Counselling Athletes: Applying Reversal Theory

Counselling Athletes: Applying Reversal Theory

Counselling Athletes: Applying Reversal Theory

Counselling Athletes: Applying Reversal Theory


Reversal theory is an innovative psychological theory exploring human motivation, emotion and personality. This is the first book in the field to examine how reversal theory can be used by practitioners in applied sport psychology in their counselling work with athletes. Counselling Athletesexplores the key elements of reversal theory, and comprehensively demonstrates how reversal theory can improve understanding in the following key areas:

• athletes' motivational states when performing

• athletes' motivational characteristics

• identifying performance problems

• athletes' experiences of stress

• intervention strategies

• eating disorders

• exercise addiction.
Each chapter includes real-life case study material from elite performers in sport, as well as guides to further reading and questions for discussion.
Counselling Athletesis essential reading for all practising sport psychologists and coaches, and for any student of sport psychology.


Previous books on reversal theory and sport have concentrated on theoretical issues and research results. This book examines the use of reversal theory (Apter, 1982, 1989) in psychological practice. It focuses on the ways in which reversal theory can be used to understand athlete behaviour and in the design of intervention programmes for assisting sport psychologists in counselling athletes.

As reversal theory explanations of athlete behaviour are becoming better known in contemporary sport psychology, the popularity of the theory is steadily increasing, because many of those who encounter it find that it explains what they themselves have experienced in sport. Reversal theory seems to make sense, explaining psychological experience far more satisfactorily than other current theories in psychology.

The same is true of reversal theory sport research, which has now been carried out with athletes across a very wide range of sports. Reversal theory explanations of the research results are not only providing greater insight into understanding athletes' motivation, emotion and personality, but also providing confirmation of the validity of the ideas and arguments put forward by the theory.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, the word counsel means to give professional advice to somebody with a problem. Although I believe that there are athletes who can perform to their maximum without seeking psychological advice and many who are capable of dealing with any problems which may occur along the way, I also know from personal experience that there are some athletes who can benefit from psychological counselling.

I well remember teammates and opponents from my own time playing rugby who were physically gifted and extremely talented, but who never quite fulfilled their potential because of some psychologically-based problem. First, there was Steve, a magical outhalf who had all the skills necessary for the position. He could pass with precision, kick with accuracy, he had tremendous speed and a sidestep that left opponents floundering. However, as his team's play-maker he had enormous problems in decision-making and, more often than not, he called the wrong move or took the wrong option. Second, there was Alan, a young, developing fullback who, as well as being a better than average rugby player, had good soccer skills. He was his team's designated place kicker and had a sound

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.