Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Sport Psychology: The Ultimate Spring Board of Excellence

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Sport Psychology: The Ultimate Spring Board of Excellence

Article excerpt

Since the first Olympic Games performed in Greece in 776 B.C, sport has become an essential aspect of nearly every society (Brasch, 1970). On the other hand, psychology, since its official beginning in 1879 with Wundt's laboratory in Leipzig, has occupied a prominent place globally and has profoundly influenced fields such as sports and physical activity (Singer, Hausenblas, & Janelle, 2001)

In the past 50 years, sport psychology as a science and a profession has grown tremendously. Sport psychology typically is considered a sub-discipline of both the psychological and sport sciences and defined as:

* Singer (1978) defined it as "the science of psychology applied to sport".

* "a field of study in which the principles of psychology are applied in a sports setting" (Cox, 1985)

* "the branch of sport and exercise science that seeks to provide answers to questions about human behavior in sport" (Gill, 1986)

* American Psychological Association's (APA, 2009) Division 47 (Exercise & Sport Psychology) website states: "Exercise and sport psychology is the scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other types of physical activity" (What is Exercise and Sport Psychology?, para. 1).

* "Sport psychology is a unified field of psychological principles and interventions directly applied to sport" (Mohan, Kaur & Kaur, 2014).

Several studies have revealed the importance and acceptance of sport psychology. However, the crucial question about the real nature of sport psychology is difficult to answer precisely. Although many definitions have been suggested, there is no comprehensive and internationally accepted definition of sport psychology until now. There is, therefore, a need for a clear description and definition for this area of growing importance.

Although some cultures and languages use distinct terms for different types of physical activity, in this statement the term sport is used as an umbrella term including all kinds of exercise, sport and physically active pursuits.

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 behaviour or on different psychological dimensions of human behaviour, i.e. affective, cognitive, motivational or sensory-motor dimensions.

The physical activity can take place in competitive, educational, recreational, preventative and rehabilitation settings and includes health-related exercise. Subjects are all persons involved in the different sport and exercise settings, e.g. athletes, coaches, officials, teachers, physiotherapists, parents, spectators etc.

How is sport psychology constituted?

Sport psychology as a scientific discipline, as well as a professional field, is loosely associated with, and draws upon, the three areas of (1) sport practice, (2) psychology and (3) other sport sciences. These areas are considered equally valid. All of them have a bearing on the topics, the theoretical foundations, the methodological approaches, and the scientific and ethical standards of sport psychology.

The interrelations between these areas are briefly described as follows:

* Sport psychology - Sport practice: Sport psychology is faced with issues that arise from exercise and sport practice. It tries to better understand these demands and attempts to give assistance in satisfying them.

* Sport psychology - Psychology: Sport psychology is an applied sub-discipline of psychology. It partly draws upon knowledge adopted from different branches of psychology and contributes to the further understanding of psychology in general.

* Sport psychology - Other sport sciences: Sport psychology is one discipline of the sport sciences. The more sport psychology generates specific knowledge by empirical work in the field of sport and physical activity, the more the findings and methods of other sport sciences have to be accounted for. …

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