In focussing on the relationship between cognition and sports performance, sports psychology is following a trend evident in other areas in psychology. Sports psychology research has borrowed conceptually and methodologically from cognitive-behavioural researchers within clinical psychology. This article reviews five areas of research: imagery; self talk; self efficacy; attentional focus and concentration; and decision making. Of these topics, imagery has attracted the most research interest, and strategies of mental rehearsal are frequently used by athletes.
Attempts to apply the theories of self talk and self efficacy to sports performance appear promising. The self efficacy research has demonstrated that expectations of success influence performance. As yet, little attention has been paid to the second part of Bandura's theory: the effect of outcome expectations on performance.
The sporting environment is often complex with the athlete frequently required to make numerous decisions. Decision making has been studied in a range of settings (e.g., medical decision making, jury decisions etc.) but has been largely ignored by sports psychologists. Issues relating to the decision making of the athlete are discussed.