How to Excel at Work Using Sports Psychology

How to Excel at Work Using Sports Psychology

by Jelena D

Just because you don’t have a Heisman Trophy or a Super Bowl ring doesn’t mean that you can’t use the psychology of the pros. Using sports psychology to excel at work might mean the difference between a promotion and a demotion; at the very least, it will help you to focus your efforts in the right direction. Football, basketball and hockey players seem to have it right when it comes to settling into the proper mind frame, so here are a few ways in which you can use sports psychology to excel at work.


Even if your only experience with sports was in Little League, you’ve probably heard of the power of visualization. Sports psychology dictates that if you can imagine scoring the winning touchdown in your mind, you can make it happen in practice. To excel at work, use the visualization technique to imagine a future meeting with your boss or an important presentation.

Try to picture exactly how the meeting or presentation will go. See yourself talking and responding and listening and gesturing. You don’t have to know exactly what will be said; it’s simply important that you cover everything that needs to be done. If during your mental walk-through, you discover that you aren’t quite prepared on a certain point, you’ll know that you need to work on it before the big day. Using sports psychology isn’t all that difficult to understand in this context because the same rules apply.

Internal Dialogue

Have you ever watched sports on TV or at the stadium and noticed that one of the players seemed to be talking to himself? This is common in sports psychology because athletes understand the importance of internal dialogue. When you constantly coach yourself in your mind, focusing on something positive, your entire attitude improves.

To excel at work, use the internal dialogue sports psychology to keep yourself focused. Work toward something positive by constantly directing that little voice inside your head. Everyone has it, so don’t think that you have a mental disorder just because you talk to yourself. Internal dialogue is important because it can either help you or harm you.


Sports psychology incorporates hard practice with relaxation to target the perfect balance. To excel at work, you have to know when it’s time to behave like the Energizer Bunny — and when it’s time to relax. If you don’t give your body and mind an opportunity to recuperate, you’ll eventually burn yourself out. Instead, take time every day to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body; you’ll thank yourself later.


When you make a mistake at work, it can seem like the end of the world, but sports psychology has the solution. Pitchers, in particular, are prone to self-fulfilled prophecy. They throw one wild pitch and convince themselves that they’ll never have a good one for the rest of the game. When you don’t give yourself a chance to recover from mistakes, they’ll eat at you until you allow history to repeat itself.

Sports psychology dictates that you can excel at work if you force yourself to recover from mistakes. Realize that everyone makes them and move on — to bigger and better things. If you don’t forgive yourself and if you continue to replay the incident over and over in your mind, you’ll sabotage your own chances for success.

Goal Setting

All athletes have goals for themselves and for their teams, but you might not realize how complex sports psychology really is. According to sports psychologist Andrew Brashney, there are three types of goals: Performance, outcome and effort. A performance goal is one in which you strive to beat your last record or top a previous performance. An outcome goal means that you desire to win. The effort goal, on the other hand, is more vague: You simply vow to try your hardest.

To excel at work, you can use goal setting from sports psychology. Divide your goals into the aforementioned categories, write them down and continue to update them as you move up the corporate ladder. Make sure that your goals are attainable, however, and remember to set both short-term and long-term goals.

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