The role of psychology in sport

Sports performance is determined by a combination of physiological factors, technical skill, tactical insight and state of mind. All four factors are critical to peak performance. One could argue however that the last of these is the executive function, as it is the mind which determines whether or not what you have trained in over the past few years, is brought out on the day – at that moment when it matters most.

Yet it is this aspect of sports performance which has traditionally been paid the least attention in preparation for competition. Hence, in a world where many athletes are physically, technically and tactically increasingly similar, it is the mind which offers perhaps the greatest scope for a competitive advantage.

The role of mind has become even more important with the rapidly increasing commercialization of sport, which has presented new pressures for athletes across many levels and ages. Fortunately, like the other three factors, the mind can be improved through training. The more the mental skills are learned and practiced, the better and the more consistent the performances become. There is little doubt that in future, proper mental preparation will become as routinely integrated into training and competition as the other factors already are.