Sport and Exercise Psychology

Ross Shand

Ross Shand

Ross Shand explains,  “Sport and Exercise Psychology applies psychological principles and practices to sport and exercise, These are related areas but different in relation to their intended outcomes. The focus of sport psychology is to help improve competitive performance. In contrast, exercise psychology focuses on helping individuals increase physical activity, health and well-being”.



What is the aim of Sport Psychology?

The aim of sport psychology is to help you improve your athletic performance by considering the impact of mental factors.

Sport Psychologists work with athletes, coaches and support staff to enhance the performance of an individual or group. There are many transitions within sport, for example, moving from junior to senior team or competition, changing clubs, and retirement. These experiences can be challenging to manage and where appropriate sport psychologists can help athletes to cope with these transitions more effectively.  

Enhance Your Confidence, Motivation, Focus and Concentration

Sport Psychologists work to enhance your confidence, motivation, focus and concentration. They help manage pre performance anxiety/nerves. 

Teams and Groups

They also work with teams or groups considering group dynamics, communication and culture and create an environment where you can strive for peak performance.

Sports Injury Recovery

A Sport Psychologist can work with injured athletes to help them recover more effectively, helping them return to competing with the confidence. This kind of support would work best alongside the athlete’s physiotherapist, coaches and conditioning staff.

Who should work with a sport psychologist?

Anyone who is competing in sport! Sport psychology isn’t reserved for elite athletes, it is for anyone who partakes in a sport or physical activity and sees the mental side of the activity as being important. 

What do Exercise Psychologists do? Exercise psychologist focus on addressing actual and perceived barriers which impacts on individual’s engagement in physical activity, they may also use exercise as a method for improving an individual wellbeing.

How do exercise psychologists work?

Similar to sport psychologists this depends on their approach to practice and role. Some practitioners may work independently with clients whilst others may be part of support teams including other health professionals.

Who should engage with exercise psychology?

Anyone who wants to increase their own levels of physical activity to improve their health and wellbeing.

Shiels, K., (2016) : Mental health in Rugby League. Exploring potential mental health challenges faced within Rugby League.


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