This book offers a student-friendly introduction to the discipline of sport psychology. All the key psychological issues in sport are explored and illustrated with sporting examples. Throughout, difficult questions are raised: are athletes born or made? Docs participating in sport affect personality? What impact do cultural beliefs have on personal sporting development? These complex issues are weighed up to provide a detailed overview of the topic. Matt Jarvis has substantially revised and expanded his original coverage of the subject from his highly successful book Sport Psychology (published by Routledge in 1999).
Here he provides a succinct but comprehensive account of major theory and research in sport psychology, whilst maintaining the readable style and student-centred approach which made the previous book so successful.
Key issues covered include:
• personality and sport
• attitudes to sport
• aggression in sport
• the social factors affecting performance
• arousal and anxiety
• motivation and skill acquisition.
There is an emphasis not merely on learning about sport psychology, but also on developing critical and creative thinking. In addition, the book includes chapters on conducting research and writing essays in sport psychology, as well as reflective exercises throughout the text.
Written by a successful author who has experience of teaching at sixth form and undergraduate level, this book will be useful to undergraduates in sport science and leisure management, those studying for the BAQTS and PGCE in physical education, and those studying А-level psychology or sports studies.
Matt Jarvis teaches psychology at Totton College and is Visiting Lecturer at Southampton University.
What is sport psychology?
Because there are many ways in which we can apply psychology to sport and, given the wide range of activities that different cultures regard as sport, it is helpful to adopt quite a broad definition of sport psychology. In 1996, the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) produced such a broad definition, which, slightly simplified, reads, ‘Sport psychology is the study of the psychological basis, processes and effects of sport.’ This of course begs the questions, what is sport and what is psychology?
Although many athletes would insist that sport necessarily includes an element of competition, the term ‘sport’ is used, both in the FEPSAC definition of sport psychology, and throughout this book, in the broadest sense, including any physical activity for the purposes of competition, recreation, education or health. Psychology is often defined as ‘the science of mind and behaviour’ (Gross, 2005). Later in this chapter, we can take a brief overview of psychology and begin to learn how to think critically and creatively about psychological theory and research.
Sport psychology (or sports psychology, as some prefer) is thus a broad church. Many American sport psychologists draw a sharp distinction between academic sport psychology, which focuses on all the factors affecting participation and performance in sport, and applied sport psychology, which focuses purely on applying psychology to enhance athletic performance (e.g. Cox, 2001). At the lime of writing, European writers generally do not subscribe to this rather rigid distinction (Kremcr & Sc ully, 1994), and this book crosses freely between academic and applied sport psychology. The topics covered here, personality, attitudes, aggression, stress and anxiety, group dynamics, motivation and skill acquisition, should be both of academic interest and applicable to working with athletes and, in some cases, spectators.
A brief history of sport psychology
Sport psychology has existed in some form for almost as long as psychology itself. The first recorded study in sport psychology took place at the close of the nineteenth century. Norman Triplett (1898) performed what is often cited as the first experiment in social psychology as well as the first in sport psychology. Triplett investigated the phenomenon of social facilitation, in which performance is affected by the presence of others (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 6). He demonstrated that cyclists tended to cycle faster when racing against other cyclists than they did alone. Triplett did not pursue further sport-related research, however, and it was not until the 1920s that the discipline of sport psychology was formally established.
In 1925, Coleman Griffith set up the Athletic Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Griffith, who also put sport psychology on the map by establishing a university course, publishing two major textbooks and acting as a consultant to professional sports teams, is often called the ‘father of sport psychology’. The early path of sport psychology did not run smoothly, however, and the Athletic Research Laboratory closed in 1932 due to lack of funds.
Between the 1930s and the 1960s (at least in the Western world), there was little activity in the field of sport psychology. In the Soviet Union, sport psychology emerged as a discipline shortly after the Second World War. It is of course difficult to obtain accurate information about the practice of Soviet psychology during the Cold War, but it is commonly believed that, during the 1960 Melbourne Olympics, Eastern European teams employed sport psychologists (Kremcr & Scully, 1994). Certainly, we know that, by the early 1970s, East German and Soviet teams were routinely employing sport psychologists to enhance athletic performance in international events.
Sport psychology reappeared in the USA in the 1960s, and was taken up in Britain and the rest of Europe a few years later. The area has since expanded worldwide to become one of the fastest growing new academic disciplines. Interestingly, until very recently, the study of sport psychology was firmly located in the domain of sport sciences as opposed to within psychology. This may be changing, however. In 1986, the American Psychological Association officially recognised sport psychology as a branch of psychology, and in 1993 the British Psychological Society formed a Sport and Exercise Psychology Section, which has now become a full division of the society.
2. Personality characteristics and sporting behaviour
3. Personality development and sport
4. Attitudes to sport
5. Aggression and sport
6. Social factors in sporting performance
7. Arousal, anxiety and sporting performance
8. Motivation and sport
9. Skill acquisition and expertise
10. Research methods in sport psychology
11. Writing essays in sport psychology