What I Do To Help You Succeed
Sport psychology, thought of as the newest family member within psychology, has been around for many years. The reason many people do not know much about sport and performance psychology is because it is something that is more in the world of sport and not advertised on your local billboard. If you speak with an athlete from a Division I or bigger sized Division II university, they will know what a sport psychologist does and how they can help.
Petrie (2019) described sport psychology very well by saying sport psychology involves the scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport. It is often found that athletes, amateur or professional, will hire a fitness coordinator, a massage therapist, or a skills coach to help them get better at their position. This is all looked at with a positive eye because the athlete is looking to get better at their sport and at their skill. The contrast of that is that athletes, or the public in general, hears the word ‘psychology or psychologist’ and things get negative really quickly.
Sport and performance psychology is based in research and theory development. In the last 30 years, the field has made the transition from laboratory work to field research and implementation. The research and application of research applies to educate coaches, athletes, parents, exercisers, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity. We within the field have the goal to facilitate optimal involvement, performance, and enjoyment in sport and performance.
Athletes are known to be performers because they take on a huge spotlight. If they make a mistake, the spotlight is bigger and brighter. In the world of performance, we think about singers, actors, musicians, etc. only when it is award time. We hear the musician sing their lyrics on the radio and this is how we judge them or their performance. There is no constant media scrutiny. There is no camera with millions of people watching their every concert. And there is no television cable channel dedicated solely to the musical performances like we see with ESPN, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. Even though there are no cameras fixed on the concerts day in and day out, the musicians still have pressure to overcome. Just as in sport, if there's an athlete that is absurdly good, all other players in this position are judged by the stand-outs performance. The musician, actor, doctor, or salesperson all face this same issue. You may be asking, how is this possible? There are millions watching the sport while hundreds or even thousands are watching a Netflix series. In either scenario, the actor must live up to the expectation of the others in their field. This is because it is about performance. Jennifer Aniston’s role on Friends laid the groundwork for future roles. As well, because she is phenomenal in Friends, the next actress has to be better than phenomenal in their role.
What does this have to do with Clutch Play Performance Psychology? I work with all performers. This is the next American Idol hopeful, the next movie star, musician, or athlete. I can help all performers keep their emotions under control, feet on the ground, and eye on the prize. Petrie (2019) said researchers have recommended that any definition of sport psychology should focus on what sport psychologists are trying to help athletes accomplish, that is, perform. With this perspective, performance is central to any definition, and sport is just one of many different domains in which someone like myself might apply their knowledge and skills. Performance psychology is the study and application of psychological principles of human performance to help performers consistently perform in the upper range of their capabilities and enjoy the performance process. Performance psychology practitioners 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, assessment, and managing 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.
Portenga et al. (2017) sums up the defining capacity of performance psychology by saying that the goal of performance psychology is to help people learn how to become the best they are capable of becoming in their performance endeavors. It has been noted that performance psychology should include more than teaching the standard mental skills such as goal setting, relaxation, and imagery. Helping performers develop an effective philosophy of performance and competitive mindset and minimize performance distractions may require more psychologically-based interventions related to personality, identity, and core values. The core feature of performance psychology is its focus on helping people to be able to more consistently perform in the upper range of their abilities. Anything psychological that promotes high performance or impairs consistent performance falls under the umbrella of performance psychology. Performance psychology is defined by the end goal, not by what intervention is used.
Petrie, T. A. (2019). Education and credentialing in sport psychology: Who are we and what do we do? In M. H. Anshel, T. A. Petrie, & J. A. Steinfeldt (Eds.), APA handbook of sport and exercise psychology, volume 1: Sport psychology., Vol. 1. (pp. 801–819). American Psychological Association. https://doi-org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1037/0000123-040.
Portenga, S. T., Aoyagi, M. W., & Cohen, A. B. (2017). Helping to build a profession: A working definition of sport and performance psychology. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 8(1), 47–59.