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Sport Psychology

Megan E. Brent and Adrienne Leslie-Toogood

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Sport psychology is the scientific study of psychological factors associated with sport participation and performance and the practical application of this knowledge to assist athletes in enhancing performance and achieving optimal mental health. Sport psychology as a discipline is similar to positive psychology in that the primary focus is on building human strengths and striving for optimal experiences. Topics researched and applied by sport psychologists include peak performance, mental skills such as imagery and self-talk, relaxation techniques, leadership, goal setting, motivation, attention and concentration, team dynamics, personality factors, gender and multicultural issues, coaching effectiveness, athletic identity injuries, burnout, unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, psychological concerns such as depression and anxiety ethical issues of research and practice, and the impact of sport participation on development and well-being. Sport psychology is a relatively new field, and the origins can be traced to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The exceptional performances of athletes from these respective countries at various Olympic Games led to increased interest in the application of this sport science. Weinberg and Gould suggest that the historical development of the field can be divided into six eras: the early years (1895–1920), the Griffith era (1921–1938, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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