Sports Psychology

School of Psychology -Sports Psychology course from the directory of psychology, human behaviour and counselling courses at ACS Distance Education, for online or correspondence study.

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

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Sports Psychology course - Improve Athletic and Sports Persons Performance with a Greater Understanding of the Human Mind


Better understand performance in sporting and exercise activities.

Sports psychology is the study of the interaction between a person’s psychology and their participation in sport. Singer (1978) defined it as “the science of psychology applied to sport”. Whilst the field of psychology is relatively young, sports psychology is even younger. The field of sports psychology has much to offer, carrying out useful research that can be made available to athletes and coaches.

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.

Sports psychologists provide two major types of services –

  • Counselling -in areas that affect the athlete
  • Strategies that enhance performance

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


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
    • Basic Principles
    • Intrinsic Motivation
    • Extrinsic Motivation
    • Factors Affecting Motivation
    • Motivation 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
    • 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.

Factors Affecting the Team Environment

Eight different dimensions of the team environment need to be considered:

1. Autonomy

The opportunity to function independent of the group leader. Autonomous athletes feel more comfortable if allowed to make decisions on their own; at least sometimes. Others may influence or guide but to retain a sense of autonomy, that influence must be subtle.

2. Support

Athletes need to feel emotional support from their trainer/coach and team members. A sense of caring and sharing is a fundamental psychological need in sport and any other life situation.

3. Pressure

In competitive sport, a sense of pressure to succeed is always present and for ultimate success, it needs to be present. Some stress or tension will be inevitable along with pressure; and the team environment may easily become “tight” or “anxious”. This atmosphere does need to be controlled: if it gets out of hand it can damage the team and affect performance; but without some pressure, the performance might not be as good either.

4. Recognition

Recognition by the coach, spectators, the opposing team, team mates etc, will strengthen the team.

5. Trust

Athletes need to trust the actions of each other in a team. The overall team outcome, and very often, an individual athlete’s well being, will depend upon the performance of the team mates.

6. Fairness

This is a perception that can vary from one person to another. One team member may think they are fair, and another think they are not fair. The coach’s perception can be different again. An athlete’s perception of fairness may be affected by:

A/ The degree of compatibility between 2 different people’s outlooks.

B/ The accuracy of communication between 2 people.

C/ Discrepancies in factual knowledge that the two people have.

If a difference of perception is identified between two team members, these three issues need to be examined in turn.

7. Innovation

Everything in this world changes, and in order to adapt to change, innovations need to be created and applied. There is a collective potential within a team that exceeds the potential of any one individual (e.g. a captain, trainer or coach); but in order to harness that collective potential, the team leadership must be willing to tolerate or even better, encourage creative input and innovation from all team members.

8. Cohesiveness

This is a measure of the overall sense of belonging to a team.

Benefits of Studying This Course

An understanding of sports psychology embraces not just competitive sports but also fitness, endurance, and athleticism. This course examines the role that thoughts, behaviours and emotions play in sports performance and training. Students learn about things that inhibit performance and ways to combat them, as well as techniques for using negative thoughts and feelings to enhance performance. Students are encouraged to adapt strategies to suit individuals or teams, and a variety of special cases. 

This course is of most interest to people working in, or aspiring to work in:

  • Sports psychology
  • Sports coach
  • Personal trainer
  • Athlete
  • Sportsman
  • Health professions

The course may also be of interest to people who have friends or family who aspire to become athletes whether on an amateur or professional level.

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Lyn Quirk

M.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 fo
Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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