Sports Psychology Topics


Becoming an elite athlete requires more than possessing impressive physical ability. Athletes train their bodies to be stronger and faster, but sometimes neglect their mental capacities; however, mental skills training is likely to enhance an athlete's performance. Sport psychologists provide tools that allow athletes to train harder, manage emotions and become leaders.


  • Self-talk is a tool successful athletes use to motivate and prepare themselves for competition. Individual humans, consciously and subconsciously, maintain an internal dialogue with themselves. Athletes can use self-talk in a planned, consistent and positive manner to enhance their performance. The skill does not occur naturally. An athlete must exert self-control over his self-talk in order to make it effective. According to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, in the moments before a race begins, a sprinter trained in self-talk might think, "Explode!" An untrained sprinter might worry, "Am I ready for this race?"

Anger Management

  • Athletes that engage in negative self-talk sometimes experience anger with themselves before, during and after poor performances. The anger is not used in a constructive manner and affects the athlete's concentration and mental well being, causing error during training and contests. By using positive self-talk to affirm rather than belittle athletic ability, athletes can enhance their performance. A positive affirmation could be a sprinter thinking, "I'm a smart runner," or, "I have fun competing." Athletes wishing to manage anger should consider what makes them angry, how they currently deal with anger, how they'd like to handle anger during competition and positive affirmations to use states Dr. Kay Porter of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Pain Tolerance

  • All physical sports contain elements of pain, and it is essential for most successful athletes to possess pain tolerance. Feeling fatigued, feeling discomfort and experiencing sensations of pain are part an athlete's life. Pushing oneself beyond the limit is a goal most successful athletes share; however, athletes can experience negative training pain. It is important for athletes to accept some pain as part of the sport, but they should learn to differentiate between positive and negative pain. Training through or ignoring an injury can jeopardize an athlete's future and health.


  • Leaders usually possess individual subjective, intangible qualities that contribute to their ability to lead, but there are qualities that most leaders share states Karlene Sugarman on Psych Web . Leaders must be confident, ambitious, assertive and respectful. Leaders inspire their teammates to train hard and to commit to team goals. Leaders must possess the qualities that they want incorporated into the culture of their team. A leader must be disciplined for his or her team to be disciplined. Leaders are generally task oriented — concerned with obtaining a goal — as well as people-oriented — concerned with maintaining cohesion and interpersonal chemistry.

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