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Sports Psychology

Course CodeBPS106
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Sports Psychology by distance learning

Learn more about using psychology to improve coaching and sporting performance

Sports psychologists provide two major types of services:

    • Counselling – in areas that affect the athlete.
    • Strategies that enhance performance.

    This course will help you to -

    • Develop your skills and application of psychological principles for use in sports.
    • Learn about such things as psychological traits common to successful athletes, ways to maintain and increase motivation, leadership, aggression and team dynamics.
    In professional or competitive sport, this study is important because:
    • A person’s psychology or state of mind can have a significant effect upon their sporting performance.
    • The selection of competitors for elite sport is influenced by an assessment of their individual psychology, as well as other factors such as recent performance and fitness.

    Lesson Structure

    There are 8 lessons in this course:

    1. Introduction
      • Performance Psychology, Exercise Psychology, Environmental Influences, Aspects of Sports Psychology, Applying Sports Psychology.
    2. Psychological Traits of Successful Athletes
      • Personality Inventory, Cognitive Techniques.
      • State of Mind.
    3. Anxiety & Arousal
      • Anxiety, Physiology of Anxiety, Psychology of Anxiety, Arousal, How to Maximise Psychological State, Focusing (or Centering).
    4. Motivation
      • Motivation is the internal impulse that causes increasingly energetic action in a particular direction. Basic Principles, Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation Factors Affecting Motivation, Movitation for fun, Slimming for fun.
    5. Aggression
      • Mental Rehearsal, Error Parking, Using Self Consciousness, Word Association, Anger, Conflict,Measuring Aggression, Simulated Practice, e-Event Procedure, Reliving Success, Positive, Conflict Handling Techniques.
    6. Leadership & Coaching
      • A Coach’s Role, Getting Attention, Questioning, Punishment.
    7. Team Dynamics
      • Group cohesion,Forming, Storming,Norming,Performing, Traits of an Effective Team,
      • Suitable membership,Appropriate Leadership, Commitment to the Team, Concern for Achieving, Effective Work Methods, Well Organised Team Procedures, Ability To Take Criticism, Creative Strength, Positive Relationships, Positive Environment.
    8. Special Groups
      • Stress, Post Game/Season Evaluation, Gender Differences, Elite Female Athletes, Special Considerations with Female Athletes, Disabled Persons. Children, Readiness, Dropping out.

    Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


    • Describe the nature and scope of Sports Psychology
    • Identify psychological traits found in successful athletes.
    • Explain effects of state of mind on athletic performance.
    • Recommend ways of maintaining or increasing motivation in an athlete.
    • Differentiate between positive and negative application of aggressive emotions in sport.
    • Discuss the role of leadership in sports coaching.
    • Explain the impact on performance of psychological interactions within a sporting team.
    • Describe variations in the sports psychology of different demographic groups.

    Discover How the Mind Can Affect Physical Performance

    Physical ability and strength are essential to achieving athletic success, but so is psychology. A capable athlete can never reach their potential if they lack motivation, or suffer from some type of psychological disorder.

    Factors Affecting Motivation

    The level of motivation in an athlete can fluctuate. Self-esteem will determine self confidence, and that in turn impacts upon motivation. When an athlete has a clearly defined aim, motivation is likely to be higher. When an athlete is unsure of why they are training (e.g. if they are just “generally” trying to improve – but no competitions are planned for some time) their motivation diminishes. Prior experience will also strongly affect motivation… if they have experienced success before then motivation is higher …if they have experienced failure before, motivation is usually lower.

    Fatigue, injury or illness can cause motivation to diminish. Poor environmental conditions (e.g. cold, rain, wind etc.) can cause diminished motivation. Lack of positive feedback can also cause motivation to diminish. Competing at a lower level can diminish motivation – a professional player will find motivation difficult when playing at an amateur level. Peer group influences can have a strong effect (positive or negative) on motivation – particularly for younger athletes who are more impressionable.

    Self Belief and Self Talk

    Athletes often face the challenge of how to improve their performance.  They may experience frustration if they have similar physical abilities to their opponent, but they do not win.  In these cases, it can be that they do not believe they have the ability to outperform their opponent.   Research has shown that most of us carry on self-talk (an ongoing dialogue in our minds) of 150 – 300 words a minute. These may be simple things such as “I’m hungry”, “I forgot my wallet” etc.  But it can be dangerous when we start to have negative thoughts e.g. “I’m not that good an athlete”, “he is better than me”. This kind of self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and lead the athlete to not improving their performance.

    Beliefs can be positive and negative.  When we experience something, we can choose to put the thought through a negative belief pathway or positive belief pathway.  The pathway we use will determine how we use the experience.

    One Way of Strengthening Motivation

    One way to strengthen motivation us for athletes to learn positive self-talk or specific affirmations e.g.  “I am a great tennis player”, “I am a fast runner”, “I am fast”, “I am quick and agile”.  These types of affirmations are regularly used by professional athletes.

    There are simple steps to change from limiting beliefs to positive beliefs –

    1. Identify which areas of your life are not working as well as you wish them to.
    2. Write down some affirmations that show the way you want things to be. Use them as a basis for creating new positive pathways.
    3. Affirmations should be short, to the point and positive.  
    4. Each day, relax (using some of the methods discussed in previous lessons).  
    5. Then speak your affirmations 5 – 20 times, depending on how much time you have and how many affirmations you have.  
    6. Speak the affirmations out loud!  

    This course can benefit both athletes and those who are helping athletes.

    By developing a deeper awareness of sports psychology, the athlete will be better prepared to notice psychological weaknesses, and take action early. Those who are helping athletes will know what the psychological dangers are, be more likely to see potential problems, and better able to manage the risks and optimise the strengths in the psychology of the athlete the are working with.

    Student Comment: "The course was useful for my goalkeeper coaching practises. [It} met my expectations and gave me some good insights; I liked the way the course was structured, especially the way I could work at my own pace WITHOUT any pressure. The course has specifically helped with ideas for motivating players." Mario Rimati, Football Coach & Phys Ed Teacher, Italy - Sports Psychology course
     Start your new career by studying sports psychology.
    An excellent start point to learn more about psychological principles used in sports
    Enrol today to find out more.
    Enrolling is easy - just go to the "It's easy to enrol" box at the top of this page - this course is available to start at any time.

    If you have any questions you can contact us now, by

    Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

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    Meet some of our academics

    Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
    Tracey JonesWidely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

    Check out our eBooks

    Human NutritionBoth a text for students, or an informative read for anyone who wants to eat better. While covering the basics, the book approaches nutrition a little differently here to some other books, with sections covering ”Modifying diet according to Genetic Disposition or Lifestyle”, “How to find Reliable Information on Nutrition” and “Understanding how Diet relates to Different Parts of the Body” (including Urinary, Digestive, Respiratory and Circulatory System, the Brain, etc). This ebook was written to complement the ACS Nutrition I course, and provides a solid foundation for anyone wanting to grasp a fundamental understanding of Human Nutrition. 41 pages
    Counselling HandbookFull of interesting case studies, this ebook is a wonderful introduction to the complex world of the human psyche. Chapters include: Using Counselling, Seeing Behind the Mask, Emotions and Attitudes, Communicating Better, Theory vs Practice, Diffusing Difficult Situations and Golden Rules for Counselors. 43 pages
    How Children ThinkLearn more about child psychology and how children think. Have you ever tried to make a child clean up their mess, stop throwing mud or stop drawing on the walls? Then you will know that children think differently to adults. This book is for parents or students of psychology. Seven chapters cover: developmental stages, the influence of nature and nurture, creating balance, changing behaviours, problems and solutions, and staying up to date. 73 pages 40 colour photos
    How to be a Life CoachLife coaching is a relatively new profession - although coaches have been around for a long time in the guise of trainers, instructors, managers and tutors for various professions and disciplines. Life coaching is not easily defined, but it is a type of mentoring which focuses on helping individuals to achieve what they would like to achieve and thereby to lead more fulfilling lives. Unlike other forms of coaching, it takes place outside of the workplace and is concerned with all aspects of a person’s life.