The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences


What is Sport and Exercise Psychology?

“Sport and Exercise Psychology” is a title that encompasses a huge variety of theories that have been developed to explain how motivations, beliefs and emotions influence our behaviour plus the behaviour of individuals or members of groups in sport and exercise.

For information on routes to become a practising Sport and Exercise Psychologist in the UK click here

Sport Psychologists

Sport Psychologists are interested in:

  • Helping athletes to perform better, more consistently and, in many cases;
  • Improving the quality of experience of participation in sport;
  • Other issues such as career transitions (such as retirement), coach behaviour and communication skills.

Some sport psychologists are also trained in clinical psychology and are qualified to provide assistance with problems such as drug abuse and eating disorders.

Exercise Psychologists

Exercise Psychologists are more interested in helping people to become more active, more often. The goal driving this is not performance, but health and well-being. The link between physical activity and physical health – and the danger of a sedentary lifestyle - is well-documented. The psychological benefits of exercise, captured by the maxim “healthy body, healthy mind”, are such that physical activity and/or exercise are legitimate therapeutic interventions for some psychological disorders.

Many of the concepts that interest sport psychologists relate well to exercise psychology, with different emphasis. For example, where sport psychologist may be interested in achieving optimal motivational patterns for performance, exercise psychologists might be interested in why certain groups of people exercise less than others. Similarly, while self-confidence is key to performing under pressure, related concepts such as physical self-esteem can be an important influence on whether someone participates in exercise.

Psychology Related Links

The American Psychological Association
The APA is the licensing professional body for psychologists in North America.

The Australian Psychological Society
The APS is the equivalent Australian body to the APA and the BPS.

The Association for the Advancement for Applied Sport Psychology
AAASP is based in North America, but offers accreditation for applied sport psychology consultants around the world.

The British Olympic Association
The BOA is the organisation that is responsible for the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Olympic movement, which has its own register of sport psychologists. BASES has a Memorandum of Collaboration with the BOA.

The British Psychological Society
The BPS is the professional body that is responsible for the development of the discipline and maintenance of standards in the range of sub-disciplines across psychology (such as educational, occupation and clinical). The BPS does not yet offer chartered status in Sport or Exercise Psychology. BASES has a Memorandum of Collaboration with the BPS.

The European Federation of Sport Psychology
FEPSAC is a pan-European society, to which members of recognised home country bodies are automatically affiliated.

The International Society of Sport Psychology
ISSP is an organisation devoted to promoting research and development in the discipline of sport psychology throughout the world.

Psychology Related Journals

Journal of Applied Sport Psychology

Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Journal of Sport Behavior

Journal of Sport Sciences

Pediatric Exercise Science

Perceptual and Motor Skills

Psychology of Sport and Exercise 

The International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology

The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology

The Sport Psychologist

Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology