My Top 9 Favorite Topics of Sport Psychology

Here are my top 9 favorite topics to write about. Together, they summarize the overall picture of sport psychology and athletic development. If you learn the basics of each of these topics, you'll build a solid foundation as an athlete or coach. 

Beneath each topic, I will include an excerpt from my past writing and links. I've written in more detail about all of these topics, so if you want to learn more, keep reading my blog. I have most of these topics organized in the link "categories" on my homepage.

Sport psychology in general
I like to write about sport psychology as a field in general because I think many people don't have a good understanding of what it is. There are many myths about it. Many people can't even think of its definition. So here is the definition that I like the most:

Sport psychology is the study of the mind and behavior of athletes. The knowledge gained from sport psychologists can be applied to help improve athletic performance and mental health.

The Importance of attitudes
The bed rock of sport psychology is teaching productive and healthy attitudes about sports, practice, performance, success, and life.

Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. I define attitude as the way you think about something. Attitudes are basically your beliefs. Beliefs are important because they lead to actions and behavior, which lead to outcomes.

Alongside attitudes, motivation is perhaps my favorite topic to talk about, because without motivation and good attitudes, nothing else matters.

Similar to beliefs/attitudes, motivation is very important because it is a root cause of actions and outcomes. Motivation is the fuel to your behavior. Everything you do has a motive, or reason behind it. There are many different kinds of motives for playing sports. Some motives provide more “fuel” than others. Some motives have negative side effects. There is an art and a science to motivating yourself.

Peak Performance
Not far behind attitudes and motivation is peak performance on my list of favorite topics to write about. Helping athletes perform better in games is one of the most important parts of a sport psychologist's job.

Peak performance, often described as “the zone,” can be defined as playing up to your maximum potential. It is playing as well as your body, mind, and preparation allows you to. Playing with peak performance has 5 components:
1: Being fully prepared for competition physically and mentally.
2: Playing with full motivation and effort.
3: Playing with full concentration, with no distractions.
4: Playing with full confidence and trusting your muscle memory (playing loose/relaxed instead of tight/nervous).
5: playing strategically smart and making the right decisions.

Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is linked to peak performance. It is what you need in order to reach peak performance, therefore it deserves its own spot on this list.
Mental toughness is the ability to maintain peak performance through stress (pressure, adversity), discomfort (fatigue, pain), distractions (crowd noise, media), and also success (boredom, complacency).

Mental Exercises
A big part of sport psychology consists of what I call mental exercises. These include meditation, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, self-hypnosis, and goal-setting. These exercises improve skills such as concentration and arousal control which improve performance. Mental exercises are underrated. Many people think of them as unnecessary or boring. However, when they are given the respect they deserve, they can give you a great competitive edge over your competition. I will always defend and promote the use of mental exercises.

I love writing about leadership because it is such an important aspect of sports. Every sport, every team, and every individual requires it for success.
Leadership is the ability to lead, guide, or motivate a group to reach a shared goal. Urban Meyer defines leadership as setting high standards for people, and giving them the tools to reach them.

Training and the other components of sports
I am so obsessed about human growth, improvement, and development, that I like to step outside my lane (sport psychology) and write about training in general and the other components of sports.

Training is about breaking a sport into smaller parts and practicing them so the integrated whole is improved. Your performance is more than just the sum of all your on-court training. It is a sum of every thought/decision you make on and off the court. Training is 24/7. I like to learn and teach about ways to improve your training.

I like to talk about the other components of sports and how they interact with the mental component of sports. The four components of sports are the technical component, fitness component (including nutrition), strategic component, and the mental/emotional component (sport psychology). Experts in these components like to claim that their component is the most important, however, I believe they are all roughly equal. I like to call this focus on all components of sports "holistic training."

There are three factors of athletic development: genetics, freewill, and environment.

Mental Health
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, mental health is a topic I love to talk about. There are more important things in life than athletic success. I want to help teach people how to maintain and improve mental health.
With all the challenges and stresses of sports, more attention needs placed on the mental health of athletes.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog. If you want me to write more about a certain topic, comment below!