Top in je Kop: How young athletes in The Netherlands are improving their mental skills behind their computer

We are proud to have Mark Schuls as guest author for our blog. Enjoy his text about his work with online training for youth athletes.

The Internet provides alternative ways of delivering sport psychology services to athletes. It has some advantages compared to classical methods of mental training, like face-to-face consulting and workshops. Maybe the most important one, is that the threshold to start is much lower. Also, people differ in the way they learn. Where some people learn by interaction with others, others like to read and reflect on themselves.

I am working as a sport psychology consultant in The Netherlands and I have implemented online mental training in the way I work, by designing a module for young athletes to improve their mental skills. Young athletes are presented skills like goal setting and imagery stepwise, by using examples from elite athletes, animated videos and exercises. There are three parts of the training divided in three steps. The focus of the three parts is on exploring their mental skills, learning to train effectively and performing under pressure respectively.

One example comes from step five of the training, in which the athletes learn how to build self-confidence. This exercise starts with “building a wall” as a metaphor for improving self-confidence. If you want to build a wall, you will have to use bricks. More bricks make the wall more solid. When something hits a weak wall, it will burst and maybe even collapse. When something hits a strong wall, there will be no or little damage. The bricks of self-confidence are positive experiences. The more positive experiences an athlete will have, the stronger his or her self-confidence will be.

Next, the young athlete is asked to write down positive experiences in each brick of a wall. This way, they will create an overview of their positive experiences. One could also use a marker and Lego blocks. This idea stems from the principles of positive psychology, which stress the importance of focusing on one’s strengths. The wall can be a reminder of what young athletes already have achieved and it can stimulate them to also focus on positive aspects of performance.

About the author: Mark Schuls has been working for 10 years as a registered sport psychologist in The Netherlands for his own company, TipTop Sport. More information can be found at


Pre-Performance Routine: “We are what we repeatedly do.”

We are proud to have Dr. Duncan Simpson as guest author for our blog. Enjoy his text about how to develop pre-performance routines.

Pre-performance routines (PPR’s) have been taught by coaches and advocated by sport psychologists (e.g., Boutcher, 1990; 1992; Lobmeyer & Wasserman, 1986; Lidor & Tenebaum, 1993) for many years. The widespread use of PPR’s is probably because the moments before skill execution are crucial in deciding whether a performer achieves a peak performance state (Boucher, 1990). Therefore, it is hardly surprising that PPR’s have consistently been shown to have a beneficial effect on performance (see Cohn, 1991; Cohn et al., 1990; Cotterill, 2010, 2011; Cotterill & Hill, 2014; Crews & Boutcher, 1987; Mesagno & Mullane-Grant, 2010; Wrisberg & Pein, 1992).

Athletes often use PPR’s in sports that can contain closed skills (e.g., tennis serves/returns, basketball free-throw, golf shots/putts). The nature of closed skills allows athletes crucial moments of personal control in an environment which is otherwise uncontrollable. The most commonly accepted definition of PPR’s is “a sequence of task-relevant thoughts and actions which an athlete engages in systematically before his or her performance of a specific skills” (Moran, 1996, p. 177). While, the terms routine, superstition, and ritual are sometimes used interchangeably by athletes and coaches there are important and distinguishable differences. Routines should specifically address task-relevant thoughts (e.g., focus cues) and actions (e.g. relaxation breaths) that can be logically connected to aiding a performance outcome. In other words, there should be nothing in a PPR that does not in some way connect to the skill being executed. However, superstitions and rituals are in many ways connected to the creation of luck and often contain actions that have no logical connection to performance (e.g., wearing a lucky pair of socks, tapping body parts, avoiding stepping on lines). A simple way to differentiate these terms is with the following statement “superstitions and rituals control you, while you control routines.” However, having said this, when I start working athletes I won’t necessarily try to change or ban superstitions or rituals straight away. Instead, I will work with athletes in a collaborative process to ensure they understand what they are doing before the performance and why they are doing it.

When developing a PPR with an athlete, I start by thinking about the what might influence his or her performance. This idea is supported by Gallucci (2014) who said “pre-performance routines probably should include all aspects that may influences performance” (p.14). In fact, researchers investigating the nature of PPR suggest athletes use a range of psychological strategies depending on the specific requirements and demands of the performance and that each PPR should be individualized (Cotterill, Sander, & Collins, 2010). Furthermore, while, the consistency of a PPR is important it should be the task demands that influence the duration of the PPR (Jackson & Baker, 2001). For example, some golf shots simply need more planning time than others (e.g., bunker shot vs. pitch from the fairway). Therefore, PPR’s should be individualized and focused on what the athletes “do” and “need” as opposed to keeping the PPR a consistent time (Cotterill, 2008; Holder, 2003). However, while task demands and flexibility are important, athletes should develop a generic template for their PPR routine based upon the psychological and performance demands of their sport (Cotterill, 2008). To summarize PPR should be individualized, systematic, flexible, have a generic template, include all aspects that may influence performance and be specific to the demands at that moment of performance.

When we break down performance, there are four skill components: physical, tactical, technical, and mental skills (Wrisberg, 2007). Physical skills involve the body’s readiness to execute a particular movement. Tactical skills involve decision-making aimed at giving athletes an advantage. Technical skills refer to the effective execution of a particular movement. Lastly, mental skills involved the effective mobilization of thoughts and feelings to maximize performance. Given that just about any sporting performance involves these four core components and that the ultimate purpose of a PPR is best prepare the athlete to perform, then a PPR should include and be structured around these four core components. Therefore, I like all my athletes to develop a PPR that ensures they address each one of these components before they try to perform. The order, the behaviors, and time spent on each component don’t necessarily have to be consistent, but rather it is based on the specific demands at that moment. So I like to collaborate with athletes to ensure they have the necessary skills that can be used as part of their PPR “toolbox.” The following are examples of what athletes can do within each component of the PPR:

  • Physical: Body language, stretching, body scan, centering breathing, hydration/nutrition.
  • Tactical: Complete evaluation of the task demands and a decision on the required response.
  • Technical: Grip, body/feet position, swing or throwing motion.
  • Mental: Attentional focus, self-talk, relaxation strategies, imagery, preparatory arousal.

The following is an example of a PPR for a tennis serve. After the point, the player goes to his/her towel, takes some deep breathes and does a quick body scan to check that his/her body is ready to play (Physical). Next, the player slowly walks to the service line and develops a point-plan (Tactical). Once the player arrives at the service line, they set the feet, grip their racket, and check their body is in the right position (Technical). Lastly, the player looks down the court, identifies a clear target in the opponent’s service box, uses a piece of positive self-talk, takes a couple of breaths to relax (mental) and serves.

Athletes must develop a PPR that best addresses their personal and performance needs. Those working with athletes must try to accept existing routines and behaviors (unless maladaptive), seek to understand why they are used, and then implement subtle changes where needed (Cotterill et al., 2010; Cotterill, 2010). Lastly, PPR must be utilized in practice on a consistent basis and reinforced by coaches for the PPR to be most effective in competitions.


About the author
Dr. Duncan Simpson joined IMG academy in January 2017 and provides mental conditioning services for tennis and golf. Dr. Simpson was previously at Barry University in Miami where he served as an Associate Professor in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology Program. Originally from England, he received his Ph.D in Sport Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Simpson is a Certified Consultant with the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP). Since 2005 he has been conducting mental skills training with athletes and coaches from a range of sports and varying in talent and ability from beginners to professional/Olympic athletes, including NCAA D-I, II, & III student-athletes. 

The European Network of Young Specialits in Sport Psychology (ENYSSP)

Vi heter Fredrik och Mikael! För flera av er kanske det inte var någon nyhet, men det är vi som driver den här bloggen och ger vårt bidrag för att sprida idrottspsykologi i Sverige. Den här veckan kommer blogginlägget från internationella vänner och den idrottspsykologiska föreningen The European Network of Young Specialists in Sport Psychology (ENYSSP) i vilken Fredrik Weibull är ordförande. Väldigt spännande förening! Svensk idrottspsykologisk förening och ENYSSP liknar varandra bara det att ENYSSP arbetar internationellt och med ett speciellt fokus på våra yngre talanger.

Mycket nöje! Trevlig helg,

Are you interested in sport and exercise psychology? Then ENYSSP is an organisation for you!

During the end of last week the eight ENYSSP Workshop was organised. Three years ago it was in Greece, last year in Finland and this year in Slovakia. The workshop took place in Kosice, Slovakia between the 25th and the 27th of October. The workshop was a great success with good presentations. We for example had two excellent keynote speakers: Chris Harwood (UK) and Karin de Bruin (NL).

Check out the ENYSSP Workshop program here:

The European Network of Young Specialists in Sport Psychology (ENYSSP) is an international organisation concerned with the promotion and dissemination of knowledge in the field of sport and exercise psychology in the areas of research, education and applied work. Our main aim is to create opportunities for students and young professionals to develop in the field of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Students and young professionals can take part in the annual ENYSSP Workshop where they can learn in symposiums and workshops and through networking. They can also present their own work through a poster and possibly a workshop. It is not decided where the next ENYSSP Workshop will be yet, but as soon as this has been decided it will be announced on the ENYSSP Website. ENYSSP also offer unique possibilities for online meetings with members where specific and relevant topics are discussed between members (Big Social Online Meetings “B-SOMEs”). You can learn new things when reading our Newsletter. ENYSSP sends out Flash news and organize symposiums and workshops at other conferences and plan to organize other events in Europe. If you have more ideas on how we could help you in your development in sport psychology let us know!

If you want to become active in ENYSSP I first recommend you to become a member of ENYSSP. Then ask ENYSSP how you can become actively involved. The best way is to contact one of the Department Coordinators via the web site. I also encourage you to come with your own suggestions on what you can do.

ENYSSP organizes online peer consultations The aim of the sessions will be to learn from the consultation process in order gain insight into one’s professional practice and to explore options and solutions with equals.

ENYSSP also organizes Big Online Social Meetings (B-SOMEs) to improve networking and sharing among members. The purpose of our B-SOMEs are: a) to share experiences about research, applied work, or education via very specific themes; b) to address ENYSSP – related issues such as the improvement of our network; c) to address sport psychology related issues such as lack of education, difficult working conditions, or contacts with different sport psychological federations.

Join the ENYSSP Facebook Page, just request an invite. If you are an ENYSSP member you will receive updates through our Newsletter and through emails. You can email the Department coordinators and ask questions.

You can also log in to our website:

Have a great weekend!


An Interview with Henrik Larsson

We are proud to introduce our new international guest author Alexander Titkov. Read about Alexander after the article.

“My passion for football is as strong as always; my love for the sport still burns in me. There is no money, confirmation or kingdom that can quench my fire.” – Henrik Larsson

It’s a typical November day in Skåne (southernmost province of Sweden); the sky is grey and overcast with no sign of sun. I hop on the Öresundstag train at Lund Central Station and take the 15 minute journey towards Landskrona. I had first come across an interview with Henrik Larsson some years ago in FourFourTwo Magazine. There was a photo I still remember of the Celtic clad Swede, crutches in-hand, on the verge of recovery from a career-threatening tackle.

Henrik Larsson would overcome that barrier, as he did others, and go on to win a total of four league titles with Celtic FC, two league titles with FC Barcelona, the 2006 Champions League title, scoring 362 goals, appearing in three World Cups (Bronze in ’94) and three European Championship appearances. I stopped in at the Landskrona BoIS clubhouse for a fika to talk football, music, snus and I learn what ungdomars ovetskap means.

Did you play any other sports growing up and as a professional football player?
Growing up I used to play a lot of sports, all different kinds including floor hockey, ice hockey in the winters with friends, tennis in the summer, playing football whenever I could but as a professional footballer, not really. What I did for leisure when the time was right was maybe some golf.

What kind of music do you like? Did you ever listen to music to prepare for practices or games?
I usually listened to the radio whenever I was on my way training and when you came to the club there was always somebody playing some kind of music. I listen to most (kinds of music): R&B, classic… I don’t have a particular taste. I can listen to anything except for heavy metal. Other than that I listen to everything. When we were in Portugal in 2004 for the European Championship, we had a lot of music before the games, from international to Swedish music. For some players it works, for some it doesn’t. For me it was nice to have a good tune before you went out. It helped you think about other things.

Did you have any pre-game routines or before practice?
Before every game I used to do certain things, the night before the games, the routines I had were more or less the same through the years. Come game day, you wanted to wake up in a nice and easy way, then just take it from there and try to follow a routine to best prepare for the game and I had a lot of different things I used to do. It’s like a check-list. When you’ve done them, you know you’ve done everything in your power to do things the right way before the game.

Was there something particular you would do?
It’s everything from eating right, having the massage at a certain time, then stupid things like pulling on the left sock before the right one. It’s more of a check-list really.

I read that growing up you were a big Brazil fan.
Brazil was always a team we would follow because my father spoke Portuguese and in those days Sweden wasn’t in the World Cup, so we liked the way they played. My idol was Pele so it just came naturally to follow them.

Do you think watching their style of play influenced the way you played?
You watched a good footballer and you tried to pick out the best things and try to do the things they would do. In those days, there wasn’t that much football on television and when you saw something you tried to copy. Nowadays, the kids have the PlayStation and XBOX so they have another way to copy tricks so there’s a big advantage for them.

As a player growing up, how important was social support from friends and family?
Of course, when you came home after training or a game you always want your parents to ask you, “how did it go today?” It’s always nice when somebody cares and I always had that from home. They knew I loved to play football so they made sure every time I came home to ask how it went.

Is there something most people don’t know about you?
No, I don’t think so. I mean, I’m a different person privately compared to Henrik Larsson the ex-football player to Henrik Larsson the trainer. I think I can be quite funny sometimes even though I don’t show it towards the rest of the world. I choose to do that when I’m around my friends and they know the real Henrik Larsson and that’s the way I want to keep it.

I heard on the Swedish radio show ”Sommarpratarna” that you spoke about taking a snus before you took the sixth penalty in ’94. Was it common for players to use snus?
Back then yeah, a lot of players did it. I remember it (laughs); it was just to calm myself down a little bit. I didn’t realize how important that penalty kick was back then but now I do.

Maybe that was a good thing to help you from thinking about it too much?
There’s a term in Swedish, ungdomars ovetskap, which means the ignorance of youth, when you don’t realize the importance of something. I was 22 at the time and I didn’t even think about it when they told me to take the sixth penalty; I just said yes.

As a player, you played at a lot of different clubs with different systems. Were there any systems you particularly liked or was it a matter of merely adapting to it?
For me, it was just a matter of adapting to different systems. I had a lot of success with 4-4-2, some success with 4-3-3 as well. So, all the systems are good and you need to have them but you need to be surrounded by good players as well. If you make the right run but don’t get the ball, you won’t score, simple as that. I was fortunate enough to play with some great players in Holland, Scotland, Spain and in England. You can do all the running you want but if there’s nobody there to give you the ball, it doesn’t matter.

The economy has affected Swedish clubs. Do you think clubs should focus more on youth development?
I think that’s general in Sweden, but I think we realized that a few years back because we don’t have the economic means. We need to develop them in the youth systems because we can’t go out and buy them. I think all the clubs understand that nowadays that you have to have a solid foundation to pick your players from and if there isn’t then maybe you can go out and buy a player or two.

Do you think Swedish clubs are lacking in anything else compared to other European ones?
Funds. It’s all about the money. I really, really believe with all my heart that it’s all about money. We can’t even compete with Norway or Denmark financially. As soon as you get a decent player, they will go abroad to those two countries or he’s going to go Holland. So it’s unfortunate that it’s down to money. You might be lucky once if you get an exceptionally talented group and make an impact for a season but if you look at Malmö this year, they were an exceptional group but they weren’t even able to do anything in the Europa League. I have to say sorry, but it’s the money. If we can’t find a way to support the Swedish clubs, maybe by some form of tax reform, I think we’re going to be in this situation or worse in the years to come.

Do you think the Swedish cultural norm of “lagom”, of not being exceptional or standing out from the crowd limits players or coaches?
Maybe, maybe. Maybe that is more relevant to my generation. Today’s youth have a tremendous belief in themselves, so I don’t think we are the country lagom anymore. I think we want more than that and I think the new generation is trying to install that into Swedish society.

How do you feel this season went for you with Landskrona BoIS?
I’m not happy with the season. We had the potential of doing much better but that’s the way football goes. You plan for something and then things don’t go your way and you have to adapt to the situation and I think we adapted in the end because we did something, we stopped the blood flow so to speak, so with that I’m happy but with the start of the season I’m not happy at all.

Was there a particular system you used this year with Landskrona BoIS?
We started out with a 4-3-3 but we didn’t get the results that we wanted so we had to change to 4-1-4-1 but that’s just numbers again. If the players don’t understand then it doesn’t really matter which system you play. They have to know their roles in the system and understand my expectations and that’s why I’m here as a coach.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?
At the moment we are negotiating the contract but Hans (Eklund) and I have the plan already set for next year. Hopefully, after this first year, we can become more solid. There are a lot of things we need to change once we start.

Previously, you stated when you finished your career you wanted to visit your father’s homeland (Cape Verde), did you get a chance to do that?
I was there in 2008 with my father. I went to the Cape Verde islands for almost 2 weeks. I saw the house where he was born and grew up in and it was a really nice experience for me and I think my father enjoyed it as well.

Do you still have the ambition to coach in Europe someday?
Yeah, of course. That’s my goal and I have to see whether it will be possible or not. As I said before, it’s difficult but hopefully I can do something here which will be good for my career and others will notice and say, “why not?”

Alexander Titkov is currently a double degree European master’s student in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Lund University (Sweden) and at the Universität Leipzig (Germany) with a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science and Russian Area Studies from St. Olaf College (USA). Alex is also currently working with Swedish football club Ängelholm FF’s U21 squad and is the editor of the EMSEP Blog. His sport psychology areas of interest include imagery and mindfulness in Scandinavia.

Check out the EMSEP Blog: and follow Alex on Twitter: @alextitkov

The Challenge to Care: A Sports Perspective

We are proud to introduce our new international guest author Nathan Smith. Read about Nathan after the article.

An image from the recent Walker Cup (golf) has, for some reason, stuck in my mind.  Stiggy Hodgson, a member of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland squad left the course distraught after failing to contribute a single point. On camera, Stiggy was shown in tears. After a short while his captain, Nigel Edwards, joined him. What I saw over the next few seconds hit home the importance of feeling cared for. Edwards simply put his arm round his young player and I imagine what came next was something along the lines of “you tried your best, that’s all anyone can ask”. His affection, interest and respect for his player did not appear at all conditional on his performance.

This anecdote nicely compliments current research into caring sports climates. We know that climates, which encourage athletes’ feelings of care, inclusion, trust and acceptance, associate with positive outcomes and a heightened sense of well-being. Less clear, is how coaches can facilitate these feelings via the behaviors they adopt. A nice reflective exercise is to consider when you have had a particularly positive experience in sport yourself. Think about the interactions you had with you peers and the coach. How did they communicate a sense of acceptance, trust, and respect to you?

It may seem obvious, but one way in which you can show care is by simply taking an interest in your athletes’ lives outside of sport. Sports coaches often indicate that they don’t have time to speak to every player on their team during every session. This may be so. However, there will almost certainly be occasions where you can ask about the athlete’s day. In the case of youth sport, this might be as simple as asking about their day at school?

Satisfying individuals’ feelings of care, relatedness and belonging, are consistently cited in scientific literature, but still remain understudied. One such example is in self-determination theory. The gargantuan framework applied across varied domains, identifies ‘relatedness’ as a basic psychological need. Similar to a human’s need for water, food and shelter, these psychological needs, if satisfied, contribute towards positive psychosocial development. Having said this, relatedness support has tended to be overlooked in sports psychology research in favor of the needs for autonomy and competence.

To me, it is obvious. You are unlikely to achieve ‘buy-in’ from your athletes if they don’t think you ‘care’. It could be argued that satisfying the need for relatedness is as important, if not more, important than the other needs. For instance, I recall a particularly negative experience I had in sport, whereby my coach at the time didn’t make me feel cared for. As a young golfer I would go for lessons fortnightly. It came to the point where I needed a change to develop my game further, so, I decided to seek the help of a different coach. After three or four lessons, it was clear that the coach was only interested in his £20 per half hour rate. I’m pretty sure by week four he still didn’t even know my name! To me, it didn’t matter how skilled the coach was, how competent I felt, or how much autonomy I had, if the person I was visiting took no interest in my development.

To finish, I would like you to think about the some of the famous sporting movies. Remember the Titans, Coach Carter and The Mighty Ducks are some great examples, but there are no doubt many others. These fictitious movies carry the same underlying message. The coach cares. He may seem to be a hard-nosed ‘son of a bitch’, but if you watch carefully, the performance of the team relies heavily on the investment, time and commitment of the coach. In the Mighty Ducks, when Gordon Bombay neglects his athletes to chase the pretty Icelandic blonde their performance suffers. Only when he shows them true care and attention do they prosper.

This piece was inspired by Nel Noddings’ book The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (1992). Its sole purpose is to raise the agenda of care, and encourage readers to reflect on how they can purvey care to their athletes, colleagues and clients.

Nathan Smith is a currently studying for a PhD in the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham. Specifically, his research relates to the development and testing of an objective measure of the coach created motivational climate in sport. Prior to his PhD, Nathan worked at the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) as a Training Executive in sports science and golf coaching. He is currently a tutor and marker on the PGA’s foundation degree program, which educates over 300 aspiring professionals each year.

Read other texts by Nathan on:

The Role of Life-skills in the Talent- and Career Development Process

Hej! Vi är riktigt glada över att presentera vår första internationella gäst författare på denna blogg! Passande att vi också just nu befinner oss på AASP konferensen i Providance vilket gör att även denna lilla text får en internationell touch:)

Carsten Hvid Larsen
PhD. Fellow, Institute of Sport Science, University of Southern Denmark. Part of Team Denmarks network of Sportpsychology. President of Danish Sportpsychological Association. Working applied with teams and individual athletes in golf, soccer, badminton and svimming.

This article introduces the concepts of and importance of life-skills in the talent development process.
Latest research in talent development has shown that more varied psychological and especially social and cultural circumstances play an important role for talent development. The achievement of excellent performance is about creating a connection and handling the diversity of challenges during everyday life. There is a need to perceive athletic talent development in a broader context. Athletic talent development mainly deals with the development of sport-specific competencies and skills, as well as certain performance and athletic excellence issues. Describing a talented athlete without looking at the environment is basically a reductionistic strategy. In an ecological perspective it makes no sense to look at motivation, learning strategies or discipline as inner, stabile traits of the personality. They are developed in a social context, which explains, how athletes which are very motivated and determined in one context, suddenly do not possess those traits after joining a new club.

Career development incorporates talent development with additional, important aspects, such as:
• Balancing practice, competitions, and recovery
• Balancing sport and other activities
• Interpersonal relationships and social interactions
• Rehabilitation after injuries, etc.

Career development can be seen as a broader context for talent development, where the talent development process builds up the athlete’s internal resources to cope with ever-changing career demands in relation to the social context. The talent development process occurs within a career development context and contributes to the athlete’s internal resources to cope with career transitions (Stambulova, 2009).

There are different strategies to help athletes to cope with career transitions. Preventive interventions help athletes to become better aware of forthcoming transition demands and to timely develop all necessary resources for effective coping.

The outcome of a transition consists of four factors (4 S system) (Alfermann & Stambulova, 2007):
1) Situation – event or nonevent, how is it perceived by the athlete
2) Self – personality of the athlete
3) Support – availability of different kinds of support
4) Strategies – information seeking, direct action, inhibition of action. Strategies to cope with a transition are key elements
Coping strategies is central in a transition with an emphasized match between the transition demands and the athlete’s resources (e.g. life skills) as a key factor for successful coping. For successful transitions an increased focus on working with life skills can function as a coping strategy.
Life skills can be behavioral (communicating effectively with peers and adults) or cognitive (making effective decisions); interpersonal (being assertive) or intrapersonal (setting goals) (Danish et al., 2004). An implicit assumption in this definition is that life skills helps an athlete not only succeed in the sport he or she is playing, but also help the individual once he or she transfers the skills to non-sport settings (e.g. school) in which they are used successfully.

This distinction is important because for something to qualify as a life skill, you need to be able to transfer it to other life situations. It might even be argued that a social-emotional competency developed through sport is not a life skill unless it is actually employed by the young person in a different setting. Therefore, helping a young athlete learn deep breathing to manage stress while taking an important penalty shot in soccer is certainly an example of developing a social-emotional competency; however, it is not truly a life skill unless efforts are made to transfer that breathing technique to other contexts, such as exams at school. The relocation of these skills and competencies might occur when a coach or sport psychologist intentionally emphasizes the importance of transferring skills developed or enhanced through sport participation to other life situations (Gould et al., 2008).
If you want to know more about life skills and transitions you can read these articles.
Alfermann, D., & Stambulova, N. (2007). Career transitions and career termination. In G. Tenenbaum and R. C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of Sport Psychology (3rd ed., pp.712-736). New York: Wiley.
Stambulova, N. (2009). Talent development in sport: A career transitions perspective. In E. Tsung-Min Hung, R. Lidor, & D. Hackfort (Eds.) Psychology of Sport Excellence (pp. 63-74). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
Danish, S., Taylor, T., Hodge, K., & Heke, I. (2004). Enhancing youth development through sport. World Leisure Journal, 46(3), 38_49.
Gould, D. & Carson, S. (2008) Life skills development through sport: current status and future Directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1, 58-78.

Vad är idrottspsykologi?

I detta inlägg är ambitionen att kortfattat förklara vad idrottspsykologi är för något. Vi kommer sedan att presentera några av de begreppen som ingår i idrottspsykologin.

Idrottspsykologi innebär att vetenskapligt studera människor och deras beteenden i samband med fysisk aktivitet (Gill & Williams, 2007). Inom idrottspsykologin identifieras principer och riktlinjer som verksamma i fältet kan använda sig av för att hjälpa vuxna och barn inom tävlingsidrotten och motionsidrotten. Två huvudsyften inom idrottspsykologin är att förstå hur psykologiska faktorer påverkar fysiska prestationer; och hur människors deltagande i idrott påverkar deras psykologiska utveckling, hälsa och välmående. Idrottspsykologi är aktuellt för flera olika populationer som till exempel elitidrottare, barn som idrottar, motionärer, handikappade som idrottar och tränare (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).

Självförtroende har nog de flesta någon åsikt om vad det är men generellt kan man säga att självförtroende är individens tro på sin förmåga och den kan vara antingen generellt eller situationsspecifikt (Vealey, 2001). Med det menar vi att individer kan ha olika högt självförtroende i olika situationer. Har man ett högt generellt självförtroende har man dock det i de flesta situationerna. Gällande situationsspecifikt självförtroende finns ett begrepp inom idrottspsykologin som heter self-efficasy (Bandura, 1986; 1997). Mer om detta kommer att komma i en senare text på bloggen.

Motivation är riktningen av ansträngningen och en individ kan ha en inre och yttre motivation (Weinberg & Gould, 2003). Detta har oftast de flesta tränare koll på när man pratar idrottspsykologi, vilket är bra! För det är otroligt bra om man kan skapa ett klimat där individer är inre motiverade till sin idrott. Exempel på inre motivation kan vara jag spelar fotboll för att det är roligt, tycker att det är riktigt kul att lära mig nya finter och tekniker eller att jag älskar att tävla. Exempel på yttre motivation och det kan vara spelare som enbart motiverar sig för pengarna i sporten eller enbart fokuserar på resultatet och spelarens egen poängskörd. De flesta idrottare har både en inre och en yttre motivation till sitt idrottande.

Anspänning är ett intressant begrepp och något som är väldigt viktigt. Är vi för uppspelta (hög anspänning) eller för lugna (låg anspänning) kommer vi inte att prestera vårt bästa. Utan det vi behöver göra är att hitta vår optimala anspänningsnivå och vägen dit. När presterar du som bäst? Hur känner du då? Det ser kanske lätt ut när det står skrivet på detta vis men det är någonting som vi behöver träna på och det kan vara svårt. Men som Gunde säger ”ingenting är omöjligt”

Koncentration är en viktig ingrediens för utan koncentration blir det väldigt svårt att göra någonting över huvudet taget. Som tur är kan vi inte tappa vår koncentration utan vi har alltid fokus på något. När folk säger att du har tappat koncentrationen kan du lugnt säga att du inte alls har tappat den utan att du bara koncentrerar dig på något annat! Vidare inom koncentration pratar man om inre, yttre, bred och smal koncentration (Nideffer & Segal, 2001).

Metoder att arbeta med självförtroende, motivation, koncentration och anspänning.

Rutiner kan man länka till ovanstående faktorer. Genom att skaffa dig en rutin innan match har du lättare att prestera på en jämnare nivå. Om du har en bra rutin i en viss situation vet du redan på förväg hur du ska hantera situationen, det kan hjälpa dig med din koncentration, anspänning och även ditt självförtroende.

Visualisering (mentala föreställningar) är återskapandet eller skapandet av tidigare erfarenheter med ett eller flera av dina sinnen. Detta kommer ni att få läsa förhoppningsvis mycket mer om i denna blogg då det är vår ”kärlek” inom idrottspsykologin. Om du vill lära dig mer om mentala föreställningar så köp vår bok Träna tanken – en bok om mentala föreställningar i idrotten. 

Self-Talk är en dialog med sig själv antingen tyst mentalt eller högt för sig själv i syfte att tolka känslor förändra beteende, känslor eller tankar. Detta är alltså kort och koncist alla gånger du har pratat med dig själv. Du kan nu vara lugn är inte galen utan du har bara använt dig av Self-Talk. Detta är en mycket bra metod och kan fördelaktigt användas tillsammans med visualisering!

Målsättning är kanske det mest välkända begreppet inom idrottspsykologin. De flesta idrottare vet att det är viktigt med målsättningsarbete. Dock är det inte välkänt utan anledning. Det är en otrolig kraft i målsättning!

Detta var en kort genomgång av några begrepp inom idrottspsykologin och målet är att det ska komma fördjupande texter om dessa på just denna unika blogg!

Håll till godo och glöm inte att vara rädd om hjärnan och bär cykelhjälm!


Bandura, A. (1997). The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and actions: A social cognitive theory. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Gill, D., L., & Williams, L (2007). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
Nideffer, R.M., & Segal, M. (2001). Concentration and attention control training. In J.M.Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (4th ed , pp. 312-332). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
Vealey, R.S. (2001) Understand and enhancing self-confidence in athletes. In R.N. Singer, H.A Hausenblas & C.M. Janelle (Eds), Handbook of Sport Psychology, 550 –565,New York: Wiley.
Weinberg, R. S. & Gould, D. (2003/2007). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology.Champaign: Human Kinetics.

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