Psychology in Sports Coaching : Theory and Practice book cover
2nd Edition

Psychology in Sports Coaching
Theory and Practice

ISBN 9781138701878
Published May 25, 2017 by Routledge
294 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Some of the most effective coaches understand the fundamentals of sport psychology, which include interacting effectively with athletes, creating the optimal environment, assessing the psychological needs of their athletes, and even providing them with the mental training required to maximise performance.

Fully revised and updated, the second edition of Psychology in Sports Coaching: Theory and Practice clearly and accessibly introduces the principles and practice of sport psychology in the context of the coaching process. Drawing on the very latest research and theory, the book introduces the psychological tools and techniques that coaches can use to get the best performances out of their athletes.

Including six new chapters on applying self-determination principles in coaching, creating the optimal motivational climate, increasing motivation, developing anti-doping attitudes, promoting challenge states, and mindfulness-based stress reduction training, the book also offers step-by-step guidance on key topics such as:

  • Assessing the needs of athletes
  • Facilitating awareness through goal-setting and performance profiling
  • Working with special populations, including children and injured athletes
  • Building team cohesion
  • Maximising relationships and socially supporting athletes
  • Teaching mental skills such as imagery and coping
  • Building mental toughness and confidence.

Every chapter contains useful features to aid learning and understanding, including in-depth case studies, critical thinking questions, clear and concise summaries, and practice exam questions. Psychology in Sports Coaching: Theory and Practice is essential reading for any student of sports coaching or any practising coach looking to extend and develop their skills, and useful applied reading for students of sport psychology.

Table of Contents


Part I: Providing Sport Psychology as a Coach

1. Introduction to Sport Psychology, Ethics, Referrals, and the HCPC

Part II: Identifying the Psychological Needs of Athletes

2. Conducting Intake Interviews

3. Using Questionnaires to Assess the Needs of Athletes

Part III: Facilitating Awareness

4. Goal Setting

5. Performance Profiling

Part IV: Coaching Different Populations

6. Coaching Children

7. Coaching Adolescents

8. Coaching Adults

9. Coaching Athletes with Learning Disabilities

10. Providing Psychological Support to an Injured Athlete

Part V: Relationships, Support, and Influence within Coaching

11. The Coach-Athlete Relationship

12. Understanding and Building Team Cohesion

13. Socially Supporting Athletes Effectively

14. Enhancing Motivation among Athletes

15. Creating the optimal motivational climate

16. Applying Self-Determination Theory to Enhance Coaching Practice

17. Promoting Anti-Doping Attitudes Among Athletes

Part VI: Developing Mental Skills among Athletes

18. Mental Imagery

19. Mental Toughness Training

20. Maximising Sport Confidence

21. Coping Effectiveness Training

22. Enhancing Challenge States and Minimising Threat States among athletes

23. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Training

24. Preventing Choking Under Pressure in Sport



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Adam R. Nicholls is a Reader in the Department of Sport, Health, and Exercise Science at the University of Hull, UK. He teaches a variety of modules relating to sport psychology and incorporating sport psychology within coaching practice. His primary research is related to stress, appraisal, and coping among athletes, which is reflected in his publications. Recently he developed an interest in attitudes towards doping, particularly among adolescent athletes and coaches. This work is funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee, and the European Commission: Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. He is a chartered psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He is also a Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Psychology, and sits on the editorial board for the International Journal of Sport Psychology.


"The domain of sports psychology is often underplayed in terms of coach education and development, however many of the topics highlighted in this book represent key knowledge areas that can help us as coaches to address the genuine needs of athletes. By understanding more in the field of psychology, we can help to create both relationships and environments that allow us to support individuals to achieve their potential in the sports that they play."

Andy Rock, Academy Director, Bath Rugby, UK

"Dr Nicholl’s text showcases an excellent array of applied psychological perspectives in the specialist domain of sport coaching. The updated chapters are truly reflective of the emerging conceptualisation of sport coaching and offers coaches, students, administrators and academics alike a realistic glimpse into the potential for enhancing our understanding of the uses of psychology in making a difference to coaching processes and practice."

Professor David Morley, Professor of Youth Sport & Physical Activity and Head of the Academy of Sport & Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

"This second edition of Sports Coaching: Theory and Practice provides practical insight and guidance for coaches and athletes in a sporting environment. The applied nature of this book is why it is such an important read and resource for coaches and athletes alike."

Dr Colin Sanctuary, Head of Physical Development, Newcastle Knights RL, Australia