What is sport psychology?

Sport psychology is the study and application of psychological principles and skills to address the optimal performance and mental well-being of athletes, help participants more thoroughly enjoy the exercise and sport performance process, as well as maximising social aspects of sports participation.

Increasingly, exercise psychologists are seen as a regular part of an athlete’s team in Australia, equipping them with a range of tools to perform at their best by focusing on their minds and physical abilities. The use of psychological principles and an understanding of mental health are important in helping athletes perform better, face and overcome problems, achieve their goals, and ultimately reach their full potential.

Sport psychology and exercise psychology research focuses on the benefits of physical activity for mental health and the practice of using psychological principles to enhance athletes’ performance. This development of knowledge and understanding is crucial to the profession, as sport and exercise psychologists help athletes to achieve better mental and physical health outcomes. Sports and exercise’s emotional and social aspects are also essential, as they contribute to overall health and well-being. In practice, the role of the exercise psychologist is to help participants achieve their goals through mental and emotional support and to maximise the social aspects of participation in sport.

What is a sport psychologist?

At the Brisbane Counselling Centre, our experienced sport psychologists deeply understand psychological factors and psychological skills that contribute to success in sports and physical activity. They can help you improve performance through mental preparation and provide further information to enhance your overall health and development. A sports psychologist can function as a consultant or therapist or work in conjunction with trainers to design a program that can benefit you effectively.

Additionally, the strategies used to help athletes are applicable to many other disciplines, including academic performance, business training, public speaking, and ‘life coaching’. With our knowledge and expertise, we can help you achieve your goals in sports and life, not just in Australia but globally. If you’re looking to enhance your practice and effectively develop your skills, our sport psychologists can help.

Why is sport psychology important?

The diversity, unpredictability, and intensity of sport presents challenges to the athlete both on a physical and psychological level. Sport psychology is invaluable in the following ways: improving focus and helping to deal with distractions, improving the resilience of athletes, developing coping skills to deal with setbacks and errors, helping athletes to create ‘the performance zone’, aiding teams to develop communication skills and cohesion, improving or balancing motivation for peak performance, developing post-injury confidence, cultivating game specific strategies, and assisting athletes to cope with pressure. 

Having an optimal mindset is just as important as adopting a physical training regimen.

What can a sport and exercise psychologist help with?

Sports psychology (sometimes referred to as performance psychology) addresses a range of symptomatic issues including:

  • Performance anxiety & stress: Over-preoccupation with thoughts and worries about sporting achievement, expectations or training and subsequent loss of life balance can negatively impact performance and general mental health.
  • Sadness or depression: Issues around achievement, career, sporting culture, and pressure to succeed can lead to feeling depressed, hopeless, trapped or uncertain of one’s athletic vocation.
  • Generalised anxiety: You may notice physical manifestations including but not limited to muscle tension, insomnia, digestive issues, tension headaches and lethargy, and behavioural changes such as social withdrawal, irritability, and issues with drugs/alcohol.
  • Conflicts with coaches, teammates, or loved ones: Sport psychologists can mediate interpersonal conflict in sporting/academic organisations as well as help resolve social/family tension.
  • Recovery from injury: Commonly, an athlete can struggle with the pressures of returning to compete, fears about re-injury and possible de-selection, and disappointment around missed opportunities to perform. Additionally, they may have some retained trauma associated with the injury itself. A sport psychologist can offer services designed to assist the athlete to return to their previous performance standards.
  • Systemic issues: Teams or individuals may seek out support in coping with issues affecting an entire team or community, including racism, sexism, hazing, and substance abuse.

Attending at Brisbane Counselling Centre are psychologists who are specifically trained in the area of sports coaching and exercise psychology and who can assist you with any of the following:

  • performance enhancement
  • motivation, leadership, endurance techniques
  • goal setting
  • regulating arousal, concentration: cues, triggers
  • performance anxiety & slumps
  • pre-performance routines, self-talk, mantras, meditation
  • emotional well-being, mindfulness, stress management, relaxation
  • exercise perseverance
  • team or personal conflict
  • time management
  • self-confidence
  • guided/scripted motor imagery
  • coping with injury
  • transitioning: breaks, guided recovery
  1. Re-imagining motor imagery: Building bridges between cognitive neuroscience and sport psychology. Moran, A et al. British Journal of Psychology 103, 224–247

Sport & Exercise Psychologyin Brisbane

If you think that you or someone you know could benefit from seeing a sport and exercise psychologist then please give us a call on 07 3831 4452. Our receptionists are very kind and friendly and are always keen to assist with any questions you may have.

We look forward to being of help!

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