KNR 164
What is
Exercise & Sport Psychology?
 Study of human thought, emotion, and behavior in PA
 Two main objectives:
 1. To understand how psychological factors affect in
individual’s performance
 2. To understand how participation in sport and exercise
affects one’s psychological development, health, and
ABC’s of
Exercise & Sport Psychology
 A = affect (emotion)
 How do anxiety or anger influence performance?
 B = behavior (actions)
 Why are some people so committed to a PA routine and
others not?
 C = cognition (thoughts)
 Why do some athletes choke under pressure?
Exercise Psychology
 Exercise Psychology: devoted to the study of the
psychological aspects of fitness, exercise, health, and
 Areas of interest:
 Exercise and mental health
What is the relationship between PA and mental health?
 Exercise adherence
What behavioral factors are related to exercise adherence?
Exercise Psychology
 Exercise & Mental Health
 Psychological outcomes of PA, e.g. anxiety and
 Acute versus chronic exercise
 Exercise Adherence
 50% of those that start new PA program drop out within
first 6 months
 Adherence = regular participation 60-80% of time
Employment Opportunities for
Exercise Psychology
 College/University
 Teach, work on developing theory & conducting research on
psychological benefits of PA
 Corporation
 Worksite health promotion
 Community
 Develop fitness & wellness programs for a recreation
 Clinic
 Consultant for medical/PT clinic to help injured individuals
through psychological aspects of injury rehabilitation
Sport Psychology
 Sport Psychology: the study of mental factors related
to improving competitive sport performance
 Areas of interest:
 Personality characteristics
Do personality influence athletic performance?
 Pre-performance anxiety
 What is the relationship between preperformance anxiety and
sports performance?
 Performance enhancement techniques
 Which performance enhancement techniques are more
Sport Psychology
 Personality characteristics
 Conflicting results on the impact of personality on
performance early on.
 A negative relationship exists b/w psychopathology and
performance (Morgan, 1985)
 Pre-performance anxiety
 Relationship b/w preperformance anxiety and sports
 More than 30 different anxiety measures
Sport Psychology
 Performance enhancement techniques
 Psychological interventions to improve sports performance
Mental Imagery
 Internalized mental rehearsal
Goal Setting
 Attainment of a specific level of proficiency on a task
 What success and failure mean to that individual
 Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation
Confidence Enhancement
 Belief that one will be successful. Based on state and trait
Sport Psychology
 Considered a graduate-level field
 Some schools offer undergraduate minors
 Fully credentialed ‘sport psychologist’ advanced degree
in sports psychology required
Employment Opportunities for
Sports Psychology
 College/university
 teaching, research, working with collegiate athletic
 Professional sports teams
 consulting sport psychologist for individual athletes or
 United States Olympic Committee national teams
 United States military
 various motivational and behavioral functions
 Clinical psychologist
Sport and Exercise Psychology
Psychophysiological Orientation:
Best way to study behavior during sport / exercise is by
examining physiological processes in the brain; brainbody connections
Using biofeedback to train biathletes to shoot between
Examining changes in serotonin as explanation for
psychological benefit of exercise
Sport and Exercise Psychology
2. Social Psychological Orientation
 Assumption is behavior is determined by interchange
between person and their environment
 Examples:
How does leader behavior influence team cohesion?
Are people with high “esteem” more comfortable in samegender exercise settings?
Sport and Exercise Psychology
Cognitive-Behavioral Orientation:
Emphasis is on athlete’s / exercisers thoughts and
Is there a self-fulfilling prophecy linking self-talk and
batting slumps?
What does an exceptional athlete think about when “in the
Can game preparation be influenced?
Research Methods in Sport and
Exercise Psychology
 Questionnaires
 Psychological inventories: standardized measures of
specific forms of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors
 Interviews
 Structured, systematic to gain in-depth understanding
of individuals’ beliefs, experiences or values
Research Methods in Sport and
Exercise Psychology
 Observations
 In field observation of behavior to study a phenomena
 Physiological Measures
 Physical, mental, and emotional responses
(biofeedback) including muscle tension and brain waves
 e.g. blood pressure and heart rate to assess effects of
psychological stressors on individuals

Exercise and Sport Psychology