Sport psychology (or sports psychology) is the study of the psychological and mental factors that affect and are affected by participation and performance in sport, exercise, and physical activity. It is also a specialization within the brain psychology and kinesiology that seeks to understand psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity, and exercise and apply these to enhance individual and team performance. It deals with increasing performance by managing emotions and minimizing the psychological effects of injury and poor performance. Some of the most important skills taught are goal setting, relaxation, visualization, self-talk, awareness and control, concentration, confidence, using rituals, attribution training, and periodization.
Depending on practical application of skills and various licensing organizations, sports psychology may be considered a specialty under either applied or clinical psychology. Applied sports psychologists typically advise teams, coaches, trainers and managers in methods of stress-management, relaxation and visualization designed to optimize performance in the game. Clinical application of these skills tends to involve counseling athletes in personal crisis; addressing performance issues, anxiety or mental or physical injury rehabilitation; and more.
My misgivings about executive coaching are not a clarion call for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, in particular, does not—and never will—suit everybody. Nor is it up to corporate leaders to ensure that all employees deal with their personal demons. My goal, as someone with a doctorate in psychology who also serves as an executive coach, is to heighten awareness of the difference between a “problem executive” who can be trained to function effectively and an “executive with a problem” who can best be helped by psychotherapy.
Sports lovers will likely find the field of sports psychology interesting, but choosing it as a career involves practical considerations—in other words, what’s the job outlook, and what’s the bottom line? As with most jobs, financial compensation largely depends on experience and education level, but as a growing field, sports psychologists have a generally good outlook.
The history of sport psychology began back in the late 19th century, with Norman Triplett. Triplett was a psychology professor at Indiana University during this time, and he conducted research on cyclists. The results of his research showed that the cyclists in his experiments typically performed better when they were riding with others in a group, compared to when they were riding alone. In 1920, the first sport psychology laboratory was founded by Carl Diem in Germany. Coleman Griffith, who worked with athletes from the Chicago Cubs, soon followed suit and founded the first sport psychology laboratory in the United States. It wasn't until 1987, though, that the American Psychological Association created the sport psychology division, Division 47.
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As chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) advances, about 35% of patients experience severe weight loss called pulmonary cachexia, including diminished muscle mass. Around 25% experience moderate to severe weight loss, and most others have some weight loss. Greater weight loss is associated with poorer prognosis. Theories about contributing factors include appetite loss related to reduced activity, additional energy required for breathing, and the difficulty of eating with dyspnea (labored breathing).
I work with athletes and performers at every level, from novice and recreational to elite and professional, so the situations that I address are constantly evolving, bringing different challenges each day. I may give training to an entire team, meet with an individual client at my office, or observe a client at practice or at a competition. I may speak with their coaches or families; it just depends on what we are trying to accomplish. We work on developing the mental side of their game and performance. This involves building skills in areas such as focus, concentration, motivation, goal-setting, managing intensity, overcoming performance obstacles, stress management, and learning how to perform optimally even under pressure. We also address issues such as performance anxiety, burnout, lack of confidence, recovering from an injury, and handling performance pressures that come when new levels of achievement are attained.
There appears to be a rift between members of AASP who would like the organization to function as a trade group that promotes the CC-AASP certificate and pushes for job development, and members of AASP who would prefer the organization to remain as a professional society and a forum to exchange research and practice ideas. Many AASP members believe that the organization can meet both needs effectively. These problems were illustrated in AASP founding president John Silva's address at the 2010 conference. Silva highlighted five points necessary for AASP and the greater field of applied sport psychology to address in the near future:
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There are a few other important points to make about getting a graduate degree in sports psychology or a related Psychology area. First, every graduate program has unique requirements. Before you jump into applying to a program make sure you have done your homework and thoroughly checked out the program. Second, if you plan on getting a doctoral degree it is likely the case that you will be required to complete a one-year internship where you will get additional training in an applied setting. For more info about a graduate degree in sports psychology go to careersinpsych.com. Third, it is always to your benefit to stick with graduate programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association. For example, certain jobs require that you were trained at an accredited school. Fourth, it is to your benefit to be certified as a sports psychologist by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Fifth, if you complete a counseling or clinical program you will almost surely apply for licensure. You will need to meet your state’s educational and training requirements and passed a comprehensive exam. Being licensed is very important, not only to be able to work with clients and be employed in various position, but also because only when you are licensed can you legally call yourself a “psychologist”.
Needless to say, effective leadership must also include necessary skills, vision and perspectives. For example, sustainable practices for long-term success, as business executive and sustainability thought-leader John Friedman regularly writes about, here. Another is the movement towards joining business success with addressing social needs, as Richard Branson has described, where “taking care of people and the planet are at the very core of all businesses everywhere in the world.” Adding that our current world of transparency and social media demands that “business reinvents itself and becomes a force for good in the world,” he’s leading a new effort in that direction, called The B Team.
Sports psychology is a relatively young discipline within psychology. In 1920, Carl Diem founded the world’s first sports psychology laboratory at the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Berlin, Germany. In 1925, two more sports psychology labs were established – one by A.Z. Puni at the Institute of Physical Culture in Leningrad and the other by Coleman Griffith at the University of Illinois.