What Is Sport Psychology?

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

The field of sport psychology continues to grow in popularity among athletes, coaches, parents and teams, but many people still do not know much about it. In the broadest sense, sport psychology focuses on the mental skills most closely linked to on-field performance, like imagery, positive self-talk, and techniques to aid concentration and focus. But in addition to helping athletes enhance their performance, sport psychology also includes information for coaches, parents and teams so they can help athletes with life skills development for leadership off the field.

One program I am especially proud of is called Sport Success 360 (SS360),  an online educational training module based on sport psychology principles and applications. Designed to help everyone involved in sports—athletes, parents, coaches and administrators—it provides fast access to information on sports burnout, sport specialization, performance supplements, travel leagues, retirement from sports, playing time, hazing, and other psycho-social issues and concerns commonly encountered in the world of sports. If you are looking for a quick overview of the depth and breadth of sport psychology today, Sport Success 360 is a good resource.

When you think about sport psychology, keep in mind that performance enhancement is only one aspect. In addition, sport psychologists regularly help athletes with career-related issues, life skills development and even clinical mental-health disorders when they arise. You don't have to have a mental illness to benefit from sport psychology training. Sport psychologists offer several educational applications—such as the importance of effective goal setting—regardless of whether you are experiencing mental distress. Unfortunately, many athletes avoid sport psychology training because of the stigma attached to the word "psychology," which is interpreted by some to indicate mental illness. The good news is that mindset is changing.

If you are an athlete, coach, parent or sport administrator, I encourage you to check out Sport Success 360 to learn more about how sport psychology training can help you have a safe, fun and meaningful athletic experience—and even win more games!

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock