Empowering strategies used in Sports Psychology


As someone who currently works as a Coach and before this came from a teaching background, I have always had a fascination with the psychology surrounding achievement and motivation.  Why do some people seem to consistently hit their goals whilst others find it much more challenging? The answer is rarely going to be a simple one and there can be a thousand possible reasons that need to be explored. One important factor that has been shown to count is whether the individual finds their environment empowering. The more empowered an athlete feels, the more motivated  they are to keep putting in the effort consistently over time, the more likely they will be successful in achieving whatever it is that they wish to achieve.

The strategies within Sports psychology are not just important for coaches or teachers but it's principles are relevant for anyone working in a team environment, even if you do not participate in sport. The best companies out there are well aware of the motivational tools required to get the best out of their staff and I'm sure quite a few of us have had experience of working for companies who were not so informed!

The big three strategies that have been shown to facilitate an empowering environment will help to promote; 

-  Autonomy

- Belonging

- Competence

As an individual who wishes to improve in a specific area of life we should also look at these strategies when we  analyse our own achievement. 

Obviously nobody is exempt from having a bad day, life throws random stuff at us all the time that really is completely out of our control. This may affect our ability to communicate, behave or even just think the way that we would prefer to. It is impossible to feel on form 100% of the time and mistakes will happen, so I think the main thing is to be aware of the ideal and then just do the best you can do at the time!



Autonomy:  Having the capacity to make your own decisions Strategies; - Encouraging everyone to share ideas and help decide aspects within the training session and providing meaningful training choices - Explaining the relevance and benefits of each activity - Promote fun and enjoyment 

Belonging: Seeing the value of the group Strategies; - Encouraging participants to work together and give feedback to each other - Athletes should feel that their role in the group is important - Coaches must take a real interest in the athlete's life outside of the sport

Competence: Creating an environment that promotes progression Strategies; - Improvement is nurtured by supplying athlete's with frequent constructive feedback after both failure or success - Coaches teach athletes the value of making mistakes in order to be able to learn from them and create an environment where they feel comfortable to make errors - Where possible, activities are planned to challenge athletes



It is well worth taking the time to look at the different environments that you are most frequently exposed to when planning how to achieve your goals, including how you treat yourself. Are these environments suitable for achievement? If not then what can you do to change them? It doesn't matter whether you want to become an elite athlete, achieve top marks in a subject, be a successful manager or you are just trying to lose a bit of weight, these environments will affect your ability to succeed. 

Ryan Fearn - Canterbury Strength Coach


C.J. Knight, C.G. Harwood, D. Gould (2018) Sports Psychology For Young Athletes. Routledge. London.