Psychology: A Short History And Overview Of A Field Whose Time Has
Come, And How It Can Help You In Your Sport.
This article gives you an overview
of the field of sport psychology. This exciting field addresses
critical sport learning and performance areas such as mental readiness,
concentration, motivation, teamwork, communication, the zone and
managing a sport career. Discover ten ways sport psychology can
help you as an athlete, as a parent of an athlete, or as a coach.
A Short History And Overview Of A Field Whose
Time Has Come,
And How It Can Help You In Your Sport
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
Sport psychology has a relatively short past,
and in recent years is it becoming far more accepted and utilized
as a valuable competitive edge among athletes and coaches.
In 1897, an Indiana University psychologist, Dr. Norman Triplett,
wrote what was considered the first scientific paper on sport psychology,
on the social facilitation behavior of bicyclists.
In the early 1920's, the first sport psychology laboratory was created
in Berlin, Germany, by Dr. Carl Diem. Soon after, sport psychology
arrived in America when Dr. Coleman R. Griffith created the first
sport psychology laboratory in the U.S., in the state of Illinois.
Dr. Griffith also created and taught the first university level
courses in sport psychology at the University of Illinois, in 1923.
In addition, Dr. Griffith was the first sport psychologist ever
hired by a professional sports team, the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
For his pioneering efforts, he is considered the father of the science
of sport psychology in the United States.
We can define psychology as the study of the human mind, emotions
and behavior. Psychology is an academic and applied field. The American
Psychological Association (APA) states that sport psychology is
the "scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated
with participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other
types of physical activity." The most important certifying body
in sport psychology, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology
(AASP), states that they "promote the ethical practice, science,
and advocacy of sport and exercise psychology".
I was fortunate to be the first person in the world to earn an undergraduate
degree in sports psychology. I did this in 1978 at the State University
of New York at Buffalo. I later earned two graduate degrees in related
areas, and I have been working in the field as a sport psychology
consultant for over 30 years. I have coached thousands of elite
performers, seven national champions, and world champions. Recently
one of my clients, Miriam Nakamoto, won her fourth world kickboxing
championship, and became the first U.S. woman to hold the WBC Muay
Thai World title.
Virtually every college, national, professional and Olympic sports
team has a sports psychologist on staff, and countless individual
college, Olympic and professional athletes work closely with sports
psychology consultants. Look at a few of the big names in pro golf
who have used sports psychology consultants. It's estimated that
well over 300 of the pro game's players regularly use sports psychologists:
Davis Love III
Frank Lickliter II
Charles Howell III
David Morland IV
Do these 55 golf professionals convince you that
sport psychology is a must to get the mental edge? They play golf
for a living and want every edge possible. They are already strong
mentally, but want to continue to improve and so seek the services
of a sport psychologist. You can benefit too.
Let's take a look at the field of sport psychology and discover
how it can help you as an athlete, parent of an athlete, or as a
coach. Here are ten areas that sport psychology studies, and how
it applies this knowledge to sport learning and performance.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Understand Yourself As An Athlete.
You need to have mental strategies for learning, practice and
performance factors. Sport psychology gives you the methods and
approaches to become aware of what you need so you and your coach
can craft custom interventions.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Work Better With Your Parents.
Your parents should be part of your success team, at least at
some level. It does not necessarily mean they should coach you,
but it would be nice to have a solid relationship with them, and
excellent communication skills so they can assist you in your
- Sport Psychology Helps You Work Better With Your Coaches.
Your coach is perhaps the most important person on your team.
You need a great working relationship with this person. Sport
psychology can help you create this relationship, and nurture
- Sport Psychology Helps You Navigate Your Sport Career.
There are many blind alleys, pitfalls and false paths in a sport
career. Sport psychology helps you create a vision for success,
and goals and objectives, so you can execute that master plan.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Prepare Your Mind. It is
critical that you know how to prepare mentally and emotionally
for lessons, practices and performances. Sport psychology helps
you devise a customized mental readiness process that helps you
transition from your normal work, school or social worlds into
the special world of competition.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Concentrate So You Can Enter
The Zone. Attentional control is psychologist-speak for concentration
or focus. Sport psychology helps you create strong control over
where and how you place your attention so you can concentrate
on the proper attentional cues, and you are able to block out
unwanted, distracting cues.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Bounce Back From Set-Backs.
It is critical that you become resilient to the inevitable problems
and set-backs that competitive sport brings. You need solid mental
toughness that helps you refocus, reset and re-energize for what
is to come.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Increase Motivation And Drive.
Successful athletes who have long careers fuel them with exciting
goals, a vision for the legacy they want to leave, and dreams
of how they want to play. Sport psychology helps you craft engaging
goals that create positive energy within you, so you have huge
amounts of drive and determination to achieve your potential.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Handle Stress and Pressure.
One of the major ways sport psychology helps you is through stress
reduction in learning and performance. While some stress is inevitable
and natural, levels of stress that are excessive damage performance.
Sport psychology helps you manage stress and turn it into success.
- Sport Psychology Helps You Handle The Paradox Of Success.
An issue that every athlete faces at some time is the paradox
of success. As you become more successful, there are more pressures
and more distractions pulling at you. Sport psychology helps you
address these, stay focused, and helps you continue to sustain
your best performances.
Now that this article has provided you with the
big picture about sport psychology, you can gain more information
and perspective from these helpful links in the psychology of sport:
Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)
The International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP)
The European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC)
The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical
International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP)
Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology
If you are an athlete, coach or parent wishing to improve any
of the areas discussed in this article you need a comprehensive
overview of your mental abilities with an assessment instrument
that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. Here
is a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport
psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot This
assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses
in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your
own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake
with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment
would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture
about your mental game.
If you are a coach who desires training and certification in sport
psychology as a mental game coach, you may be interested in the
training program offered by the International Mental Game Coaching
Association. The IMGCA certifies qualified individuals at four levels
Mental Game Practitioners.
Whether you are interested in sport psychology from a coaching,
athlete or parent perspective, I suggest you investigate this fascinating
field more in depth. Sport psychology can help in so many ways,
and it makes sense to get every advantage you can get.
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Free Re-Publishing Rights For This Article
You have our advance permission to republish this article,
as long as you do not sell it. The author's name, web address (MentalGameCoach.com)
and copyright notice (Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA) must appear
in all reprinted articles. If the article appears on a website or
in an e-zine, the article must include a link to a page in the MentalGameCoach
website. We would also appreciate your including the author's bio
and full contact information in your article, although this is not
a requirement. For additional information, see our full article
re-publishing permission guidelines.