Sports Psychology or Sport Psychology (also identified as performance psychology) is the scientific study of human performance and the mental processes that influence human performance in sports and other performance domains. The origins of sports psychology are rooted in psychotherapy, education, consultation and diverse disciplines of sport science in efforts to improve athletic performance.
The focus of modern sport psychology is characterized by an increasing application of performance psychology knowledge across a variety of performance domains. The popularity of sports psychology has grown substantially over the past two decades, both as an academic discipline and an applied practice. Today, sports psychology provides two different service delivery models: Performance Enhancement and Therapy.
Performance excellence is a unique aspect of sports psychology. Sports psychology consultants, also known as performance psychology consultants, provide performance enhancement services to help performers in sport, business, and the performing arts achieve peak performance more often and with greater consistency.
Sports psychology consultants use psychological assessments and data analysis methods to identify the mental processes that influence (inhibit and enhance) an individual’s performance. Once identified, sports psychology consultants develop a customized performance enhancement program based on the individual’s needs. Performance enhancement programs incorporate mental skills training and other evidence-based performance enhancement interventions to help clients overcome the barriers that limit their performance by instilling mental toughness and the mental skills needed to achieve peak performance and succeed with greater consistency.
In the field of sports psychology, mental health therapy is practiced by licensed psychologists who specialize in psychoanalysis, therapy or counseling. Of the 54 divisions and sub-disciplines of psychology the title “psychologist” is reserved for clinical, counseling, educational and experimental psychology practitioners only. Therefore, clinical, counseling, and educational psychology psychologists who work with athletes refer to themselves as sport psychologists or sports psychologist.
Sports psychologist help performers cope with and overcome psychological disorders (mental health disorders) recognized in the DSM-IV. The most common psychological disorders addressed by sports psychologist include clinical depression, anxiety disorders, psycho-social disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse. Both sports psychology service delivery models are critical components of sports psychology and require graduate level education and advanced training in applied psychology. For more information click the highlighted texts to visit the following pages: The History of Sports Psychology, Professionalism in Sports Psychology, The Performance Psychology Movement (PPM).