Tag: Premier Sport Psychology

It takes many qualities to be an Olympian; passion, determination, motivation, commitment, discipline and consistency to name a few. One important mental skill that can often be overlooked in Olympic athletes’ is mental toughness.

Mental toughness is described as the ability to cope with pressure, adversity and stress (Bull, 1996). After spending a lifetime of training and perfecting form for a single opportunity to compete in an Olympic games, Olympians can understandably feel an intense amount of pressure and stress when it comes time for their final performance. Research shows that athletes achieve the best performance results when they have more mental toughness, as measured by commonly associated attributes (Bull, 1996).

Mental strength and awareness influences many underlying mechanisms that operate in a combination to achieve a successful mindset and performance outcome. Every practice and competition begins with the way an athlete thinks and what their mindset is focused on. The quality of our thoughts is critical and can often attribute to our success or our shortcomings.

Being able to perform under pressure, such as competing at the 2018 Olympics, involves years of concentration, determination, and stability of a positive attitude to obtain mental strength. Just like practicing physical skills, practicing mental skills such as dealing with stress, performance setbacks, bad weather conditions or fatigue can impact performance. The quality of an Olympian that makes them so successful is that regardless of any implications standing in their way, they stand in the face of adversity and remain confident in their skills.  

Mental toughness is a skill any athlete can acquire that can help to positively influence performance. Studies conducted at Staffordshire University showed that athletes with high levels of confidence and control reported feeling less physical discomfort during competition and higher levels of concentration than those who had less confidence (Hamilton, 2015). This evidence supports the importance of mental toughness for performance and how significant it is to believe in yourself and your abilities.



Bull, S. J., Albinson, J. G., & Shambrook, C. J. (1996). The mental game plan: Getting psyched for sport. Eastbourne, UK: Sports Dynamics.

Hamilton, M. (2015) “How Much Does Mental Toughness Affect Race Times?” Runner’s World, 26 May 2015, www.runnersworld.com/newswire/how-much-does-mental-





If you live in Minnesota, odds are you know Super Bowl VII will be held at US Bank stadium on February 4th. What you may not know is the driving force behind these teams that makes them so successful. Motivation style plays a huge role in performance outcome. Is it more important to have a drive to win or a drive to improve?

Any team that has made it to the Super Bowl would say it is more important to win. What many teams do not know is that performance is linked to motivation style, and according to research athletes are more successful when they are motivated to improve rather than to win (Vallerand, 2012). Motivation purely to win can actually result in a poorer performance from the athlete due to pressure from uncontrolled outcomes.

Improvement may not be the main goal for many athletes or teams competing in the Super Bowl, however, it may be the key to victory. According to the Theory of Self-Determination, athletes perform better when they are intrinsically motivated, for example by a desire to improve, compared to being extrinsically motivated by an outcome such as wining (Cameron, 1999).

When athletes are extrinsically motivated it means their motivation comes from an outside source, such as winning. This may lead athletes to feel as though their behavior is controlled by external, material rewards like trophies, scholarships, or recognition. Therefore, their personal motivation level decreases and can lead to a loss of interest, value, and effort resulting in higher anxiety, poor sportsmanship, and decreased performance outcome (Vallerand, 2012). This being said, if an athlete plays in the Super Bowl with the mindset of wanting to win rather than wanting to improve, their performance can suffer and may cost them the game.

Intrinsic motivation is just the opposite; athletes participate in a sport for internal enjoyment and satisfaction through skill improvement and personal growth resulting in an increased confidence level, reduced stress from mistakes, and an overall higher satisfaction in the game (Vallerand, 2012). The behaviors associated with those who are intrinsically motivated are more self-determination and fulfillment in their sport (Cameron, 1999). These behaviors allow athletes to grow and improve their focus and performance without the worry of external factors such as the pressure of winning or any other outside expectations. These behaviors are related to growth mindset; the belief that abilities are developed through dedication and hard work.

The motivation style each team chooses can immensely influence the outcome of the game. Motivation is the force that drives athletes to succeed both physically and mentally and will be a key factor in the outcome of Super Bowl VII.



Amanda will be with Premier Sport Psychology for the spring of 2018 as our intern. Read below to learn more about Amanda!

Let’s start with a fun fact about yourself.
I’ve broken five different bones all in non-contact sports.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I think it would be really interesting to travel to Australia.

Do you prefer movies or Netflix?  
Both! I really like movies but a good show on Netflix is hard to beat.

What is the best show you’ve watched on Netflix?
Grey’s Anatomy, so interesting.

Chocolate or vanilla?
Definitely chocolate.

What is your favorite song?
Anything by Taylor Swift, she’s my favorite.

You are being sent to a deserted island you can bring one person and one item, who and what would you bring, and why?
I would bring my friend Anne and my dog Oliver since they both make me happy and we can have fun doing anything.

Favorite sport to play? How about to watch?
I like to play anything competitive, but if I had to pick I’d say running track. Favorite sport to watch is football.

What is your experience with sports?
Growing up I played soccer, swam, and danced until I was in middle school. Through high school I played volleyball, gymnastics, ran cross country and track and field. In college I competed in track and field at Winona State in the 100 High Hurdles, 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, and High jump.

What has drawn you to the sports psychology world?
I honestly really enjoy sports and the different mindset and motivation levels athletes have compared to other people. Experiencing certain injuries and recovering from them has also opened my mind to the different mental processes someone can go through. Being able to help and improve the mentality of other athletes to reach their goals really draws me to the field of sports psychology.

What is your educational background and future aspirations?
I graduated from Buffalo High School in 2013. In May of 2017, I graduated from Winona State University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Cellular Molecular Biology and immediately began the Master’s of Sports Psychology program through Capella University. In April, I am planning on graduating and pursuing a career in sports psychology or furthering my education in the field.