Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2021
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in PSYC 55.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories of sports psychology.
  • Application of theories and techniques of optimal performance.


Current theoretical perspectives in sports psychology, applications of theories and techniques of optimal performance, and experiential exercises related to psychological factors that affect performance in sports, and in life. Topics include: goal setting, motivation, neuropsychology, physiology, stress vs. relaxation (arousal regulation), commitment, peak potential, focus/concentration, confidence, visualization, and hypnosis.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Define sports psychology and explain how sports psychology can benefit people involved in athletics and exercise
B. Explain the history of sports psychology
C. List and explain the job opportunities and job duties of a sports psychologist
D. Apply the ethics of sports psychology to case studies
E. Explain the relevance of multiculturalism in sports psychology
F. Explain theories of motivation and self-confidence and how they can impact performance in sports
G. Summarize how self-talk can be used to help performance
H. Explain goal perspective theory and how it relates to sports performance
I. Explain the cognitive aspects of sporting performance such as causal attributions, goal setting, and imagery
J. Explain the relationship between sporting performance and motivation and how to foster intrinsic motivation
K. Analyze the physiological aspects of sports, including anxiety, stress, arousal, the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, and the adrenal response
L. Summarize the youth sport experience and explain the factors that are involved in participant and discontinuance of youth sports
M. Explain the relationship between arousal and performance in sports
N. Summarize information that can help athletes including relaxation techniques and coping strategies
O. Explain the factors for how teams can maximize performance and how performance can be hindered by teams
P. Summarize the information in the field on burnout in athletes
Q. Explain the pros of exercise physiologically and also cognitively
R. Analyze the effects of audiences on sports and the issues surround home court advantage
S. Explain the current issues involved in drug use among athletes

Course Content

A. Introduction to sports psychology
1. History of sports psychology
2. Professional organizations in sports psychology
3. Certification of sports psychologists
4. Job duties of a sports psychologist
5. Ethics in sports psychology
6. Multiculturalism in sports psychology
B. Motivation and self-confidence
1. Models of self-confidence
a. Bandura's theory
b. Harter's competence motivation theory
2. Developing self-confidence through self-talk
a. Categories of self-talk
b. Selecting self-talk statements
c. Specific uses of self-talk
3. Psychological momentum in sports
a. Models of psychological momentum
4. Gender and self-confidence
C. Goal perspective theory
1. Achievement goal orientations
2. Developmental nature of goal orientation
3. Measuring goal orientations
4. Goal involvement
5. Motivational climate
6. Research and goal perspective theory
a. Self-handicapping and goal orientations
D. Causal attribution in sports
1. The attribution model
2. Causal attributions in competitive situations
a. Perceived causality and emotional response
b. Internal/external attributions
c. Stability considerations
3. Attributional training
4. Egocentrism in attribution
E. Developing intrinsic motivation in sports
1. An integrated theory of motivation in sports
a. Social factors
b. Psychological mediators
c. Motivation
d. Consequences of motivation
2. Cognitive evaluation theory
3. FLOW: The psychology of optimal experience
F. Goal setting in sports
1. Basic types of goals and their effectiveness
a. Outcome goals
b. Performance goals
c. Process goals
2. Reasons goal setting results in improved performance
a. Directed attention
b. Effort mobilization
c. Persistence
d. Development of new learning strategies
3. Principles of goal setting
a. Make goals specific, measurable and observable
b. Clearly identify time constraints
c. Use moderately difficult goals
d. Write goals down and regularly monitor progress
e. Set team as well as individual performance goals
f. Set practice as well as competitive goals
g. Make sure goals are internalized by the athlete
4. A team approach to setting goals
a. The planning phase
b. The meeting phase
c. The evaluation phase
5. Common goal-setting pitfalls
a. Poorly written goals
b. Failure to devise a goal-attainment strategy
c. Failure to follow a goal-attainment strategy
d. Failure to monitor performance progress
e. Discouragement
G. Youth sports
1. Benefits of youth sports
2. Potential negative factors associated with the youth sports experience
3. Why do youth withdraw from sports
4. Training volunteer coaches
5. Coaching behavior assessment system
H. Neurophysiology of arousal
1. Major divisions of the nervous system
2. Central nervous system
3. Autonomic nervous system
4. The adrenal stress response
5. Electrophysiological indicators of arousal
I. Attention and concentration in sports
1. Information processing
2. Memory systems
a. Sensory memory
b. Short-term memory
c. Long-term memory
3. Selective attention
4. Limited information processing
5. Attentional narrowing
6. When athletes are in the zone
7. Attentional control training
8. Associative vs. dissociative attentional style
J. Personality and the athlete
1. Personality defined
2. Theories of personality
a. Psychodynamic
b. Social learning theory
c. Humanistic theory
d. Trait theory
3. The measurement of personality
a. Rating scales
b. The unstructured projective tests
4. Structured questionnaires
5. Personality and sports performance
a. Personality sports type
b. Player position and personality profile
c. Personality profile of athletes differing in skill level
K. Mood state and athletic performance
1. Measurement of mood states
2. Research and the profile of mood states
3. The interactional model
L. Anxiety, arousal and stress relationships
1. Differentiating among anxiety, arousal, and stress
a. Emotions and mood
b. The stress process
2. Multidimensional nature of anxiety
3. The antecedence of precompetitive state anxiety
4. Measurement of anxiety
5. The relationship between arousal and athletic performance
a. The Yerkes-Dodson theory
b. Drive theory
M. Alternatives to the inverted U theory
1. Martin's multidimensional anxiety theory
2. Fazey's and Harde's catastrophe theory
3. Hann's individual zone of optimal functioning theory
4. Jone's directionality theory
5. Apter's reversal theory
N. Coping strategies in sports
1. Conceptual framework for coping strategies in sports
2. Measurement of coping skill
3. The dynamic nature of coping styles
4. Factors that enhance the generalizability of coping
5. Coping strategies used by elite athletes
O. Relaxation strategies for sports
1. Progressive relaxation
2. Autogenic training
3. Meditation
4. Biofeedback training
P. Arousal energizing strategies for sports
1. Team energizing strategies
a. Team goal setting
b. Pep talks
c. Bulletin boards
d. Publicity in news coverage
e. Fan supports
f. The pregame workout
Q. Imagery and sports performance
1. Defining imagery
2. Mental practice as a form of imagery
3. Theories of why imagery works
a. Psychoneuromuscular
b. Symbolic learning theory
c. Attention and arousal set theory
4. Imagery perspective and sensory mode
5. Conceptual models for studying imagery
a. Paivio's two dimensional model
b. The four Ws of imagery use
6. Developing imagery skills
7. Cognitive behavioral intervention programs
a. Visual motor behavioral rehearsal
b. Stress inoculation training
c. Stress management training
R. The role of hypnosis in sports
1. Theories of hypnosis
2. Facts about hypnosis
3. Achieving the hypnotic trance
S. Psychological skills training
1. Effectiveness of psychological interventions
2. Psychological skills training programs
3. Ethics in sports psychology
T. Aggression and violence in sports
1. Theories of aggression
a. Instinct theory
b. Social learning theory
c. Reformulated frustration aggression theory
2. The catharsis effect
3. Measurement of aggression
4. Fan violence
5. Effects of aggression on performance
6. Situational factors in a sports setting
7. Reducing aggression in sports
U. Audience and crowd effect in sports
1. Social facilitation
2. Effects of an interactive audience
a. Why is there home-court advantage?
b. When is there a home-court disadvantage?
3. Audience characteristics
4. Home court advantage and team quality
5. Player perceptions of home court advantage
V. Team cohesion in sports
1. Defining characteristics of team cohesion
a. Task and social cohesion
b. Direct and indirect measurement of cohesion
2. A conceptual model of team cohesion
3. Determinants of team cohesion
4. Consequences of team cohesion
a. Athletic performance
b. Improving group self-efficacy
c. Predicting future participation
5. Development of team cohesion
a. Team cohesion as a process
b. Team building
W. Leadership in sports
1. Theories of leadership
a. Universal trait theories of leadership
b. Universal behavior theories of leadership
c. Fielder's contingency theory
d. Situation-specific behaviors of leadership
2. Coach athlete compatibility
3. Player position, leadership opportunity and stacking
X. Exercise psychology
1. Psychological benefits of exercise
2. Theoretical explanations for the relationship between exercise and improved mental health
3. Exercise adherents and determinants
4. Theories of exercise behavior
5. Fitness as a moderator of life stress
6. The immune system cancer HIV and exercise
7. Exercise addiction
8. Eating disorders and exercise anxiety
9. Social physique anxiety, physical self-concept, and body image
Y. Burn out in athletes
1. Defining burn out and other related terms
2. Models of burnout
a. Stress models of burnout in sports
b. Investment model of burnout
c. Empowerment model of burnout
3. Symptoms of burnout and interventions
a. Measurement of burnout and coping strategies
b. Measurement of mood states
c. Recommended interventions
Z. The psychology of athletic injuries
1. Psychological predictors of athletic injury
a. Personality factors
b. History of stressors
c. Coping resources
d. Interventions
2. Psychological response to injury and rehabilitation
a. Rehabilitation and the behavioral response to injury
b. The impact of athletic injury upon retirement
c. Benefits associate with sustaining and recovering from athletic injury
AA. Drug abuse in sport and exercise
1. Psychophysiological effects of certain banned substances
a. Anabolic steroids
b. Stimulants
c. Depressants
d. Other banned drugs
e. Creatine use by athletes
2. Position statement of the NSCA
3. Combating drug use in sports
a. Cognitive techniques
b. Behavioral techniques

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as an online distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous internet and email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Multiple choice quizzes
Essay exams
Research papers
Summaries and analysis of primary source research articles
Personal reaction papers
Problem-solving exercises
Final exams

Method(s) of Instruction

In-class readings
Class discussion
Active learning and group activities

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Weinberg, Robert. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7th ed.. 2018.

Williams, Jean. Applied Sport Psychology: Personal Growth to Peak Performance, 8th ed.. 2021.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading and studying of textbook
B. Reading and critically analyzing primary source research articles
C. Reading current event articles that relate to prejudice and discrimination
D. Writing research papers
E. Writing essay exam questions
F. Writing personal reaction papers