In 1898, Norman Triplett conducted a study on bicycle racing and observed that cyclists tend to have better performance times when riding in the presence of another cyclist as opposed to riding alone. Triplett’s study, considered the first in the sport psychology domain, has since expanded into various subdomains. Over the past century, the sport psychology domain has attracted an impressive quantity and quality of work from psychologists and kinesiologists alike. Today, there is a general agreement that sport psychology is a scientific and applied domain, particularly centered on advancing knowledge about (a) expertise acquisition in sports, (b) perceptual-cognitive mechanisms of skilled performance, (c) group dynamics, (d) socio-cognitive issues in sports, and (e) applied sport psychology (Eklund and Tenenbaum 2014, cited under General Textbooks). The aim herein is to present these five important subdomains by highlighting key publications that have shaped the sport psychology domain over the past several decades. We begin by introducing the General Textbooks, Journals, and Position Stands from Professional Organizations, which together cover the broad structure of sport psychology. The five subsequent sections are devoted to the subdomains in which most of the research efforts in the sport psychology domain have been concentrated. We conclude by forecasting new trends in the field.
Readers interested in developing a deep understanding of the sport psychology domain are initially directed to key handbooks in the area. The following references represent some of the most comprehensive books written to date. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology (Weinberg and Gould 2015) is an excellent overview of the field and has been widely used in introductory sport psychology courses around the world. The recently published Routledge Companion to Sport and Exercise Psychology: Global Perspectives and Fundamental Concepts (Papaioannou and Hackfort 2014) is a rich source of information on the fundamental concepts in the field. Handbook of Sport Psychology (Tenenbaum and Eklund 2007) features thorough chapters written by leading scholars in the various sport psychology disciplines and is recommended for professors, advanced graduate students, or anyone interested in pursuing a career in sport psychology. Measurement in Sport and Exercise Psychology (Tenenbaum, et al. 2012) is another important book for professionals, as it provides an in-depth discussion of an array of methods (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, and bio-neurofeedback) used in sport psychology. The Routledge Handbook of Applied Sport Psychology (Hanrahan and Andersen 2011) is an important reference for readers interested in peak performance in sports and covers counseling and therapeutic models and tools, as well as individual and team guidelines for performance enhancement in sports. Finally, the recently published Encyclopedia of Sport and Exercise Psychology (Eklund and Tenenbaum 2014) presents over 300 objective and detailed entries exploring key theories and implications of sport psychology research and practice. This encyclopedia is a reference source for those interested in mastering the area. Noteworthy, the list below is not exhaustive, and other influential sources exist. Information about past and present books, as well as forthcoming publications, is often made available in The Sport Psychologist journal (available by subscription in print or online, particularly in the “Book Review” section.
Eklund, Robert C., and Gershon Tenenbaum, eds. 2014. Encyclopedia of sport and exercise psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Featuring over 300 topics, this encyclopedia is a compendium of the field of sport and exercise psychology.
Hanrahan, Stephanie J., and Mark B. Andersen, eds. 2011. Routledge handbook of applied sport psychology: A comprehensive guide for students and practitioners. New York: Routledge.
This handbook is a compilation of theories, counseling techniques, and mental skills aimed at performance enhancement in sports.
Papaioannou, Athanasios G., and Dieter Hackfort, eds. 2014. Routledge companion to sport and exercise psychology: Global perspectives and fundamental concepts. New York: Routledge.
This is a broad and encompassing textbook including sixty-two chapters on the various issues of sport psychology. The chapters were written by leading scholars from around the world.
Tenenbaum, Gershon, and Robert C. Eklund, eds. 2007. Handbook of sport psychology. 3d ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Aimed toward advanced scholars, the thirty-nine chapters in this book cover the main contemporary theoretical and methodological issues in the field.
Tenenbaum, Gershon, Robert C. Eklund, and Akihito Kamata, eds. 2012. Measurement in sport and exercise psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Geared toward advanced readers, this book covers measurement approaches and techniques used in sport and exercise psychology, including quantitative, qualitative, and biofeedback principles.
Weinberg, Robert Stephen, and Daniel Gould. 2015. Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. 6th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
This introductory-level textbook offers an excellent overview of well-established topics within the sport psychology domain.
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