Carrying out of specific physical routines or procedures by one who is trained or skilled in physical activity. Performance is influenced by a combination of physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors.

Athletes Performance


Sport psychology is concerned with the psychological foundations, processes, and consequences of the psychological regulation of sport-related activities of one or several persons acting as the subject(s) of the activity. The focus may be on the behaviour or on different psychological dimensions of human behaviour (i.e., affective, cognitive, motivational, or sensorimotor dimensions) (p. 221).

They also state that they use sport as an umbrella term to include exercise, sport, and physical activity pursuits. Note that these definitions limit sport psychology to research, not practice, and confuse things conceptually by including exercise psychology.

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s (AASP, 2010) definition appears to address the practice issue:

Applied sport and exercise psychology involves extending theory and research into the field to educate coaches, athletes, parents, exercisers, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity. A primary goal of professionals in applied sport and exercise psychology is to facilitate optimal involvement, performance, and enjoyment in sport and exercise (About Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology, para. 1).

The inclusion of exercise psychology within this definition blurs some important distinctions.

Although all these definitions seem to delimit the components of sport psychology, the definitions end up implying: take everything in the practice of general psychology and relate it to people who move. These definitions focus more on the population than on theories, issues, and interventions. This makes it too easy for people to believe that doing anything related to the practice of psychology with an athlete is

sport psychology. Too many people (including licensed psychologists with little to no training in sport psychology) choose to define sport psychology based solely on working with an athletic population. However, as Aoyagi and Portenga (2010) recently observed:

One issue that appears to contribute to misunderstandings regarding the scope of [sport psychology] has to do with the demographics of the clientele. Oftentimes, people (both the public clientele and professional practitioners) will define any psychological work with an athlete as sport psychology. This is problematic because defining the field based on who the clientele is disregards the unique interventions, techniques, and professional literature that make sport psychology a distinct field requiring specific training and competency (p. 254).

It seems that there are really multiple, yet interrelated, labels in this discussion. The umbrella term sport psychology is primarily defined in relation to the academic discipline and includes a wide range of topics. Many professionals research and teach sport psychology but do not “do” sport psychology (at least not as a professional identity). For those who focus professionally on “doing,” the term Applied Sport Psychology was introduced. Initially this term was specific to the practice of sport psychology with athletes and coaches. However, many people today use sport psychology and applied sport psychology interchangeably. A clearer definition of applied sport psychology will ensure consumers receive competent, effective services. Thus, this paper will focus on clarifying what the practice of sport psychology (applied sport psychology) involves.



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