Published on 01 November 2021

What Is Performance Psychology?

Performance Psychology what-is-performance-psychology
Table of Contents

Wilhelm Wundt can also be credited for contributing to human performance studies when he examined reaction times and mental processes in 1879. Performance psychology research accelerated from the early days, Despite barriers and delays due to world wars. 

Back in the history of our disciplines, while sport, training, and performance psychology have grown and developed as precise disciplines in Europe, sports and exercise psychology studies appear to be more potent than performance psychology.

However, Human Performance, which refers to the psychological factors of optimal human behavior and performance, is what we are concerned with here.

What Is Performance Psychology?

Performance psychology is a branch of psychology that examines psychological factors that influence optimal human performance. Performance psychologists may use several terms to describe the study and methodology.

Umbrella terms such as performance psychology, human performance, performance science, peak performance, and so on are often used interchangeably to define this phenomenon.

What Does Performance Psychology Focus On?

It focuses on disciplines such as sports, business, and surgical or creative pursuits. The endorsed principles of performance psychology assist professionals in delivering optimized results under extreme pressure.

However, this growing domain of study and practice comprises many different research domains, including Psychology, Physiology, Biomechanics, Sociology, Performance Analytics, Strength & Conditioning, and Rehabilitation.

Frequently asked questions

Performance Psychology aims to deal with the barriers that come along the way, to build resilience and optimum performance when tackling the obstacles ahead.
Psychology helps athletes concentrate, work harder, deal with complicated problems, and practice and train more effectively.
Factors that Affect human performance are lack of knowledge, distraction, lack of communication, pressure, and no teamwork.

Who Was Performance Psychology Developed For?

Those who have taken part in sport, no matter the level, held the life of another human being in their hands in surgery, performed on stage on a big night, or undergone the scrutiny of academic assessment, can apprehend the importance of performing to a high level of proficiency under intense pressure.

When the stakes are held high, the demand on the performer increases to heights those of us outside the bubble cannot fathom. That said, elite performers must learn and develop means to overcome and cope with the associated stress of these high-pressure situations. Here's where the Psychology of Human Performance plays an important role.

  • Psychological Components of Performance.

Complex human behavior and performance can be evaluated, influenced, and improved by many psychological approaches, and subdisciplines of psychology have been exploring these individual elements for some time. For instance, psychology broadly describes individual emotion, cognition, perception, and action complexities.

The cognitive aspects include attention, memory, language processing, problem-solving, and many more. From a clinical point of view, researchers may be interested in these factors where they are beyond normal functioning, as well as from a social psychology perspective wherein social dimensions are essential. The Performance Psychology coach may seek to link these separated psychological subfields to explain and improve human performance.

  • Techniques Used in Performance Psychology.

Mental resiliency is the ability to remain calm under pressure while staying confident, focused, and in control. It is also the ability to cope with high expectations and demands and get back up after a failure.

In other words, what distinguishes a world-class athlete from an average/underperforming one is the unbreakable belief in one's own capabilities. These character traits cannot be acquired overnight and take a lot of hard work, intense introspection, and possibly the mentorship of a performance psychologist.

Common Techniques Of Psychologists

Mental Grit is the ability to adapt to a difficult situation and remain focused and in control. It is also beneficial to cope with the fall. What distinguishes a world-class athlete from another athlete is the unshakable belief in one’s abilities. 

These character traits cannot be acquired overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, some intense inner reflection, and the mentorship of a performance psychologist. Some of the Techniques used by performance psychologists include:

  • Attention control training 
  • Conflict resolution
  • Visualization techniques
  • Goal setting
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Self-talk
  • Through pattern awareness and changes

Who Needs Performance Psychologists?

Performance psychologists aim to inspire and equip people to achieve their highest potential. While some other areas of psychology focus on past troubles or solutions to present problems, performance psychology is much more future-focused.

In this regard, performance psychology helps people better themselves with practical solutions and inspires them to better themselves. This two-pronged approach of training and inspiration is effective in working with people from diverse backgrounds and in helping people meet highly various life goals.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solution

The pursuit of perfection can drive many of us to perform exceptionally. However, this pursuit can often come at a high cost to our mental and emotional health. Success is enjoyable as long as it lasts, and the pursuit of higher highs can often result in emotional burnout or lasting depression or Anxiety.

In fields of elite performance requirements, injury, physical pain, and even emotional pain can be inevitable factors. But it isn't the environmental conditions or the experience that should determine our performance or emotional well-being. The key is the way we react to distressing situations.

A deeper sense of self is required to withstand the turmoil of pressurizing work. The performance psychologist helps the individual compose a stable self under high-pressure situations.