Relationship between elite athletes’ psychological skills and their training in those skills

Eythor I. Einarsson, Hafrún Kristjánsdóttir, Jose M. Saavedra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The objectives of this study were (i) to analyse how differences in psychological skills among elite athletes depend on sex and psychological skills training (PST), and (ii) to identify predictors of whether an elite athlete has sought PST. Three hundred and ninety-six Icelandic members of youth and senior national teams (49.2% men 21.4 ± 7.1 years old) in basketball, equestrian sports, football, golf, handball and weightlifting participated in the study. The participants completed a background information questionnaire and the Test of Performance Strategies questionnaire (TOPS). The former collected information about age, sex, sport practiced, and whether or not the respondent used or was interested in using PST. The latter assessed the psychological skills the respondent used in training and competition. An independent-samples t-test was used to compare the means on the TOPS sub-scales between sexes and between the use or not of PST. A forward stepwise logistic regression model was constructed to determine which of the variables (age, sex and TOPS sub-scales) could predict whether or not the sportsperson had used PST. PST was used by 42% of the respondents, but the 90% were interested in this type of training. Golfers used PST the most (56%), and men used PS more than women, especially in competition. It was possible to correctly classify 59% of the cases (23% of the variance explained) as to whether or not the participant used PST using just five variables: relaxation in practice, negative thinking in competition, age, self-talk in competition and imagery in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalNordic Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 The Editors of Nordic Psychology.

Other keywords

  • athletes
  • performance
  • psychological skills
  • training


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