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					   The Psychology of
Chapter 20
Sport Psychology
   How people think,
    feel, and behave in
    sporting situations
    and what mental
    processes motivate
    the way they behave
    in training and in
Mental and Physical Connection
                 In the case of athletic
                  performance, the brain’s
                  cerebal cortex plays a
                  key role

                 As the source of thought,
                  it generates the general
                  mental state that a
                  person finds him/herself
                  in prior to an athletic
                  i.e. nervousness
        Performance State
     “In the Zone” or “Flow”
   The complete absence of doubt and fear of
   A lack of critical thought of performance during
   Narrow focus of attention, with little or no
    signs of distraction from the goals of
   A sense of effortlessness
   Powerful feelings of being “in control” of ones
   No feeling of being rushed i.e. opponents,
    game clock
         Performance State
           “In the Zone”
Ideal Performance State - “Flow”
 Achieving this ideal performance state
 represents the ultimate psychological
 achievement in sport—the perfect mix of
 physical and mental forces
    Key Terms:
 Arousal
• the state in which the athlete feels ready
  both psychologically and physically to
  hi/her best in competition
  “psyched up”
• extreme arousal can impede physical
  and mental pathways, leading to poor
“Flow” or “In the Zone”
 Characteristics of this ideal performance
 state/optimal level of arousal include:

 >balance of skill and challenge
 >complete absorption in activity
 >merging of action and awareness
 >total concentration
 >loss of self consciousness
 >sense of control
 >effortless movement
How People Achieve Flow
   motivation to perform

   achieving optimal arousal levels and physical
    preparation before competition

   maintaining appropriate focus

   pre competitive and competitive plans for

   optimal environmental and situational conditions

   confidence and mental attitude
   An athlete’s poor performance under
   Underachieving during important events or
    “When it comes to choking, the bottom line is
    everyone does it. The question isn’t whether
    you choke or not, but how and when you choke
    and the way that you are going to handle it.
    Choking is a big part of every sport, and a part
    of being a champion is being able to cope with it
    better than everyone else.”
 1. A basketball game is tightly fought, the lead
 shifting after each basket. Finally with 2
 seconds left and her team down by 2 points,
 steady guard Julie Lancaster gets fouled in the
 act of shooting and is awarded 2 foul shots.
 Julie is a 90% free-throw shooter. She steps up
 to the line, makes her first shot, but misses her
 second, and her team loses. Did Julie choke?
 2. Jane is involved in a close tennis match. After
 splitting the first 2 sets with her opponent, she is
 now serving for the match 5-4, the score 30-30.
 On the next 2 points, Jane double-faults to lose
 the game and even the set a 5-5. However,
 Jane then comes back to break serve and hold
 her own serve to close out the set and
 match. Did Jane choke?
3. Bill Moore is a baseball player with a batting
  average of .355. His team is playing a one
  game playoff to decide who will win the league
  championship and advance to the district finals.
  Bill goes 0 for 4 in the game, striking out twice
  with runners in scoring position. In addition, in
  the bottom of the ninth he comes up with bases
  loaded and one out and all he needs to do is hit
  the ball out of the infield to tie the game. Instead
  he grounds out into a game ending and game
  losing double play. Did Bill choke?
    Key Terms:

 Anxiety
• a general sense of uncertainty at what lies
• sport psychologists work with athletes to
  control anxiety prior to competition and
  channel these feelings into a mental state
  which actually enhances performance
Key Terms:
 Relaxation
• the mind-body state in which an athlete
  has no feelings of anxiety
Key Terms:
  Concentration
• the ability to keep one’s focus on the task
  at hand without being distracted from it by
  changes in the surrounding environment
• key part of athletic success
• athletes are required to sort out, very
  rapidly, which external information (i.e.
  crowd) and internal feelings (i.e. self-
  doubt) are relevant to their performance
  and which are irrelevant
Types of Attentional Focus
   Broad: allows a person to perceive several
    occurrences simultaneously
    ex. basketball player on a fast break

   Narrow: when you respond to only one or two cues
    ex. golfer lining up a putt

   External: focus directs attention outward to an object
    ex. a ball in baseball, puck in hockey

   Internal: focus is directed inward to thoughts and
    ex. a bowler readies their approach
*   Dimensions of Attentional Style (Adapted from Nideffer & Sharpe, 1978)
 Key Terms:

 Motivation
• the “direction and intensity of effort”

    Direction: the tendency of a person to be
    attracted to certain sport situations.

    Intensity: measure of how much actual physical
    and mental energy one is willing to put forth
Types of Motivation

   Extrinsic motivation: use of rewards
    and/or punishments to increase
    ex. awards, money, push ups

   Intrinsic motivation: motivation is
    achieved from within
    ex. enjoyment of competition, fun, for the
    “love” of sport
Audience and Fatigue
 Audience
  - athletes must work on the ability to
  screen out the crowd or to channel it to
  enhance performance
 Fatigue
  -athletes need to understand that fatigue,
  although inevitable, can be overcome
  “pushing through the pain barrier” can
  lead to previously unrealized performance
Factors Affecting Performance
Psychological Skills Training (PST):
 -sport psychologists and athletes use
 specific tools to improve athletic

1. Self –Talk:
 Monologue that goes through one’s mind
  that encourage oneself to achieve
 Important to control this internal talk in a
  positive way, to enable relaxation and
  achieve peak performance
Psychological Tools
2. Imagery/Visualization:

   refers to creating or recreating an experience in the mind

   Sport psychologists work with athletes to help them
    visualize themselves succeeding.

   Athletes will often attempt to recreate sensory tools
    including hearing, smell, and touch to develop a sense of
    what success “feels” like.

   If athletes have a hard time relaxing before a game, they
    may be encouraged to imagine themselves lying down
    alone in a quiet room. Thinking about positive experiences
    from the past.
Psychological Tools
2. Imagery/Visualization:

Uses of Imagery:

  -reduced anxiety
  -building confidence
  -enhancing concentration
  -recovering from injury
  -practice of specific skills and strategies
Imagery can be performed before, after, and during practice
  and competitions!

  *the only athletes that seem to benefit from imagery
  techniques are the ones who believe it is a powerful tool for
  athletic enhancement
Psychological Tools
2. Imagery/Visualization:
   Golfing great Jack Nicklaus used mental imagery to
    a great extent. In describing how he images his
    performance, he wrote:
    “I never hit a shot even in practice without having a
    sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a colour
    movie. First, I “see” the ball where I want it to finish.
    Nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green
    grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I “see” the
    ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its
    behaviour on landing. Then there’s a sort of fade-out,
    and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing
    that will turn the previous images into reality only at the
    end of this short private Hollywood spectacular do I
    select a club and step up to the ball.”
Psychological Tools
3. Hypnosis:

   refers to a state of intense concentration in
    which the mind directs the body to perform
    certain acts while blocking out all external
    stimuli, except the ones that are essential to
    the completion of the ultimate goal

   the key element of hypnosis is the
    willingness of a person to respond to
    suggestions and to act on them
Psychological Tools
Hypnosis continued…
   a trained therapist works with the subject in 3 phases:

    1.   lnduction phase--the subject experiences
         relaxation (feels sleepy) and confidence

    2.   Hypnotic phase--the subject can move from the
         relaxed state of neutral hypnosis to one of waking
         hypnosis (able to carry out instructions while in a
         trance-like state)
         -post hypnotic suggestions performed

    3.   Wake up phase--coming out of trance, usually with
         a signal
Psychological Tools
4. Relaxation:

   Nervousness and anxiety are accompanied by
    changes in a range of autonomic nervous
    functions, including changes in heart rate,
    breathing patterns, muscle tension, blood
    pressure, and body temperature

   Sport psychologists look for a way to control
    these reactions voluntarily (enforce a state of
    relaxation over the mind and body)
    i.e. Breathing control exercises, progressive
    relaxation exercises, meditation
Psychological Tools
5. Motivation:

   Some degree of motivation is
     required for anyone competing
    at any level of sport
    – otherwise, no one would be at the starting
    line or at practice sessions
     Five Guidelines for Building
   1. Situations and Personal Traits motivate people!

    Must consider the situational and personal factors
    that increase motivation
    Situational: “this game isn’t that important”
    Personal: “this team does not want to win enough

   2. People have multiple motives for involvement !

    Understand why people participate.
    ex. fun, social, development , recognition, success
    -motives change over time
     Five Guidelines for Building
       Motivation continued...
   3. Change the environment to enhance motivation
    -provide both competitive and recreation
    -provide multiple opportunities
    ex. fun vs. rigorous training
    -adjust to individuals within groups
    ex. being flexible
    *can be very difficult to accomplish

   4. Leaders influence motivation
    -be aware of your actions and inactions
    -be positive

   5. Change undesirable participant motives
    ex. football player wants to play to inflict pain on others
    vs. playing to be competitive
Psychological Tools
6. Setting Goals:
   a goal is an objective or aim of action

Types of Goals:
1. Subjective goals: general statements of intent
  ex. “I want to do well”

2. Objective goals: focus of attaining a specific standard of
   proficiency on a task
  ex. “I want to lose 10lbs in 2 months

3. Outcome goals: focus on a competitive result of an event
   ex. winning a race
Psychological Tools
Types of Goals continued:

4. Performance goals: focus on achieving standards or
   performance objectives independently of other
   competitors, usually making comparisons with one’s
   own previous performance
   ex. increasing the number of goals scored compared to
   last year

5. Process goals: focus on the actions an individual must
   engage in during performance to execute or perform
   ex. keep eye on ball during golf swing
S.M.A.R.T. Principle:

 Specific – precisely defined
 Measurable - quantified
 Attainable – within athlete’s limitations
 Realistic – attainable within constraints
 Timely – achievable within a set time
Psychological Tools
7. Developing Concentration

   Concentration, in the athletic sense hinges on
    being able to maintain one’s focus in the face of
1.   Internal distractors: attending to past and/or
     future events, fatigue, and overanalyzing body

2.   External distractors: visual factors (ie.
     audience), crowd noise, opponent’s
 Self-talk: anytime you think about
 something, you are in a sense talking to

 Positive: can enhance self-esteem,
 motivation, and focus

 Negative: can produce anxiety, reduce
Improving Concentration:
   using simulations in practice
   employing cue words
   instructional (ex. follow through, watch the ball)
   motivational (ex. relax, hang in there)
   using non-judgmental thinking
   developing competitive plans
   establish routines
The Quest for Excellence
The Wheel of Excellence – Terry Orlick
The Quest for Excellence
The Wheel of Excellence – Terry Orlick
 “they (seven key elements of excellence)
 provide (as a whole) the mental keys that
 empower you to excel and free you to
 become the person and performer you
 really want to be…each of the elements of
 excellence is within your potential control.”

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