Human Performance | Sep 25, 2014
It’s All in the Mind

Experts John Sullivan and Amy Athey explore the critical factors to consider in properly integrating human performance technology and second generation sports psychology.

1. Inform coaches

Clinical sports psychologists can assist coaches to understand where the athlete is in the developmental cycle. By integrating sport science data, they can advise coaches on the optimal points to intervene in a strategic and tactical fashion.

2. Educate and empower athletes

Clinical sport psychologists help athletes to increase their ability to identify and master strategies to improve their own rest and recovery efforts. There are more stories out on the pitch than the score tells. Feedback loops are helpful ways for athletes to learn to master ideal performance states, as well as identify rest and recovery needs both between events, and even within a single event.

3. Identify and develop talent:

Second-generation sport psychology moves beyond simply assessing personality factors. Although helpful at times, these are not precise enough to create accurate prediction factors. Second-generation sport psychology talent identification involves directly reading accurate descriptors from the central nervous system and the brain’s abilities, including effective decision-making and complex reaction time. Often, this information is less about selection and more about improving player development by increasing coaching efficiency and shortening learning curves.

4. Wellness as a foundation to performance

Clinical sport psychologists are trained to identify areas of reduced welfare that can lead to injury or decreased performance, in addition to strategically training the central nervous system. Treating the player as a whole helps to maximise readiness, performance and reduce the risk of injury, protecting the investment in the player at the same time.


Dr. John P. Sullivan is a Clinical Sport Psychologist and Applied Sport Scientist for Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and within the ranks of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLS, Olympics, and the elite performers of military.


Athey is a Clinical and Sport Psychologist at Clinical and Sports Consulting Services.

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