A2 PE Section B Sports Psychology

Revision notes on sports psychology for A2 Physical Education.

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Section B sports psychology
The increase in the use of psychologists in sport has enabled the field to develop into a separate
field of sport science. Sports psychology has developed from traditional psychology and aims to
aid optimum performance and minimize the negative impact of pressure. Many psychological
theories can be applied to sport to aid performance of individuals or groups.
The role of a sport psychologist is to:
prepare the performer mentally for performance
help performers concentrate and focus of the task
help the performers develop self belief and confidence
develop coping strategies for problems
help the team to work together to maximize potential
Learning theories
The learning theory is developmental and continuous and a key element in optimizing
There are three distinct phases of learning: Cognitive ­ forming a mental picture, associative ­
attempting and practicing and autonomous ­ performance with little or no thought.
Two ideas have been developed relating to learning ­ associations where we develop a link
between a stimulus and a response and cognitive where learning is a case of developing and
Associationist perspectives:
Pavlov, Thorndike, Skinner and Hull identified learning as a
sequence of linking situations with responses
Thorndike identified three laws: Law of exercise (repetition
of a response strengthens the link to the stimulus), Law of
effect ( A satisfier strengthens the link whilst and annoyer
weakens it), Law of readiness (the learner needs to be
physically and mentally prepared to learn.
Hull developed a drive theory where learning was done in
terms of needs and incentives
Pavlov developed the concept of classical conditioning
relating instinct responses and stimuli.
Skinner developed the concept of operant conditioning ­ the
moulding of behavior through rewards and punishments.
Cognitivist perspectives:
Cognitive theories see learning as a holistic function

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They suggest we learn by gaining an understanding of the
situation and selecting an appropriate response as opposed
to learning responses to stimuli.…read more

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The psychoanalytic approach suggests that we are driven by
instincts that lead us to behave in certain ways.
We may be driven by death instincts, destructive drives such
as aggression, life instincts, positive and creative drives such
as empathy.
Freud suggests that our mind is made up of three
components, the id ­ biological drive, the ego ­ self
preservation drive and the superego ­ ore drive to achieve
our ideal self.…read more


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