Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Sport helping create psychological flexibility for athletes

Welcome to an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for improving sport performance.

The Sport Lifeline

At times, we al have difficult feelings, sensations and emotions in life. These can ultimately lead us in a direction that moves athletes away from what's most important in their sport. This is what makes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy different (ACT). Rather than avoiding anxiety, depression and difficulties - resulting in life shrinking away, we actively pursue living a fulfilled life instead, which means people will experience anxiety, stress and depression, while moving in the right direction. After all, we are only human, right?

Watch this clip of The Sport Lifeline, which explains the value driven path and the avoidance driven path with athletes. Are you willing to experience some discomfort in pursuit of what's most important to you in sport?

Part of creating psychological flexibility is to learn defusion or unhooking from difficult thoughts. If athletes try to suppress thoughts, it creates a rebound, resulting in more thoughts. For example, try this - don't think of a pink elephant!

What are you thinking about?

Sometimes we let our thoughts impact our performance.

The weight lifter thinking "I cant do this, I'm not strong enough", the striker thinking "I'm going to miss". Athletes can become entangled with their thoughts, but they can learn to see thoughts as just thoughts, and realise they are not always literally true with a capital T, allowing their thoughts to move freely like balloons in the sky - enhancing psychological flexibility.

Watch the ACT Matrix below and see how your thoughts, feelings and sensations impact your behaviour choices as an athlete.

The Anxiety Monster

Anxiety is inevitably going to show up at some point as an athlete and ACT helps you to embrace it, accept its normal and to chose behaviours that move you towards what's most important. Some athletes fight anxiety and try to get rid of it, however the video below explains what can happen if we struggle against it.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has many different tools and skills that you can learn to help 'free you up' from anxiety so that you can perform to your best.

Register and thoughts, bodily sensations and feelings

Release yourself from these difficult thoughts and feelings

Refocus on your game plan and value driven path

Goal Setting

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timed.
Committed Action towards your goals

"My goal was to lose 2 stone, I fell off the wagon a few times, but now I have achieved my goal"

A goal has an end point, a value is a direction. In ACT, we help you set goals that move you towards your values using the S.M.A.R.T. process. We are human, and sometimes we might slip off the road, however in ACT we encourage you to recommit again.

As a sports psychology specialist I can help with the following and more...

Dealing with Covid-19 and training

Injury set backs

Performance Anxiety

Confidence issues

Managing negative thinking

Created By
Stephen Renwick


Created with images by Jakob Owens - "untitled image" • Hello I'm Nik 🎞 - "A quote that couldn’t be truer." • Rob Wingate - "Tour de France" • Jesper Aggergaard - "thinking at squat rack" • Jeffrey F Lin - "Emily and Mal dueling it out" • ian dooley - "All Rise" • Lesly Juarez - "“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh" • Bruno Nascimento - "untitled image" • Natasha Connell - "untitled image" • Jonathan Chng - "Sprinting away" • George Pagan III - "untitled image" • Nicolas Hoizey - "Shot during 34th international Elite athletics meeting in Montgeron-Essonne (France), Sunday, May 13th, 2018"