Chat with us, powered by LiveChat What is something that was surprising to you about the history of sports psychology? Explain why. Parameters Identify one major point from the textbook that was a new learning point for | Wridemy

What is something that was surprising to you about the history of sports psychology? Explain why. Parameters Identify one major point from the textbook that was a new learning point for

What is something that was surprising to you about the history of sports psychology? Explain why. Parameters Identify one major point from the textbook that was a new learning point for

Initial Post

Your initial post should read approximately 250 to 350 words in length and include at least one citation from the bibliography of your textbook chapter, with the accompanying reference in APA format. To receive the maximum points, your post should include a reference from the textbook, an article of your choosing, and one of this week’s ancillary readings.

Prompt

What is something that was surprising to you about the history of sports psychology? Explain why.

Parameters

  • Identify one major point from the textbook that was a new learning point for you
  • Retrieve one article/citation from the chapter bibliography that was referenced to make this point 
  • Apply what you learned from reading this additional article
  • Address how reading this additional article built upon this major point from the text
  • Discuss contradictory information from the article to the text’s main point
  • Follow APA guidelines

Readings

Chapter 1: Sport Psychology: Past, Present, Future  

Williams, J. M., & Krane, V. (Eds.). (2021). Applied sports psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Additional Readings

Defining the Practice of Sport and Performance Psychology

Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) of the American Psychological Association Defining the Practice of Sport and Performance Psychology.

Quiet Competence: Writing Women into the History of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Krane, V., & Whaley, D. (2010). Quiet Competence: Writing Women Into the History of Sport and Exercise Psychology. The Sport Psychologist 18, 349-372.

Running head: DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 1

Defining the Practice of Sport and Performance Psychology

Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) of the American Psychological Association

Author Note.

This document was drafted by members of the APA Division 47 Practice

Committee including, Steven T. Portenga. Ph.D. (APA Division 47 Practice Committee

Chair, University of Denver), Mark W. Aoyagi, Ph.D. (APA Division 47 Science

Committee Chair, University of Denver), Gloria Balague, Ph.D. (APA Division 47

President-Elect, University of Illinois, Chicago), Alex Cohen, Ph.D. (Athens, GA), and

Bob Harmison, Ph.D. (James Madison University). The Practice Committee would like to

thank Charlie Brown, Kate Hays, Sean McCann, and Rick McGuire for their thoughtful

comments in revising this document.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Steven T.

Portenga, Division of Athletics & Recreation, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80209.

E-mail: [email protected]

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 2

Abstract

Twenty-five years after the formation of both the Association for the Advancement of

Applied Sport Psychology and Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) of the

American Psychology Association, the question of who may practice as a sport

psychologist persists. Some confusion still exists because the field has not fully answered

the question “What does the practice of sport psychology entail?” Too often sport

psychology is defined by whom we work with, not by the unique aspects of what we do.

To provide clarity for the profession, the authors offer a definition of applied sport

psychology conceptualized as a sub-field of performance psychology. The constructs of

performance and performance issues are also defined. The distinction between

performance enhancement and performance restoration is highlighted. Performance

psychology is contrasted with exercise and health psychology, clinical and counseling

psychology, positive psychology, and consulting psychology. Lastly, the implications of

this definition for education and practice are shared.

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 3

Defining the Practice of Sport and Performance Psychology

As part of his Presidential Address at the first Association for the Advancement of

Applied Sport Psychology1 (AAASP) conference, Dr. John Silva (1986) stated: “The

questions confronting the field of sport psychology include: Who is a sport

psychologist?” This question persists today, more than 25 years later! Confusion still

exists regarding who is a sport psychologist (or sport psychology consultant, mental

coach, mental skills trainer, etc.) because the field has not fully answered the question

“What is sport psychology?” More particularly, sport psychology professional

organizations have not answered the question “What does the practice of sport

psychology entail?” Most of the “standard” definitions are very broad, vague, and more

focused on what sport psychologists research, instead of what they do. While these

definitions may be appropriate for the discipline of sport psychology, they are

impractical, less relevant, and potentially misleading when applied to the practice and

profession of sport psychology.

The definition from the American Psychological Association’s (APA, 2009)

Division 47 (Exercise & Sport Psychology) website states: “Exercise and sport

psychology is the scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated with

participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other types of physical activity”

(What is Exercise and Sport Psychology?, para. 1). Many of the regularly used textbooks

define sport psychology by stating that it is “the study of …” without defining the

profession of sport psychology as well (e.g., Cox 2007). The European Federation of

Sport Psychology (1996) defines sport psychology as:

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 4

Sport psychology is concerned with the psychological foundations, processes, and

consequences of the psychological regulation of sport-related activities of one or

several persons acting as the subject(s) of the activity. The focus may be on the

behaviour or on different psychological dimensions of human behaviour (i.e.,

affective, cognitive, motivational, or sensorimotor dimensions) (p. 221).

They also state that they use sport as an umbrella term to include exercise, sport, and

physical activity pursuits. Note that these definitions limit sport psychology to research,

not practice, and confuse things conceptually by including exercise psychology.

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s (AASP, 2010) definition appears

to address the practice issue:

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 (About Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology, para. 1).

The inclusion of exercise psychology within this definition blurs some important

distinctions.

Although all these definitions seem to delimit the components of sport

psychology, the definitions end up implying: take everything in the practice of general

psychology and relate it to people who move. These definitions focus more on the

population than on theories, issues, and interventions. This makes it too easy for people

to believe that doing anything related to the practice of psychology with an athlete is

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 5

sport psychology. Too many people (including licensed psychologists with little to no

training in sport psychology) choose to define sport psychology based solely on working

with an athletic population. However, as Aoyagi and Portenga (2010) recently observed:

One issue that appears to contribute to misunderstandings regarding the scope of

[sport psychology] has to do with the demographics of the clientele. Oftentimes,

people (both the public clientele and professional practitioners) will define any

psychological work with an athlete as sport psychology. This is problematic

because defining the field based on who the clientele is disregards the unique

interventions, techniques, and professional literature that make sport psychology a

distinct field requiring specific training and competency (p. 254).

It seems that there are really multiple, yet interrelated, labels in this discussion. The

umbrella term sport psychology is primarily defined in relation to the academic discipline

and includes a wide range of topics. Many professionals research and teach sport

psychology but do not “do” sport psychology (at least not as a professional identity). For

those who focus professionally on “doing,” the term Applied Sport Psychology was

introduced. Initially this term was specific to the practice of sport psychology with

athletes and coaches. However, many people today use sport psychology and applied

sport psychology interchangeably. A clearer definition of applied sport psychology will

ensure consumers receive competent, effective services. Thus, this paper will focus on

clarifying what the practice of sport psychology (applied sport psychology) involves.

Without a clear definition of the profession of sport psychology, there cannot be a

clear training model for the profession. Indeed, the field has been subjected to discontent,

bickering, and turf wars over the years between practitioners with degrees in kinesiology

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 6

or exercise and sport science (ESS) and those with degrees in psychology. Yet, if every

practitioner were appropriately trained to have competency in both sport science and

psychology (using these phrases is technically incorrect as will be addressed later) then

sport psychology would be a unified field, able to counter misperceptions and

appropriately educate those who access our services.

How did we get to this point of conceptual and definitional elusiveness? A brief

exploration of the history of the field serves not only to answer this question, but also

provides the basis for a more precise, informative, and ultimately useful definition of

what practitioners do.

The Origins of Sport andPerformance Psychology

Coleman Griffith is often credited as the first person to apply psychological

principles systematically to improve sport performance, when he was hired by the

Chicago Cubs in 1938 (Cox, 2007). His primary focus was psychomotor skills, motor

learning and the connection between personality variables and physical performance.

Although Griffith was trained as a psychologist, his work did not attract the interest of his

colleagues in psychology; ultimately, the academic home of sport psychology shifted into

physical education (now Kinesiology or Exercise & Sport Science) departments. As Cox

(2007) shares, “most of the research related to sport psychology was conducted within a

laboratory setting and was referred to as motor learning research” (p. 6). During the

“formative years” from the 1950s to the 1980s, sport psychology started to be its own

discipline, separate from exercise physiology, motor learning, and motor control.

At this point in history, sport psychology was strongly connected to performance,

particularly physical performance. Indeed, its early members could have just as easily

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 7

(and perhaps more accurately) labeled the field performance psychology. Somewhere

along the way, two major shifts happened that have left the field in a state of confusion.

The first was the inclusion of exercise in the title of the discipline. Many professional

organizations began referring to sport and exercise psychology, which implicitly and

explicitly connected them and perhaps even suggested they were the same profession. As

seen above, attempts at defining exercise psychology and sport psychology concurrently

have resulted in definitions that end up being both broad and vague.

The second issue has been the growing interest in sport psychology by those with

primary training in the practice of clinical or counseling psychology. The first book

examining sport from a psychological standpoint was Ogilvie and Tutko’s (1966)

Problem Athletes and How to Handle Them. The initial forays into the sport world by

psychologists were, understandably, limited to what the field of psychology was focused

upon at that time: psychopathology. These psychologists did not bring their psychological

knowledge to the developing theories of performance, but rather stuck to their theories of

personality. This trend continues today as psychologists with training in psychotherapy

focused on psychopathology and addressing general life issues often refer to their

treatment of athletes as “sport psychology.” These psychologists fall prey to the old

adage “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Because they do not have the appropriate

training in sport psychology and performance principles, despite being well-intentioned,

they end up labeling therapy with someone who is an athlete as sport psychology. The

end result is that athletes, teams, and coaches who are seeking sport psychology services

to improve their performances are commonly disappointed when they discover the “sport

psychologist” they hired is only proficient in mental health therapy and not in

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 8

understanding performance. These misunderstandings on both the practitioner’s and the

client’s parts are the result of the ongoing lack of clarity regarding what sport psychology

is. Unfortunately, the end result is often (and understandably) coaches and athletes giving

up on sport psychology because they can see that the profession lacks a consistent

identity.

APA approved a proficiency in sport psychology, recognizing it as a practice field

within psychology. Although knowledge requirements are suggested within the

proficiency, currently there is no mechanism for practitioners to determine whether they

are sufficiently skilled in the practice. To push the training and practice of future sport

psychologists forward, the field needs a clear definition of sport psychology, along with

objectively verifiable competencies. Thus, we propose the definition that follows to allow

better conceptual clarity in identifying the competencies for practice in this field.

Definitions: Performance Psychology and Sport Psychology

From the history of the field it is evident that the core application of sport

psychology has been focused on performance excellence. As mentioned above, the

discipline could have been referred to as performance psychology. Recently, Hays (2006)

described performance psychology as helping people learn how to perform better and

more consistently in endeavors where excellence counts. Her definition accurately

characterizes the context of athletics and sport psychology. In this sense, sport

psychology is really a domain within performance psychology; it is the study of

performance psychology principles and interventions in the context of competitive

athletics (rather than other types of performance). We believe conceptual and

professional confusion can begin to be alleviated by first precisely defining performance

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 9

psychology. Building on Hays’ description, we propose the following definition of

performance psychology:

Performance psychology is the study and application of psychological principles of

human performance to help people consistently perform in the upper range of their

capabilities and more thoroughly enjoy the performance process. Performance

psychologists are uniquely trained and specialized to engage in a broad range of

activities, including the identification, development, and execution of the mental and

emotional knowledge, skills, and abilities required for excellence in performance

domains; the understanding, diagnosing, and preventing of the psychological,

cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and psychophysiological inhibitors of consistent,

excellent performance; and the improvement of performance environments to

facilitate more efficient development, consistent execution, and positive experiences

in performers.

Based on the above definition of performance psychology, and considering

applied sport psychology to be a sub-focus of performance psychology, applied sport

psychology can be defined as followed:

Applied sport psychology is the study and application of psychological principles

of human performance in helping athletes consistently perform in the upper range

of their capabilities and more thoroughly enjoy the sport performance process.

Applied sport psychologists are uniquely trained and specialized to engage in a

broad range of activities including the identification, development, and execution

of the mental and emotional knowledge, skills, and abilities required for

excellence in athletic domains; the understanding, diagnosing, and preventing of

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 10

the psychological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and psychophysiological

inhibitors of consistent, excellent performance; and the improvement of athletic

contexts to facilitate more efficient development, consistent execution, and

positive experiences in athletes.

It is important to note that we focus here on the practice of sport and performance

psychology. This definition (and paper) by no means minimizes other aspects of the

larger field of sport psychology, including such areas as the research and promotion of

healthy sport participation or use of sport for personal, social, and moral development.

Explaining the Definition

In order to more thoroughly understand this definition and to have practitioners

share a consistent understanding, a few other definitions are necessary.

Definition of Performance

Unfortunately no standard definition completely fits what we mean when talking

about performance. Performance can be thought of as a noun or a verb. As a noun, it

describes a discrete event where a performer (or performers) showcases a specific set of

developed knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Performance can also be a verb, which

then describes the process of carrying out a plan of action for the execution of KSAs

during a performance event. Thus, performance means using knowledge, skills, or

abilities, as distinguished from merely possessing them. As Aoyagi and Portenga (2010)

state, “successful performance requires both the development and mastery of KSAs and

the capability to consistently and reliably deliver (i.e., perform) KSAs at the time of

performance” (p. 254).

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 11

Our definition includes the following characteristics. Performance entails the

development of context-specific knowledge, skills, and abilities over time and then the

recollection and use of these KSAs during a discrete performance event. Performance

entails working towards some accomplishment, which is usually measured against some

standard of success. There is an expectation for how the KSAs are put into action; thus

the execution of the KSAs is evaluated by the performer and others.

Performance involves an investment over time. This investment is normally

elaborate and very often public. Performers rarely develop the appropriate KSAs or

execute them at performance events in isolation. They usually have teachers or coaches,

along with teammates, co-performers, and audiences.

This definition of performance should be distinguished from the typical use of the

word in a business context. There it often refers to the financial status of the unit or

organization. It may also be connected to productivity. Our use limits the term to very

specific situations that the performer has prepared for and has one (or limited)

opportunity to execute what they have prepared. Examples include: athletic competition,

performance of a play, a military unit following a rehearsed plan, firefighters executing a

rehearsed protocol, or salespeople delivering a detailed pitch they practiced beforehand.

Conceptualizing Performance Issues

Performance issues are those that prevent someone’s performance from reaching

their desired standard of success. These issues could impair someone’s development of

the KSAs necessary in their performance domain. Performance issues may also interfere

with someone’s ability to fully execute the KSAs they have developed. Thus,

performance issues can be classified into two categories: those that interfere with

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 12

development of the necessary KSAs and those that interfere with the execution of the

requisite KSAs. Examples of issues that interfere with development include performers’

time investment, development plan, recovery plan, and types of standards they choose to

work towards. Examples of issues that interfere with execution include problems with the

execution plan, not delivering developed KSAs, and not meeting the necessary standard

of success.

Performance issues should be conceptualized as distinct from mental health issues

(such as counseling, clinical, or personality based issues; see Figure 1). Certainly, as

people first, it is possible that performers may find themselves struggling with mental

health issues. The presence of a mental health issue or a performance issue does not

necessarily indicate the presence or absence of the other; these are two separate

categorizations. Various theories of optimal human performance may differ in the extent

to which they propose an interaction between these issues and differ in the nature of the

planned interventions required to enhance consistent performance (Aoyagi,

Poczwardowski, Portenga, Shapiro, & Haberl, 2010).

Performance enhancement versus performance restoration. Many sport

psychologists find themselves addressing general life issues with the athletes with whom

they work. Despite the fact that the athlete’s performance might be suffering as a result of

these issues, they cannot be categorized as performance issues. They may influence the

performance process, but act secondary to the mechanisms listed above. Sometimes sport

psychologists do need to ameliorate a mental health issue to be able to teach performance

psychology principles. This serves merely to remove obstacles to improved performance,

and is not directly involved in the improvement of developing or executing KSAs. Many

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 13

psychologists who work with performers note that performance can increase after

working only with mental health issues. Ameliorating these life issues results in

performance restoration, not performance enhancement (see Figure 2).

Performance enhancement entails helping a performer improve their capability to

perform up to their potential by helping them develop the mindset and mental/emotional

skills to improve their KSAs or to better execute their KSAs. Performance restoration

entails helping a performer remove barriers to allow them to return to performing at an

already established level. Psychologists engaging in performance restoration do not help

the performer directly improve their KSAs or help the performer learn how to better

deliver their KSAs during a performance. They simply help the performer get back to a

previous level of performing. Performance may increase following amelioration of

mental health issues, but only back to baseline. Although therapy with a performer may

have significant life benefits (maybe even in the performance domain) it is not

performance psychology.

How Does Sport Fit Into Performance?

Very clearly, the principles of applied sport psychology are applicable to other

performance contexts. Currently the largest employer of people with applied sport

psychology training is the United States Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness –

Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program. Many sport psychology

professionals have written about working with other types of performers (e.g., Hays,

2002, 2006, 2009; Jones, 2002; Taylor & Taylor, 1995). The general idea of referring to

the discipline and profession as performance psychology has intuitive appeal for

experienced practitioners. Within the field of performance psychology, practitioners

DEFINING APPLIED SPORT & PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY 14

would still need to have specialty knowledge for each domain within which they choose

to work (e.g., athletics, performing arts, medicine, military, high risk occupations). For

example, the sport context is a unique performance environment that requires specialized

training beyond general performance principles. This is due to the unique culture of sport

and the need to understand psychophysiology, motor learning, and motor control if one

intends ultimately to improve physical performance through mental or emotional means.

Not all performance psychologists would be competent to work in the sporting arena. The

same logic in regard to domain-specific knowledge applies to every other aspect of

performance psychology (e.g., working with surgeons); in this article, we are focusing

specifically on sport.

A More Thorough Understanding of the Practice of Performance Psychology

Performance psychology is designed to help people learn how to become the best

they are capable of becoming in their performance endeavors. It is about helping people

reach their potential rather than about ameliorating mental health issues. Traditional

applied sport psychology is simply the application of performance psychology principles

to performers in the sport environment.

The typical goals of performance psychology work are the development of

adaptive philosophies of performance, mindsets, emotional regulation, and mental skills

(Aoyagi & Portenga, 2010; Balague, 1995; Ogilvie & Henschen, 1995; Orlick, 1986;

Ravizza, 2001; Vernacchia, McGuire, & Cook, 19

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