Applied sport and exercise psychology involves extending theory and research into the field to educate coaches, athletes, parents, exercisers, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity. A primary goal of professionals in applied sport and exercise psychology is to facilitate optimal involvement, performance, and enjoyment in sport and exercise.
Practice in the field of applied sport and exercise psychology usually involves a combination of individual and group consulting or counseling depending on the style of the professional conducting the intervention and the needs of the client.
Certified Mental Performance Consultants® (CMPCs) and specially trained licensed psychologists are typically the most competent practitioners working in the field of applied sport and exercise psychology. Although there are many specific concepts within applied sport and exercise psychology (e.g., goal setting, concentration, motivation, relaxation, imagery), the general goal is to teach mental skills necessary to perform consistently in training and competition, increase adherence to exercise programs, and to help individuals realize their potential.
Currently, AASP is the largest sport and exercise psychology professional association in North America that offers certification to its members.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, working with a CMPC may be for you!
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During the last two decades, applied sport and exercise psychology has received significant and increasing attention from athletes, coaches, parents, and the media. Consider, for example:
Currently, AASP is the only sport and exercise psychology professional association in North America that offers certification to its members.
Skill most commonly used to help individuals who experience arousal at a level that is not effective (i.e., too high or too low) for optimal performance. These techniques can be used for anxiety, stress, and anger management. Common treatments include: (a) breathing exercises (e.g., diaphragmatic breathing, rhythmic breathing), (b) progressive relaxation, (c) meditation, (d) imagery or visualization, and (d) cognitive techniques (e.g., thought stopping and cognitive restructuring).
Being able to focus one’s awareness on relevant cues so they can deal effectively with their current situation. These skills help them maintain their mental intensity within a situation. Common techniques include: (a) attention control training (to avoid distractions) and (b) techniques to expand awareness (e.g., attending to performance cues and bodily sensations).
Skill used to help improve group cohesion and individual interactions in a sport setting (e.g., athlete–athlete, athlete–coach, coach–parent). Techniques used with this skill include: (a) teaching active listening and communicating skills (reflecting, clarifying, encouraging, paraphrasing), (b) helping individuals create a free and open environment, and (c) assertiveness training.
Skill commonly used for enhancing motivation, focusing attention on the aspects of performance that are most in need of improvement, or facilitating rehabilitation from injury. The establishment of a goal-setting program often includes several common components, including: emphasis on skill development (not the outcome, such as winning), identifying target dates for attaining goals, identifying goal achievement strategies, and providing regular goal evaluation.
Skill using all of the mind's senses (e.g., sight, sound, taste, touch, hearing, kinesthetic/muscular feel) to re-create or create an experience in the mind. Uses include: (a) mental preparation, (b) anxiety control, (c) attention, (d) building self-confidence, (e) learning new skills, and (f) injury recovery. Common components include the evaluation of imagery ability, the establishment of the proper physical and mental setting (i.e., relaxed and quiet), and practice creating vivid and controllable images.
This is what you say or think to yourself. Self-talk patterns are related to how people feel and act. Changing self-talk is commonly used for (a) prompting a specific behavior, (b) improving self–confidence, (c) attention control, (d) motivation, and (e) arousal control. Common components include the identification of negative or irrelevant thoughts, challenging these thoughts, the creation of positive thoughts, and the substitution of positive thoughts for the negative thoughts.
This is the process of helping the members of a group enhance their ability to work cohesively through the improvement of communication, group objectives, trust, and respect. Team building strategies are often used at the beginning of a season to help group members become more familiar and trusting of each other. Common techniques include group introductions of each other, ropes courses, and individual and team goal setting.
This is the ability to plan and maintain one's regular schedule in a way that avoids confusion, conflict and undue stress. Common time management techniques include: (a) teaching how to use a planner, (b) learning about the demands of a task, (c) setting legitimate goals for tasks, (d) understanding the demands of one’s life (managing role conflict), and (e) developing pre–performance routines.
Athletic Trainers work to prevent, assess, and treat injuries in athletes and exercisers. They provide acute and long–term care for injured physically active people, as well as design and monitor rehabilitation programs.
The Physical Therapist typically works in a sports medicine or hospital clinic to provide acute and long-term care for a variety of sport and work–related injuries. Designs and monitors rehabilitation programs.
The Coach is the organizational leader of a specific sports team. Often manages team affairs (travel, recruiting, scheduling) in addition to having a primary role as a teacher of sport-specific skills and strategy.
The Psychologist is trained in clinical or counseling psychology to provide individual or group therapy relative to a broad range of behavioral and emotional issues. Typically works in a public clinic or private practice.
Performance Enhancement Consultants are professionals trained in sport and exercise but are not licensed psychologists or counselors. Also known as sport and exercise psychology consultants or mental coaches. Provides individual or group consultations geared towards performance–related issues.