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Contemporary Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Missouri Western State University William Russell, PhD, Dept. of HPER. What is Sport Psychology?. 2 main objectives: To understand how psychological factors affect in individual’s performance

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contemporary issues in sport and exercise psychology

Contemporary Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Missouri Western State University

William Russell, PhD, Dept. of HPER

what is sport psychology
What is Sport Psychology?
  • 2 main objectives:
  • To understand how psychological factors affect in individual’s performance
  • To understand how participation in sport and exercise affects one’s psychological development, health, and well-being.
what sport and exercise psychologists do
What Sport and Exercise Psychologists Do:
  • Research role
  • Teaching role
  • Consulting role
  • Policy Making / advocating role
global sport psychology specialties
Global Sport Psychology Specialties:
  • Clinical Sport Psychology
    • Have training in PSYCHOLOGY to learn about diagnose and treat emotional disorders
    • Licensed by state boards to treat clinical conditions
      • Have additional training in sports & exercise sciences
  • Educational Sport Psychology:
    • Extensive training in sport sciences – have large background in psychology
    • Serves as mental coach / mental trainer – works through individual/group sessions and teaches the development of psychological skills
sport and exercise psychology orientations
Sport and Exercise Psychology Orientations:
  • Psychophysiological Orientation:
    • Best way to study behavior during sport / exercise is by examining physiological processes in the brain; brain-body connections
    • EX: using biofeedback to train biathletes to shoot between heartbeats; examining changes in serotonin as explanation for psychological benefit of exercise
sport and exercise psychology orientations6
Sport and Exercise Psychology Orientations:

2. Social Psychological Orientation

  • Assumption is behavior is determined by interchange between person and their environment
  • EX: How does leader behavior influence team cohesion; Are people with high SPA more comfortable in same-gender exercise settings?
sport and exercise psychology orientations7
Sport and Exercise Psychology Orientations:
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Orientation:
    • Emphasis is on athlete’s / exercisers thoughts and behaviors
    • EX: Is there a self-fulfilling prophecy linking self-talk and batting slumps?
main organizations involved in sport and exercise psychology
Main Organizations involved in Sport and Exercise Psychology:
  • International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP)
  • North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
  • The Sport Psychology Academy (SPA)
  • Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP)
  • American Psychological Association Div. 47 (APA, Div. 47)
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
  • The United States Olympic Committee (USOC)
membership comparisons of aaasp and naspspa
Membership Comparisons of AAASP and NASPSPA:

Interest Areas

Ex. & Sp PsychMotor Learning / ControlMotor Development

n = 258 n=266 n=155

38% 39% 23%

PsychologistsSport ScienceOthers:

N=495 N=572 N=40

45% 52% 3%

applied sport psychology sport psychology and it s growing pains
Applied Sport Psychology: Sport Psychology and It’s Growing Pains:
  • Concerned with extending theory/research to educate coaches, athletes, and parents regarding goals for facilitating optimal sport involvement and performance,
    • Usually involves individual/group consulting and counseling
    • Many specific concepts (goal setting, imagery, concentration, relaxation, imagery) BUT
      • General goal is teaching athletes mental skills necessary to perform consistently and realize their potential as people and athletes.

Focal Areas of Applied Sport Psychology:

  • Performance enhancement / intervention
  • Social Psychology
  • Health and Exercise
1 performance enhancement intervention
1. Performance Enhancement / Intervention:
  • Focus is on performance improvements in any achievement setting
  • Also concerned with effects of interventions on well-being of sport / exercise participants
  • Examples:
    • Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) with athletes
    • Attentional Training effectiveness
    • Flow experiences in sport
2 social psychology emphasis
2. Social Psychology Emphasis
  • Uses theory / research to focus on group processes in sport & exercise settings
  • Social factors are examined as they relate to athletes, coach, team, and spectators
  • Examples of special interests:
    • Achievement motivation (Achievement Goal Theory)
    • Moral development through sport
    • Peer relationships in physical activity and sport
    • Youth sports (The reverse-dependency trap)
    • Social Physique Anxiety in Sport and Exercise Settings (A problem at both ends of the spectrum)
3 health and exercise
3. Health and Exercise:
  • Focuses on role of psych. Factors in exercise; as they pertain to resistance to disease development & remediation, coping with stress, and health promotion
  • Primary interest is link between mental and physical health.
  • Examples of special interest areas:
    • Problem-focused vs. emotion focused coping and health
    • Hardiness and disease risk (Control, Challenge, Commitment)
    • Exercise and Psychoneuroimmunology
    • Psychological benefits of exercise
major splits in recent years within the field
Major Splits in Recent Years within the Field:

Sport Psychology







why the need for exercise psychology
Why the Need for Exercise Psychology?

Prevalence of risk factors for CHD in the general US population for 1980 - 2005

Behaviors are easier to maintain in environments that are supportive of that behavior- for better ….. Or worse…
sample interest areas within exercise psychology
Sample Interest Areas within Exercise Psychology:
  • Designing exercise programs to maximize psych. Benefits
  • Exercise addictions
  • Exercise adoption, maintenance, and adherence
  • Exercise as a stress management technique
  • Gender / Sex-role influences on exercise
  • Overuse injuries in exercise settings
  • The runners/exercisers’ high
  • Psychotherapeutic influences of exercise for depression
  • Psychological benefits for specific populations
the certification issue aaasp required coursework for becoming an aaasp certified consultant
The Certification Issue: AAASPRequired Coursework for becoming an AAASP certified consultant


Courses Description

  • Professional ethics 1 course
  • Sport psychology 3 courses in all subdisciplines
  • Research Design, Stats or 1 course in any of these areas

psychological assessment

  • Biological bases of behavior 1 course in comparative psychology; physio psychology
  • Cognitive Affective bases Course in cognition, motor development or motor learning
  • Social Bases of behavior 1 course in social psychology
the certification issue aaasp required coursework for becoming an aaasp certified consultant20
The Certification Issue: AAASPRequired Coursework for becoming an AAASP certified consultant


Course Description

  • Biomechanical / physiological bases 1 course in kinesio., Ex. Physio, Biomechanics
  • Historical, philosophy, sociology 1 course in this area of sport sci
  • Skills, techniques, analysis 1 methods course in sport area


  • Psychopathology 1 course in abnormal
  • Counseling skills course work to foster basic counseling skills
  • Individual Behavior 1 course in developmental, personality theory, individual differences

Supervised Consulting Experience:

Verification of at least 400 hours of supervised experience in exercise and sport psychology

achievement goal theory
Achievement Goal Theory:
  • 3 major factors in determining the motivation levels of children in youth sport settings:
  • Goal Orientation
    • Task-orientation – success is defined as self-referent improvement
    • Ego-orientation – success is defined by social comparison and out-doing others
  • Motivational Climate
    • Mastery climate – focus is on learning, effort, cooperative strategies, and skill development
    • Performance climate – competitive, beating teammates, demonstrating superiority over others
  • Perceived ability
    • High – greater competence
    • Low – less competence
who would you most want to have as a young athlete
Who would you most want to have as a young athlete?
  • Hi task/hi ego?
  • Hi task/low ego?
  • Low task/High ego?
  • Low task/Low ego?