Intervention for Burnout:

To address burnout the first and primary step is self-awareness. The player must recognize he is suffering from burnout and communicate his feeling to the parent, coach, or sports psychologist.

The second step is to take time off from the offending activity. If burnout has progressed to the point of with drawl, total rest and relaxation might be necessary for the player’s well-being.

Relaxation strategies are opted to reverse the debilitating effects of stress and burnout.

Sports Injury

Physical factors such as overtraining, equipment failure, and poor playing conditions are believed to be the major contributor to sports injury. Evidence suggests that psychological factors play an important role in the incidence, prevention, and rehabilitation of sports injuries.

The key element of the model is a stress response. The stress response evokes selected physiological and attentional changes in the player. These changes include increased muscle tension, narrowing of the visual field, and increased distractibility. Each change is believed to enhance the chances of sports injury.

The degree of mood disturbance is believed to be associated with the severity of the injury as well as with cognitive appraisal.

Coping skills of players, availability of positive social support and cognitive-behavioral interventions are all effective in injury rehabilitation programs.

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By the end of this article, you are well aware of sports psychology and its application. Sports psychologists should appoint officially or unofficially for an individual player, the whole team, or the development of the sport. In developed countries, the appointment of sport psychologists with every team is compulsory, however small the team might be. The reason is that they have understood that without sports psychologists team cannot perform up to the mark.