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PSY 2446 Sport Psychology

Course Description

Sport Psychology surveys the theory, research, and applications of psychology pertaining to exercise and sports. Presents current topics and issues relevant to sport psychology. (SS)

Course Objectives

This course is designed to introduce you to the field of sport and exercise psychology by providing a broad overview of the major topics in the area.

After completing this course, students will be able to

  • Discuss the psychological factors that influence involvement and performance in sport, exercise, and physical education settings
  • Identify skills and knowledge about sport and exercise psychology that can be applied as a coach, teacher, or exercise leader
  • Compare and contrast psychological theories and research related to sport and exercise behavior
  • Identify and explain the practical application of motivational theories with regard to sports, fitness, and exercise
  • Integrate effective goal setting practices within their own lives
  • Explore the various skills involved in developing emotional and mental control: anxiety & arousal, anger management, concentration, imagery, and confidence
  • Examine and apply to current trends in sports and fitness: the various pitfalls of eating disorders, substance abuse, and addictive behaviors

Week 1

Lecture: Welcome
Lecture: Introduction to Sport Psychology


  • Discuss the historical beginnings of sport psychology
  • Provide definitions
  • Categorize the many sport/exercise psychology orientations and specializations
  • Examine present and future trends
  • Define and understand personality structure
  • Explain the five viewpoints of personality and examine their relationship to sport psychology
  • Examine cognitive strategies within personality and sport psychology
  • Explain the role of the learner in understanding personality within this course
  • Briefly examine the various tools for measurement and research in sport psychology

Week 2

Lecture: Motivation
Lecture: Feedback, Reinforcement, and Intrinsic Motivation


  • Define motivation and its components
  • Describe typical views of motivation and whether they are useful
  • Detail useful guidelines for building motivation
  • Compare and contrast achievement motivation and competitiveness, indicating how they are related
  • Compare and contrast various theories of achievement motivation
  • Explain how achievement motivation develops and use fundamentals of achievement motivation to guide practice
  • Explain how positive and negative feedback influence behavior
  • Explain how to implement behavior modification programs
  • Discuss the different types of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Describe the relationship between intrinsic motivation and external rewards
  • Detail different ways to increase intrinsic motivation
  • Describe how such factors as scholarships, coaching behaviors, competition, and feedback influence intrinsic motivation
  • Describe the flow state and how to achieve it

Week 3

Lecture: Self-Confidence and Goal Setting


  • Define self-confidence, efficacy, and relative components
  • Describe typical views and research relating to efficacy and goal setting
  • Explain goal orientation and resulting impact on performance
  • Explain the relationship of self-confidence and effective goal setting
  • Compare and contrast the benefits and challenges of task/mastery vs. outcome/ego goal orientation

Week 4

Lecture: Arousal, Stress, and Anxiety
Lecture: Controlling Arousal


  • Discuss the nature of stress and anxiety
  • Identify the major sources of anxiety and stress
  • Explain how and why arousal- and anxiety-related emotions affect performance
  • Compare and contrast ways to regulate arousal, stress, and anxiety
  • Explain how to increase self-awareness of arousal states
  • Use somatic, cognitive, and multimodal anxiety reduction techniques
  • Identify coping strategies to deal with competitive stress
  • Describe on-site relaxation tips to reduce anxiety
  • Discuss the matching hypothesis
  • Identify techniques to raise arousal for competition

Week 5

Lecture: Psychological Skills Training (PST)


  • Define psychological skills training and describe the myths surrounding it
  • Identify the knowledge base for psychological skills training
  • Discuss three phases of psychological skills training programs
  • Examine the process of psychological self-regulation
  • Develop a psychological skills training program
  • Explain the problems of implementing a psychological skills training program

Week 6

Lecture: Imagery
Lecture: Concentration


  • Explain what is imagery and how does it work
  • Discuss factors in the effectiveness of imagery
  • Identify various uses of imagery
  • Recognize keys to effective imagery
  • Developing an imagery training program
  • Recognize when to use imagery
  • Identify and describe the various aspects of concentration and their relationship to optimal performance
  • Discuss types of intentional focus and related problems
  • Provide theoretical and practical information regarding Self-Talk
  • Offer tips for improving concentration on site
  • Develop various exercises for improving concentration

Week 7

Lecture: Group/Team Dynamics and Cohesion


  • Discuss how a group becomes a team
  • Explain how to create an effective team climate
  • Explain the concept of social loafing and the conditions under which it occurs
  • Define task and social cohesion
  • Describe the conceptual model of cohesion and its relationship to performance
  • Identify guidelines for building team cohesion

Week 8

Lecture: Addictive and Unhealthy Behaviors
Lecture: Aggression in Sports


  • Define and discuss the prevalence of eating disorders in sport
  • Identify predisposing factors for developing eating disorders
  • Describe how to recognize disordered eating
  • Define and discuss the prevalence of substance abuse in sport
  • Explain why some athletes and exercisers take drugs
  • Discuss how to detect and prevent substance abuse
  • Discuss the concepts of positive and negative addiction to exercise
  • Define aggression
  • Identify the causes of aggression
  • Examine special considerations relative to aggression and sport
  • Explain the aggression-performance relationship
  • Derive implications from research for helping control aggression

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. May 2012