4 Sports Psychology Books to Help Every Student-Athlete Succeed

Sports psychology is a powerful tool for any student-athlete striving to reach their potential. These books reveal critical ways to improve your mental game.

Lifestyle Self Help Wellness
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The student-athlete lifestyle is not for the faint-hearted. Between relentless homework assignments, exhausting practices, and high-pressure competitions, student-athletes often struggle to find time to relax. Speaking as a D1 track and field athlete, balancing my time between school and sports is a constant battle.

Juggling your focus, brain power, and thoughts between the two can be even harder. Read on to learn why many student-athletes face mental-health struggles, and check out some bookish resources to help navigate them.

The Mental Struggle of Being a Student-Athlete

Between regularly sporting athletic clothes and a team backpack, missing class due to travel competitions, and getting weird looks when struggling to climb the stairs after a tough workout, being a jock pretty much becomes your defining trait. While student-athletes have come a long way from the classic High School Musical dilemma (it’s okay to like sports and singing in 2023), it’s all too easy to let collegiate athletics consume you. Even though we’re technically students first and athletes second, it sometimes feels like it’s the other way around (especially when you suddenly find yourself wearing spandex to class more often than jeans).

Critically, many students-athletes’ futures rely on their athletic performance: scholarships, career opportunities, and even fame are directly dependent on how well they compete. It’s no wonder that student-athletes feel the need to hold themselves to extremely high standards.

But that kind of pressure can take a serious toll on your mental health. It becomes especially dangerous when athletes begin gauging their self-worth based on their performance or playing time. This kind of overwhelming pressure can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and stress. I’ve witnessed too many teammates become so obsessed with their performance that they run themself ragged with brutally high expectations. Between schoolwork and athletic events, it gets to be too much. They can help alleviate some of that pressure, though, by sourcing someone to help by searching: write essay for me in Google. That’s not the only method of lowering the mental load; let’s get into that, too.

Mental health awareness is especially important for college athletes as they strive to meet their athletic and academic potential. Most universities offer a plethora of mental health resources for student-athletes, such as sports psychology workshops, individual counseling and therapy, academic advising, and more, but books can also be an invaluable resource.

Help boost the mental side of your game with advice from some of these renowned psychologists.

The Champion’s Mind by Dr. Jim Afremow

The Champion's Mind by Dr. Jim Afremow
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In The Champion’s Mind, Jim Afremow, PhD, argues that athletes at every level have one thing in common: the desire to excel. No matter the caliber of the athlete, raw athletic ability doesn’t guarantee success—it’s the mental game that matters most. Dr. Afremow dives deep into the psychology behind successful athletes, including how to get in the “zone,” progress within a sport and sustain long-term excellence, and customize pre-performance routines for optimal game-day results.

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

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In The Talent Code, award-winning journalist Daniel Coyle proves that talent isn’t born, it’s made. Drawing on concrete research and observation, Coyle demystifies how unremarkable people can achieve the remarkable. It all boils down to three key elements that correlate to optimized performance in any field: Deep Practice, Ignition, and Master Coaching. Above all, he reveals that everyone can achieve their full potential through training their brains in the right way.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
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In Grit, Angela Duckworth demonstrates that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” She draws inspiration from her childhood, her stint in teaching, modern neuroscience experiments, and interviews with dozens of high achievers. All support her hypothesis that regardless of IQ, circumstances, or genetic ability, grit can be learned and make all the difference.

Think Like a Warrior by Darrin Donnelly

Think Like a Warrior by Darrin Donnelly
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In Think Like a Warrior, Darrin Donnelly reveals the five inner beliefs that turn ordinary athletes into warriors. Through the inspirational fable of Chris McNeely, a college football coach on the brink of failure, Donnelly resurrects five of history’s greatest coaches who teach Chris how to “think like a warrior.” Through building self-confidence, developing mental toughness, attacking each day with a positive mental attitude, and becoming a team leader, Donnelly argues that anyone can take control of their life and overcome any obstacle that stands in their way.


For more book recommendations for student-athletes, click here!

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