Sports psychology Books Back to Psych main

Sporting body, sporting mind
An athlete's guide to mental training
John Syer, Christopher Connoly
Simon & Schuster 1987 ISBN 0-671-6503-2

One of the classic texts for sportspeople. Written for the athlete, and stuffed with tricks and practice exercises to get your head sorted and cope with all kinds of competition stresses.
The Mental Game Plan
Getting Psyched for Sport
Stephen J Bull, John G Albinson, Christopher J Shambrook
Sports dynamics 1996 ISBN 0-9519543-2-6
Another book written for athletes. This one starts with a mental skills self-assessment that inspired the one on this site, and goes on from there to give techniques for improving across the board. Tightly structured, almost menu-driven with good practical advice from three professional sports psychologists.
Zen in the art of Archery
Eugen Herrigel

This one's about Zen, not Archery. It could as easily have been flower arranging. I hesitate to interpret this extraordinarily influential (and very readable) work, but it seems to me to do two things. First, it teaches an almost holistic vision of mind and body coordination. Second, it puts forward the principle that ideal performance flows cleanly from training and practice when free of fear and tension; one does not perform, but allows the performance to occur. It preaches perfection of control through the absence of control. And if that sounds weird, read it and find out.

The Inner Game of Tennis
Timothy Gallwey
Paperback: Pan Books, London 1986. ISBN 0-330-29513-6
The Inner Game of Golf
Timothy Gallwey
Paperback: Pan Books, London 1986. ISBN 0-330-29512-8



Why read a Tennis book? Or worse, one about Golf by a tennis pro?
These books are pretty far out from the hard psych world in terms of theories of mind. But the practical psychology that results is pretty good stuff. The Tennis book is from a performer's view, the Golf book is almost a Coach's book. Both come over as heavily influenced by Zen approaches - like Herrigel, the message is to get out of the way and let the body perform. But Gallwey has a lot of good coaching exerience under his belt, and he resulting approaches to skill learning, skill development and performance are sound stuff, and you can put it into practice on a daily basis.