Sports Psychology – The Player’s Mantra

Sports Psychology


The definition of Sports Psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws on knowledge from many related fields including biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology, and psychology. It involves the study of how psychological factors affect performance, and how participation in sports affect psychological and physical factors.

In simple words, we can summarize that,

  • It is a science that deals with sportspeople and their neuro-conditions? 
  • A psychology that motivates and inspires players with theories?
  • Is it not only applicable to sportspeople but even to common person?


The earliest known documented formal study of the mental processes involved in Sports is attributed to Norman Triplett in 1898. It is mentioned that Triplett explored the positive effects of having competitors when he organized a cycling sports experiment. Slowly, similar experiments were conducted in a range of sports including archery and baseball by many psychologists. An experimental psychologist, Coleman Griffith opened America’s first athletics research laboratory at the University of Illinois in 1925. He continued his work in sports psychology till his retirement in 1962 and died in 1966, just a year before the founding of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity.

In 1970, University of Massachusetts professors Walter Kroll and Guy Lewis rediscovered Griffith’s work, analyzing the validation, and declared him “America’s First Sport Psychologist.”

The center opened by Griffin was renamed The Athletic Research Laboratory.

Finally, in the 1960s, Sports Psychology was acknowledged as a distinct discipline from psychology, and the International Society of Sports Psychology was formed in 1965. After a series of deliberation, in 1986, sports psychology founded its own division in American Psychology Association.

As commented by Aidan Moran (2012), “Sports are played by the body and won in the mind.”

Though the core purpose of Sports Psychology is to enhance the overall athletic performance of the players, the insights are useful for optimizing the overall personality of other individuals. A well-expert Sport Psychologist trains the player on how to deal with the consequences of the game and ensures the mindset is not adversely affected by the outcome. The potential of a game is not determined by his performance but also, the psychological mindset and well-being of the player.

Sport Psychology teaches the player to push the brain over the body. The vision, focus, and enduring mindset will create the psychological constructs that made unshakeable and famous athlete like Tiger Woods.

For athletes and sportspeople, mental toughness and robust behavior provide their abilities to perform and to bounce back. On parallel lines, the same philosophy is applicable to nonathletes that motivates them to enrich their personality. The prime learning of this psychology is to prepare mental toughness for an individual to perform in any situation.

The skills learned in sports psychology are transferable; we can adopt these to other domains such as education and the workplace.

Every player, irrespective of age or rank barrier needs to study and understand the wide aspects of sports psychology. This psychology develops a robust mindset that can eliminate all the negative feelings or inferior ranking that influence your happiness. Regular practices, tips, and techniques of games, strategies all play a pivotal role in leading to the victory point but sports psychology enhances your all-around personality development not only as a player but as an individual being.  


Here, a few real-life stories of how sports psychology intrinsically motivated the players to excel in their performance and push the limits.

Diver Laura Wilkinson broke three bones in her foot in the U.S. trials for the 2000 Olympics. Working with a sports psychologist, she created a routine to practice complex dive movements every day. Her practice shaped her performance and she went to take a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics despite her unhealed foot.

Sports Psychologist, Whyte, trained Eddie Izzard, the British comedian for the monumental challenge of running 43 consecutive marathons in a 6 weeks period. He leveraged the Goal-setting concept to motivate the individual toward that goal. The GOAL should be smart – i.e.  – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound to should be clear, realistic, and possible. So, something big can be broken down into a set of smaller, more manageable tasks to take us nearer to the overall goal

Ben Stokes decided in July 2021 to take a brain from cricket to focus on his mental well-being. Mental health is a wake-up call for not only sportsmen but every individual to rise to their full potential.

The UK defender, Tyrone Mings revealed on the front page of Sun newspaper that his mental health plummeted during the Euro 2020 due to anxiety issues over his selection and other prospective issues.

Besides, the theories and analysis, Sports Psychology also gives a deep insight into the coping mechanisms – breathing, meditation, relaxation, Zen techniques of mindfulness, and letting your subconscious take over you.

With the growing pressure in the sports domain, many players have recognized and approached Sports psychologists for professional counseling. The Dallas Mavericks had employed a sport psychologist on staff for 15 years to improve players’ concentration, focus, mental well-being, and playing techniques with Goals-setting activity.

Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki admitted that working with a mental coach helped him focus on the game process, minimize anxiety and develop a robust mindset that is needed to create a highly sustainable impact.

Antawn Jamison, whose career was defined in the NBA for 15 years, noted how a Sports Psychologist enhanced his communication skills. He could connect with his coach more effectively, express in a clear style and deal with his performance in a balanced way.


The rise of psychology in the Sports arena has given importance to mental well-being and other constructs like focus, grit, willpower, communication, counseling to remodel the player as an effective and seasoned athlete. The game is not always about winning or losing but playing in a sportsmanship spirit and improving the cohesion and your self-trust.

Sports Psychology leaves us an inspirational message that has something for all of us to take, “You will never get an audience to applause a robotic perfection or an emotionless execution or a dramatic performance in the ground or in your respective domain. It is the need of the hour, to see the performance that has a brave mindset, deep character, strong skills, and the boldness to leave a trail that is so arduous, only the powerful ones can follow…

Harshada Pathare

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