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A Sports Psychologist Could Improve Your Game


In 1920, Carl Diem founded the world’s first sports psychology laboratory in Berlin, Germany. Five years later in Leningrad at the Institute of Physical Culture, A. Z. Puni opened a sport psychology laboratory. In 1925, Cloman Griffith established the first North American sports psychologist laboratory at the University of Illinois. In 1918, Griffith began his research into sport performance affected by psychological factors, offered his first sports psychologist course in 1923. He was interested in how factors such as personality, muscular relaxation and tension, mental awareness, and reaction time affected an athletic performance. In 1932, Griffith’s laboratory closed due to the Great Depression. In North American, between 1932 when Griffith’s laboratory closed and the 1960’s, very little sport psychology research took place. Suddenly many institutions physical education departments offered sport psychology courses and graduate programs also quickly appeared. Scholarly journals and the formation of academic societies devoted to sports psychologist professionals was the most significant growth stimulus. In 1966 in Chicago, Illinois a sports psychologist group met and formed the North American Society of Sport Psychology and Physical Activity. Established in 1970, the International Journal of Sport Psychology was the first sports psychologist scholarly journal.

Sports psychology, a psychology specialization, is the scientific study of both the mental and psychological factors that affect a person’s performance in exercise, physical activity and sports and then use the results to try to enhance a team or individuals performance. They are always looking for ways to recognize how involvement or participation in physical activity or sport exercise enhances development. A sports psychologist addresses ways to increase an athlete’s performance by minimizing poor performance or injuries psychological effects and by managing emotions. A multi-disciplinary field, sports psychology spans medicine, sport science, and psychology fields. A sports psychologist works on teaching skills such as concentration, visualization, goal setting, control and awareness, self-talk, and relaxation and then use methods such as periodization, attribution training, and rituals. The theories and principles of sports psychology can apply to any performance tasks or human movement such as motor skills, public speaking, dancing on stage, and playing the drums.
Many experts in sports psychology believe that students wanting to be a sports psychologist should take training in counseling and kinesiology, which is the scientific study of physiology, anatomy, and body movement mechanics. Kinesiology encompasses the philosophy of sport; history; human anatomy; exercise sociology and psychology; biomechanics; and physiology. A sports psychologist encourages athletes and comes up with strategies and motivational techniques such as mental imagery, to cope with their problems.