Development of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Development of Sport and Exercise Psychology

In most countries, the evolution of sport psychology (and later exercise psychology, as well) occurred almost exclusively within departments of physical education, kinesiology, or leisure studies. Earliest research done by physical educators, not psychologists, were theoretical attempts to understand the psychological benefits derived from physical activity (Wiggins, 1986). In North America, for example, in 1895, Reverend William Augustus Stearn, president of Amherst College, wrote that a moderate amount of daily physical exercise would preserve lives and health, promote animation and cheerfulness, and secure intellectual life (Leonard & Affleck, 1947). In 1898, Kellor wrote that playing games directed women’s minds into new channels, produced enthusiasm, activity, and energy, and generally, a person reflected, reasoned, observed, and engaged in various mental processes (Kellor, 1898).
As sport psychology evolved, it underwent changes in terms of research interests and approaches to study behavior. Beyond the psychological advantages from vigorous physical training programs, it explored other benefits. It promoted the idea that mental and moral culture was not an end in itself (Hall, 1908). Especially after the 1960s, sport psychology integrated components of motor learning research. The pioneers, whose contributions may be traced back to the 1920s, were Carl Diem of Germany, Coleman Griffith of the United States, and A.Z. Puni of the Soviet Union (Salmela, 1984). In North America, the move from laboratory research to fieldwork was the beginning of the area of applied sport psychology. In Eastern Europe, the focus was initially on performance enhancement, especially for elite athletes.

The first sport psychology organizations in North America were the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA), and the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (CSPLSP), which were formed in 1967 and 1977 respectively (Wiggins, 1984). Further developments in the field brought about other organizations, such as theAssociation for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) in 1985, andDivision 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) within the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1986.
In recent years, sport psychology has become broader by including exercise and fitness into its research, education, and consultancy. Consulting with individual athletes or athletic teams to develop psychological skills for enhancing competitive performance and training are no longer the only tasks sport psychology consultants engage in. Many sport psychologists also work with coaches, and most recently, sport and exercise psychologists now work in the fitness industry, as well (Weinberg & Gould, 1995). Here, they help individuals design exercise programs that maximize participation and promote physical, as well as mental, health and well-being. And sometimes, consultants support a sports medicine or physical therapy program, providing psychological services to injured athletes.
Development of Sport and Exercise Psychology Development of Sport and Exercise Psychology Reviewed by mabelinter on avril 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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