What Is Exercise Psychology and Sport Psychology?

Exercise psychology and sport psychology involve the scientific study of the psychological factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport, exercise and other types of physical activity. Sport psychologists are interested in two main areas: (a) helping athletes use psychological principles to achieve optimal mental health and to improve performance (performance enhancement) and (b) understanding how participation in sport, exercise and physical activity affects an individual's psychological development, health and well-being throughout the lifespan.

Defining the Practice of Sport Psychology

The practice committee of Division 47 recently completed a paper (PDF, 86KB) that more thoroughly defines the practice of sport psychology. This paper is intended to be a starting point for further developments regarding the training and certification of future practitioners.

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 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.