Sport Psychology
Articles and Videos

A popular group of articles on what ‘is the difference that makes the difference’ in sporting success. The mental game and sport psychology is where true champions emerge. You may also be interested in our most popular, most recent and other categories of articles and videos.

Olympic Mental Challenges – Insights from Dr Nicole Detling

In this article, Dr Detling talks about the driving force behind those pressures, the technique she uses to work with athletes of all levels and the principal challenges athletes commonly face. She also shares her guiding philosophy to get through adverse situations, the similarities between performers and athletes and the relationship performance anxiety and confidence share.

Coaches, Don’t Let your Athletes Miss this in their Training Journals

We’ve all heard about the importance of athletes keeping training journals to improve performance, and like all valuable performance strategies it isn’t whether or not our athletes know about it, but whether they do it. Bo Hanson, Senior Consultant at Athlete Assessments says, “a training journal is one of the first activities we encourage athletes to do.

Results | Evidence | Impact – Mental Performance Consultant in Action

The dynamic and innovative Mental Performance Consultant, Dr Tiffany Jones gets results. Her portfolio of winning clients evidences her impact. The mental skills dynamo teaches strategies which immediately influence a team’s score line and through this article we’ll create a window into her work. Her exceptional repertoire of skills and outstanding ability led to an invitation to present at the recent Jr NBA 2018 Youth Basketball Leadership Conference in Chicago.

Answer to THE Coaching Question

Plain speak analysis of a report detailing the differences between the small percentage of super athletes and their competitors. What’s the difference between super champions, champions and athletes who don’t quite make it? It’s the quintessential coaching question and in this article we’ll recap the research findings that reveal the answers and tell you everything you need to know to apply the academic knowledge to everyday coaching.

Domino Effect in Sport

Why it’s more helpful to believe that moments are unconnected. Many believe in the ‘domino effect’ as a natural force in life and subsequently, sport. It’s often referred to as the concept of ‘momentum’. The domino effect is best explained as looking at life, or sport, as a series of somehow connected events or situations. When one domino is pushed, the others all fall until the inevitable end result occurs and a thousand dominos are all lying flat.

The Pressure of Perfectionism

How the pressure of perfectionism can be alleviated by coaching strategies that focus on effort not execution, beliefs and behavior. ‘The Rise of Perfectionism’ among college students is a significant trend according to an article by the Harvard Business Review. In summary, the article was reporting on research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which surveyed 41,641 American, Canadian, and British college students from 1989 to 2016 and found an increasing tendency towards perfectionism – unrealistically high expectations of achievement.

Academic Excellence Transfers into Sporting Arena

Dual role sees Professor of Psychology build success in student-athletes as Head Coach of MCLA Lacrosse team. Professor Maria Bartini, brings a wealth of insight, resources and invaluable real-life examples to her position as Head Coach of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) lacrosse team. In addition to her Head Coach role, she’s an active lecturing professor.

Why Bullying Doesn’t Build Mental Toughness

Why bullying doesn’t get long-term results, build mental skills or mental toughness.In a revealing interview with Dr. Jen Fraser, for End Bullying & Abuse in Sports Summit, Bo Hanson 3 x Olympic medalist and 4 x Olympian explains why a Coach’s bullying tactics will not create a pathway for personal growth, long-term results, mental skills or mental toughness.

Getting Comfortable with The Uncomfortable

Elite athletes are comfortable in uncomfortable situations, they need to be, in fact, this skill alone can convert all of work they’ve done leading up to this moment into a victory. Recall how often Championships are won or lost in the last few seconds of a game, or the way there are split seconds between podium positions at important competitions and you’ll know exactly why your athletes need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Do Millennials Really Lack Mental Toughness?

From little things, big things grow and that’s definitely true of mental toughness. Mental toughness is like a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. In this article we’ll examine whether we as Coaches are providing Millennials (or any aged athlete) with enough opportunities to grow the mental skills that produce award-winning performances.

The Ultimate Equalizer in Sport

Is the obsession with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities a misguided focus, even a missed opportunity? You don’t have to scratch far below the surface to reveal one of the biggest concerns for the Coaches that lead athletic programs. They’re usually the first and quickest to identify what they’d swap the equipment for. It’s mental toughness in their athletes.

Cutting Through the Confusion Encompassing Mental Toughness

You’re not alone if you’re confused about the various terms used to describe mental toughness, from grit, sport psychology and mental skills to resilience, there are numerous ways to describe and refer to mental toughness. Do they mean the same thing, or are there important distinctions between them? In this article we cut through the confusion surrounding mental toughness and focus on the most important elements for success in sport.

BECKY AHLGREN BEDICS  Sports Consultant’s “All In” Attitude Accelerates Personal Growth 

An “all in” attitude sees Sport Psychology Consultant Becky Ahlgren Bedics use every piece of herself to ensure her athletes, Coaches and athletic administrators are the very best they can be. In this article we put the spotlight on one of the in-demand consultants we work with and share her insights into the critical link between personal growth and athletic performance. 

Forum For Sports Thought in Sport Psychology

Amidst the intersection of ideas at the Annual Conference of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), Athlete Assessments will be hosting an exhibit to promote its DISC Profiles for sport, Consultant Program and the popular Athlete Tough workbook and video series. The Annual Conference is a forum, attended by the best in the business, for ideas and approaches to improve performance in sport.

BACK TO BASICS: Resiliency

As Coaches, we are responsible for an athlete’s whole development.  And the defining factor in an athlete’s performance is not going to come down to their technical skills but rather their non-technical skills and their resilience. So, let’s take it back to basics and look at 5 strategies for developing resilience.

Mental Skills in Sport: Preparing your Athletes for Success

mental1In conversations I have, coaches often say to me: “So I have this athlete, and they have great physiology, they’ve got a massive VO2, and a really good motor. But they can’t concentrate, are undisciplined, doesn’t listen to me…but they could be such a success”. Often people put too much emphasis on the physical capabilities of an athlete, when the mental skills they lack are just as critical to an athlete’s success.

Sport Psychology for Sport Coaches: What you need to know

Tennis playerWhile Sport Psychologists can provide a valuable service in sport, sport coaches need a basic knowledge of Sport Psychology. Often though, coaches find the topic daunting and therefore put it in the “too hard” basket. Other coaches employ the services of a sport psychologist to assist their athletes and miss important benefits of a holistic coaching approach. In this article, we define what sport psychology is and what aspects are best incorporated into training and competition day by the sports coach.

US Navy SEALs Resilience: Lessons on Mental Toughness

RowingFadedMental toughness and resilience is a key quality in athletes that are revered and successful in their chosen sport. The US Navy SEALs resilience is renowned, they are some of the most mentally tough people in the world. So when I was afforded the opportunity to spend time with the Navy SEALs and listen to their take on mental toughness, it was a real privilege and one of the most significant experiences I had during my coaching years. 

Athlete Transition: WHEN ALL YOU HAVE IS YOUR SPORT?

This is a topic that has recently gained a lot of momentum as a critical issue in sport. For elite athletes, the large majority of their effort and energy is focused on their training and competition. Throughout their careers, athletes make personal, professional and financial sacrifices so they can pursue their dreams. This is where the concept of the ‘Athlete Transition’ comes into play. ‘Athlete Transition’ is all about dealing with the challenge of no longer being an elite athlete, whether from a sudden injury or retirement, or even after an athlete’s college sporting career is over.

It’s not about Deficits, it’s about being your Best

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Sport Psychology is that an athlete needs to have deficits in their mental game before they can seek support. But Sport Psychologist, Dr. Justin Anderson works with some of the world’s best athletes who just want to “be better”. Dr Anderson, a Licensed Psychologist who leads his Minnesota based practice, knows the value of this distinction.

Solving Athlete Confidence for Good: A Coach’s Guide

RunnersWhether you have been coaching for years or decades you will know the struggle of week-to-week athlete up and downs. Often this fluctuation in performance is attributed to confidence, but is confidence the answer to getting consistent athlete performance? What if I told you it wasn’t confidence that needed development to reach consistent performance? Stop thinking about building athlete confidence, it is far more effective to look towards how you can build an athlete’s self-belief in their competencies.

Research on Abuse in Sport and Athlete Welfare

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Recently Sports Illustrated published an important article titled, ‘Is the era of abusive college coaches finally coming to an end?’. The article highlighted alarming issues with modern collegiate athletics based on surveys of 20,000 college athletes, as well as the latest research in psychophysiology, psychology, depression, health and abusive leadership. In reading the article, what becomes crystal clear is the impact the coach has on either magnifying or eliminating these issues. 

Emotional Intelligence for Elite Athletes

GolfCloseAlthough emotional intelligence is still a relatively new term in sport, it is certainly not a new concept. For years we have marveled at how the great athletes are able to “switch themselves on” to create amazing performances with incredible consistency. We would describe them as being composed, mentally tough, having the right psychology, a great sports mind, emotionally controlled or simply determined or focused.

Athlete Learning Styles – A Must-Have for your Coaching Toolbox

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Have you ever noticed how some athletes “get” instructions immediately, while for others it takes a while for things to click? Many Coaches develop their own ways of working with their athletes’ learning styles and having a well-proven framework can be extremely useful. Being able to adjust how you “teach” to suit the individual needs of your athletes is a hallmark of great coaching.

Choking in Sport: Inside Every Athlete’s Worst Nightmare

BaseballHow many times have you witnessed the heartbreak of an athlete faltering at a crucial moment? At these times, the terms choking or panicking are thrown around loosely to label the under-performance of the individual or team. But what do these terms mean? And can anything prevent an athlete from choking? In ‘What the Dog Saw’, Malcolm Gladwell’s thought-provoking chapter on The Art of Failure discusses the difference between the behaviour, brain processes, and psychological studies related to choking and panicking.

Athlete Decision Making Skills: Coaching for Improvement

SoccerKickAthletes who have the ability to create truly great performances on the field or in a race have one very important skill in common. They are excellent decision makers – instead of letting things happen, they take control and make things happen. This article explains: The Athlete Decision Making Process, How to Improve Athlete Decision Making, How Your Coaching Style Effects Decision Making, and AthleteDISC & Decision Making. 

Improve Athlete Resiliency – 6 Tips for Coaches

DartTargetWhat the best athletes, and the most successful people, have in common is not that they do not make mistakes. They all do. However, they have an incredible ability to recover from these mistakes. These athletes have a well-developed recovery strategy, whether it is conscious or unconscious. Defining the skills and behaviors of resilient people however is not as simple, as there are a range of skills involved. What is critical to realize, is that resiliency is not a personality trait or behavioral style. Resiliency is a skill anyone can learn.

Amy Cuddy TED Talks – Implications for Sport

Amy Cuddy TED TalksThere is always something interesting or inspiring to see on TED Talks and recently we saw a video which was such a stand out we just had to share it with you!  Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and an associate professor at Harvard Business School. In her TED Talks video she discusses how your body language shapes who you are. The application of this research has significant impact for those in sport. Some of her most fascinating findings were on how body language can alter the levels of cortisol and testosterone in your body.

Poor Performance in Sport – How to Cope

SprintStartIn sport as in life there are times when we don’t deliver our best when called on to do so. At the elite level, a poor performance in sport is when you or your team are 1% off your best. This contributes to an unwanted result combined with the feeling of letting yourself or others down. Written for athletes and Coaches, this article explores the emotional aspect of a poor performance and result which occurs at the most important time of the season.

Control and Influence Model in Sport

RowingCloseAt some point in time most athletes have been (or should be) exposed to the Control and Influence Model also known as the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. This model is taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, a fantastic book which we highly recommend. In your sporting environment are you spending too much focus, time and energy on the things outside of your control?

Brain Snaps in Sport – The Amygdala Hijack

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There are many infamous examples of brain snaps in sport, but what happens when something similar occurs to one of your athletes during a highly charged training session or in competition? The combination of a trigger, a strong emotion, an automatic reaction and feelings of regret are the sequence of events known as an Amygdala Hijack. Understanding how this process works, and how to ensure the safety of important relationships during a brain snap can be invaluable knowledge for both the athlete and coach in the heat of the moment.

Prevent Choking in Sport using Holistic Word Cues

GolferWith great feedback received on our article “Choking or Panicking“, this follow up article delves into more depth on how choking can be prevented at the highest level. Great champions and high performance athletes have their own tricks and distractions to allow peak performance under pressure, and these are often highly personal. So how can you ensure you “make it happen” rather than feeling the disappointment that comes with an unsatisfactory result?

Goal Setting using DISC for Sport

Athletics womenIn previous articles we have touched on the concept of goal setting. Whether you are a coach, athlete or in sports management, you can use your understanding of your DISC Profile to improve your Goal Setting and ensure your goals are being achieved. Goals are vital for success in life and it is even more important to specify your goals by writing them down as this enables us to be specific about your priorities to achieve.

Training and Competition: What to do when your athletes don’t perform?

FootballSunsetThis article was written during national team selection time for one of our clients. It reminded me of how I felt during my own selection for various national and Olympic teams, and inspired me to share the most important lessons I learnt about the connection between training and competition. At the end of this article, I’ve also included my top three coaching tips for helping athletes manage their nerves during competition.

When All You Have Is Sport: For Coaches and Athletes

Double_Call_Out_453x255_RS_CoachWhat happens when all you have is sport? To be blunt, your performances (whether as a coach or athlete) can be adversely affected. From an athlete or coach’s perspective, your identity (who you see yourself as) and self-esteem needs to be attached to more than what sport you play, who you play for and the results you achieve. If sport is the only major part of someone’s life and as sport goes, it naturally has its ups and downs, then the coach or athlete’s self-esteem is also attached to this one dimensional “roller coaster”.

Mental Toughness: Unique Experience at the US Navy Seals Training Day

SunriseRunnerRecently I was fortunate to take part (as a coach, not athlete!) in a US Navy Seals training day in San Diego, specifically for groups of Olympic athletes in training for 2012. I was genuinely moved by the entire experience and in particular the commitment of the athletes and the Navy Seal Officers who took charge in training the athletes. This article is a tribute to what I learnt on the day and how this translates into our lives as coaches, athletes and sports administrative staff.

Resiliency in Sport – Video Presentation

Jenga puzzleIn this 14 Part Video Presentation Bo Hanson, 4x Olympian and Coaching Consultant from Athlete Assessments, discusses the critical topic of Resiliency in Sport. Following this presentation we have a written summary for your convenience. In Part 1 of this Presentation on Resilience, Bo discusses Hope, Resilience and living with Expectations.

The Importance of Mental Skills in Sport – Video Presentation

Quiet AthletesIt’s now accepted that it is the mental game that ultimately wins any race or competitive game. It is what distinguishes the very top athletes from the ordinary. So, why are mental skills so important for success in sport? Find out what Bo Hanson has to say on this critical topic in the below video. In the end, having solid mental skills can be more important for elite performance than an athlete’s physiological capabilities. 

Teaching Mental Toughness: US Navy Seals – Video Presentation

BO HEADSHOTVideo Presentation by Bo Hanson, 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments. In this video Bo Hanson recounts his experience of spending a day with the U.S. Navy Seals and what he learnt from them about Mental Toughness. Resources for Teaching Mental Toughness are also included for your convenience. 

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