Sport Psychology Overview

Sport Psychology involves the study of, and strategies related to:

  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Performance Knowledge
  • Routines
  • Anxiety Management
  • Emotional intelligence(?)


Motivation is often broken down into Process Goals and Outcome goals.

For example – an Outcome goal might be:
“I want to run 100m under 12 seconds by December 15th”

One of the process goals might be:
“Staying positive and working hard in training”

You have more control over process goals, and these are therefore very important. Process goals can be controlled, and are part of the actual process involved in achieving an Outcome Goal.

Outcome goals should be SMART-ER:

Attainable / Agreed


Confidence is an important part of Sports Psychology. Low confidence can lead to high anxiety and under-performance.
To build confidence, consider the following ways in which it can be influenced:

Experience – draw on the positive experiences of the past.
A great way to build a positive mind set in day to day life is by recalling the positives whenever possible.
For example, when you get home from work – do you moan about what went wrong?
Instead, try and recall the 2 best things that happened that day.  Carry this over to sports performances, give yourself honest feedback but focus on the positives long term.

Gives a blue print for success. Watch, study, observe successful athletes.  Watching your peers is more effective that watching role models etc on TV.

watching others succeed AKA Vicarious learning.

Imagery and Visualisation
Imagine and visualisation the race or competition
Feel all the 5 senses – what can you hear? What sounds are there? etc
Visualise any problems or barriers that occur during a given competition

Positive mantras to boost confidence and motivation
Calming mantras to calm you down if you are too nervous.


Anxiety Management

The following techniques and interventions have been proven to effectively manage anxiety:

Breathing – deep, slow breathing
Music – calming if required
PNF stretching

Above all have a well-practised routine to control anxiety

Positive feedback from significant others and coaches


Emotional Intelligence

A little bit of an ‘alternative’ idea outside of mainstream Sports Psychology.

However, if you can recognise when you feel threatened, when you are going into “fight, flight or freeze” mode, and have a set strategy for dealing with this, then you are more likely to be successful.
Being able to acknowledge your emotional state can allow you to put a coping-strategy in place if required.



Posture has a huge impact on confidence and energy levels.
Maintain an ‘open’ and powerful posture whenever possible