What is sports psychology?

Increasingly sport psychologists are seen as a regular part of an athlete’s team. Although they may not help them with physical training, they are an important part of helping athletes perform better by focusing on their minds. Sports psychology revolves around helping athletes face and overcome problems, achieve their goals and ultimately enhance their performance.

What is a sports psychologist?

A sports psychologist can have varied experience that includes research and working with patients. Although sports psychologists focus on mental wellbeing, they can function as consultants, therapists or work in conjunction with trainers. Additionally, it should be noted that the strategies used to help athletes are applicable to many other disciplines, including academic performance, business training, public speaking, and ‘life coaching’.

Why is sports psychology important?

By focusing on an athlete’s mind instead of their body, sports and exercise psychology can be a key part of giving athletes tools to cope. Whether its coping with pressure, overcoming performance fears or simply maintaining motivation, having a well looked after mind is just as important as their physical training regimen.

What can sports psychologists help with?

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

  • Persistent 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 your 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 or alcohol.
  • Conflicts with coaches, teammates, or loved ones: Sports psychologists can mediate interpersonal conflict in sporting/academic organisations as well as help resolve social or family tension.
  • Recovery from injury: Helping athletes recover after an injury is also a common practice for sports psychologists as athletes can struggle with the pressures of returning to compete and may have some complicated feelings or fears depending on how they sustained their injury.
  • 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.

At Brisbane Counselling Centre we have 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 1.
  • coping with injury
  • transitioning: breaks, guided recovery
Contact us

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Contact us

If you think that you or someone you know could benefit from seeing one of our sports and exercise psychologists 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!

1. Re-imagining motor imagery: Building bridges between cognitive neuroscience and sport psychology. Moran, A et al. British Journal of Psychology 103, 224–247