Sports psychology is concerned with the mind and how it functions in a sporting and competition situation. Specific areas of sports psychology include mental preparation, skill acquisition, individual differences between sportspeople as well as group dynamics, leadership and teamwork.
Skill acquisition is the area of sports psychology concerned with how athletes learn and retain new skills. Having a good understanding of how the mind works and people learn can help improve your own sports performance. This is especially true when learning new techniques as well as coaching and teaching others.
This section looks at memory and how information is stored when learning new skills. Without memory, information processing, and learning new skills is not possible. The memory is a complicated thing and the whole process of memorising a skill or event is not yet known.
A motor program is a series of subroutines organized into the correct sequence to perform a movement. It is stored in the long term memory and retrieved when we need to perform the skill. Areas of study cover Adam’s loop theory and Schmidt’s Schema theory.
The styles of teaching that an instructor, coach or teacher adopts depend upon a number of factors. These include personality and ability, the activity and skill being taught, the learner’s ability, motivation, age, and the learning environment. Areas of study include Mosston and Ashworth spectrum of styles, and types of guidance (visual, verbal and manual).
Information processing theory models explain how the brain processes information when learning and performing sports skills. Areas of study include Whiting’s model of information processing, Hicks Law as well as factors affecting reaction time, single channel hypothesis and Psychological refractory period.
Individual aspects of performance relates to things personal to each athlete such as motivation, personality, behaviour, and attitudes. For example, some people can ‘psych’ themselves up easily, some are more laid back. Some athletes perform well under pressure but others prefer to take a more relaxed approach and not put themselves under additional pressure.
Here we explain how attidudes and behaviours affect sports performance. In particular, the difference between aggression and assertion, how attitudes are formed and changed.
This section looks at how personality and individual differences in sports performers effects performance. Areas of study include defining and measuring personality, trait theories, Eysenck’s theory, Somatotyping and Bandura’s Social Learning Theory.
Motivation is thought to be a combination of the drive within us to achieve our aims and the outside factors which affect it. Areas of study include the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, Hull’s Drive Theory of motivation, and the ‘Inverted U’ Law.
The aim of this section is to understand how an individuals personality affects their motivation and includes need to achieve vs fear of failure, self-confidence, and experience. Some people are more naturally driven to achieve set goals than others. These people like to push and challenge themselves.
Mental preparation relates to how the athlete gets in the right frame of mind for optimum performance and includes management of stress, mental rehearsal, and visualisation.
This section looks at how stress and anxiety affect sports performance. Areas of study also include how stress is measured and the difference between state and trait anxiety.
The aim of stress management is to learn methods which can be used to help athletes to control stress and anxiety. Areas of study include physical relaxation, goal setting and imagary.
Group dynamics and teamwork looks at how teams work together and the influence of others as well as leadership.
This section explains how social infuences such as the effect of spectators watching influences sports performance.
This section examines the characteristics of strong leaders and types of leadership style. Areas of study include leadeship qualities, social learning theory and leadership styles.