Introduction to Sport Psychology Definitions of psychology:
1. The science that deals with mental processes and behaviour.
2. The emotional and behavioural characteristics of an individual, a group, or an activity.
There are three components to any sporting performance. These are: ability or skill level; physical preparation or fitness; and psychological readiness or mental toughness. At high levels of competition (such as international), all competitors will be very talented and in top physical condition, so often, the only difference between athletes is psychological differences.
The development of physical skills and fitness requires a systematic approach. A more efficient golf swing does not just materialise, strength gains do not simply happen. Top class athletes spend endless hours on relentless practice and physical toil in the justifiable belief that sports performance will be improved.
Athletes often accept concentration lapses, or loss of motivation, or choking at crucial times, though they would not accept poor fitness levels or poor technique. Many believe there is no excuse for fitness or technique lapses, but psychological factors are beyond their control. This is very wrong; psychological preparation for sport is not only possible, it is relatively easy to achieve with suitable guidance and sufficient dedication. Adapted from Terry (1989)
Gill, D.L. (1986). Psychological Dynamics of Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Terry, P.C. (1989) The Winning Mind. Wellingborough, England: Thornsons.