Sport psychology is a recently established branch in the field of psychology. Sport psychology hopes to address human behavior and how mental processes work during exercise and sports competition. Since this field is still fairly new there is plenty of research that needs to be conducted.
Sport psychology is frequently described as a young specialization. Its existence, with potential for research as well as practical applications, is becoming increasingly realized by young and enthusiastic would-be sport psychologists worldwide. In many ways, the foundation, depth, and scope of sport psychology are in the process of being established.
Clearly, sport psychology is currently in early adolescence, transitioning from primarily a research-based orientation to a more science practice orientation. The possibility for advancement and continued development is extremely high as scholars, educators, and practitioners discuss and debate many fundamental issues. These issues include establishing a consensus on (1) the definition of sport psychology as an area of study and practice, (2) who can practice sport psychology, (3) how aspiring professionals should be educated and trained, (4) who can properly train the next generation of practicing sport psychologists, and (5) where significant sources of funding will be found to support both basic and applied sport psychology research.
Sport psychology is still a new branch of psychology. Since it is so new there is still discussion on defining a variety of aspects of the field, such as who is qualified to teach it and where funding will come from. This is important to understand because it should be noted that a great deal of research is still required to answer some of these questions.
Psychology is the study of the nature and function of the mind, with particular emphasis placed on the relationship between thought and physical action. Psychology has become increasingly important in sports, particularly with respect to the improvement and maintenance of athletic performance. Sport psychology is an aspect of sport training and preparation; this science is primarily directed at assisting individual athletes and teams maintain an optimal balance between mind and body, both in terms of the physical execution of the technical aspects of the sport and the related functions of emotion and mood.
In 1938, Griffith was hired by the Chicago Cubs baseball club to provide advise as to the psychological factors at play in the structure and performance of the team. Griffith was the first psychologist ever retained by a professional sports team for this purpose; Griffith worked with the Cubs for three seasons, with few of his recommendations implemented by the team management.
Coleman Griffith working for the Chicago Cubs is a breakthrough in the history of sport psychology. Having a job for a professional team proved that there was interest and recognition for the field of sport psychology. Even though much of what he suggested to implement for the Cubs was ignored he still was able to spark general interest for the type of research he conducted.
The recognition of sports psychology as a distinct branch of the study of human psychology is a relatively recent development. The modern accepted definition of sports psychcology is the study of the mental and emotional factors that both influence and are themselves influenced by exercise and sports participation. In competitive sports, psychologists work with both coaches and athletes to develop appropriate methods to assist with the motivation and improved performance of the athlete.
It is not only until recently that sport psychology has been recognized as a legitimate section of psychology. Sport psychology is defined similar as psychology is with the factors pertaining specficailly to exercise and sports. It should be understood that this field of psychology works with not just athletes, but also with coaches, trainers, and parents.
The first sport and social psychology experiment was conducted by Norman Triplett (1898). He was a bicycling enthusiast who noticed that cyclists competing alone rode more slowly than did cyclists riding against a pacer or against other athletes.
Sport psychology is playing a more influential and respected role than ever before in the pursuit of excellence in sport. Athletes are seeking mental training and counseling on a daily basis. Sport psychologists are in high demand at Olympic Training Centers.
Children, regardless of age or competitive level, can benefit from sports psychology, as can parents, coaches, administrators, and officials. Sport psychology covers a range of sport and movement behaviors and can help anyone to develop selfawareness and personal growth through physical activity (Smith & Bar Eli, 2007).
No amount of sport psychology training can compensate for incorrect sport technique, inadequate physical conditioning, or poor or inadequate practice time. Some mental-training benefits can be seen immediately, but the majority of mental techniques take practice and time to develop, much like the development of physical skills.
Sport Psychology is the scientific study of people and their behavior in sport, and it includes the practical application of that knowledge in the field. Sport psychologists typically identify the relation between psychological factors and athletic performance as reciprocal in nature. That is, sport performance can affect psychological processes, and psychological processes can affect sport performance, which allows for more exciting and unique ways to study human behavior.