What is Sports Psychology | Sports Psychologist | Mental Toughness

Sports psychology

What is sports psychology?

Sports psychology addresses the interplay between an individual’s psychology and sport performance. This includes psychological aspects of athletic performance, the psychological well-being of the athlete and healthy interactions between athletes, coaches, and sport organizations. Traditionally speaking, sports psychology is broken down into these three categories:

  1. Sports psychology – focuses upon the application of psychotherapy within the context of athletic competition
  2. Exercise Psychology – focuses upon researching the social cognitive, behavioral and psychobiological precursors and consequences of physical activity within the context of maintaining of a physical activity routine.
  3. Performance Psychology focuses on the psychology of human performance within professions or athletics that demand excellence in psychomotor performance


What does the sports psychologist do?

What do sport psychologist do? A licensed sports psychologist has the ability to diagnose disorders and prescribed pharmaceutical prescriptions. Some of the tools and resources a sports psychologist may apply to a patient are the following:

  • Visualization techniques to enhance sports performance
  • Mental health evaluations
  • Counsel regarding the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing illicit drugs
  • Manage pre-performance anxiety through the use of psychotherapy or pharmaceuticals

In general, sport psychology is an invented field for psychologist to focus on a specific niche including athletes. There is an element of it that is just another way for an institution to make money by offering sports psychology graduate programs. In many cases, most athletes tend to deal with some form of post traumatic stress and the sports psychologist is responsible for helping these individuals to develop healthy, long-lasting resources to manage stress. Such techniques are often aimed at developing mental toughness and resilience.

Another important role that sports psychologist do play is to evaluate potential team members at collegiate and professional levels of competition. Because there is such a tremendous amount of money being invested in an individual who’s going to participate on a team specific organization, these organizations want to ensure that their money is well spent and that the athlete is a mentally healthy individual.

What would sports psychology programs include?

If you are looking to find a sports psychologist you’ll want to be certain that he or she has credentials or training resources to help with the following:

Arousal regulation

This refers to entering and maintaining an optimal level of cognitive and physiological activation to maximize performance. Sport psychology programs could include progressive muscle relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and meditation routines. Is the sport psychologist has been trained in NLP then he or she will most definitely utilize anchors and triggers as forms of energizing techniques.

Goal setting

This is the process of strategically planning to achieve specific outcomes within a specified amount of time. Such goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-based.

Guided Imagery

Effective guided imagery is utilized to create a lifelike representation of successful accomplishment of a goal through the use of multiple representational senses (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory and olfactory). These approaches are commonly used by athletes and coaches on routine basis.

Pre-performance routines

Pre-performance routines includes specific pregame routines, warm up routines, and processes athletes will regularly go through,  physically and mentally, before they perform. The reason for pre-performance routines is help to develop consistency, install anchors and create predictability for the athlete. This conditions the muscles and mind for better motor control and state management.


The phrase self-talk refers to the inner dialogue (the thoughts and words) athletes say to themselves both sub-vocally or internally. The quality of self talk is dependent upon more than just the words being said as most NLP practitioner know. Motivating self talk also relies upon the submodalities of tonality, ownership of the voice, location, tempo, cadence, direction and many more NLP auditory submodalities.

What is mental toughness?

Mental toughness is the result of and athlete who is prepared to experience peak performance. Such an athlete is capable of managing his or her emotional state, staying in a flow state, avoiding states of anxiety, and having the capacity to manage discomfort for heightened amount of time. I have created a program that brings all of these resources together and it is called Advanced Sports Imagery for Athletes. This program is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in increasing mental toughness through applied sports psychology.




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