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The Best Sports Psychology Books for the Conscious Athlete


Sports psychology is a well-established field full of insightful research and expertise in the sports mind. This growing knowledge can be useful when applied, helping athletes train harder and more efficiently, and in a way that does not harm mental health.

A key concept is the idea that the mental is just as important as the physical when it comes to pushing yourself. Athletes can train their bodies to extremes, but forgetting to improve mental dexterity may be the reason other athletes can outperform them.

Sports psychology books help get valuable insights into the minds of athletes, helping you learn the lessons they’ve spent years training on. How the psychological and the physical can work together is an important skill, and one that serious athletes must inevitably discover.

Read on to discover our selection of the best sports psychology books, ready to uplift, motivate and inspire.

Best Sports Psychology Books To Buy In 2022

Mind Games by Annie Vernon

World Rowing Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist Annie Vernon draws on her extensive and rigorous training experience to find out why athletes push themselves to the limit. The former competitive athlete interviews some of the most prominent coaches, athletes and psychologists to unpack the mind of the elite.

While working out is often considered a highly physical activity, mind games focuses on the mental dexterity required, which can be just as important when pushing your limits. As the name of the book suggests, Vernon’s investigation reveals the mind games athletes must adopt to stay at the top of their game.

Endure by Alex Hutchinson

Developed from a fascination with the extremes of human endurance, Support reveals how our limits are determined as much by our minds as by our bodies.

Alex Hutchinson supports the idea that a main component of endurance comes down to how our brain responds to distress signals. These signals can be triggered by fatigue, pain, adverse weather conditions and more – and Hutchinson says improving our brain’s responses to these triggers is an effective way to train for endurance.

Hutchinson immerses himself in various experiments, brain imaging and sports psychology research, as well as his own experience as an elite distance runner, to support his claims and build a more detailed view of the athlete’s mind. .

Read our full review of Endure here.

Top performances by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness unpack the stories of top performers from diverse fields, from sports to academia to art, to create a more universal understanding of how the brain drives performance.

Lessons learned can be applied in various aspects of life, but notes on the cognitive and neuropsychological functions of the mind can be particularly useful for athletes. Peak performance can serve as a guide to improve your approach, with practical applications of the techniques discussed.

Spirit of the Champion by Jim Afremow

What differentiates some athletes from others? Why can some outperform others, even in elite competitions? Champion’s Spirit explains that the main difference is often the mental game that athletes have internalized to maintain long-term excellence.

Along with insightful explanations, Jim Afremow provides a helpful, step-by-step guide to reaching your best, with sections on “how to get in the zone” and “how to level up in a sport” among others.

Endurance performance in sport by Carla Meijen

In Endurance performance in sports, Carla Meijen brings together research and expertise from around the world to provide a comprehensive overview of the psychology of endurance performance. It is a book that delves into the theoretical understanding of sports psychology, as well as details on various techniques and interventions that can improve the mental endurance of athletes.

The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn

Ultra running is one of the truest tests of endurance, going beyond marathon lengths to push your body even further.

The rise of ultra-runners tells the story of Adharanand Finn’s journey as he tries to become an ultra-runner himself – a venture that has taken him to faraway places like the deserts of Oman and the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Finn offers an inspiring insight into what can be found at the most extreme limits of human performance, considering the psychological and social drivers that compel athletes to keep pushing.

High Performance by Jack Humphrey and Damian Hughes

In the podcast of the same name, sportscaster Jake Humphrey and psychologist Damian Hughes talk to the highly successful about their experience of excelling in life.

High performance covers nine “hidden” rules of success, using their unique insight into the wide range of high achievers they’ve interviewed, from top athletes to entrepreneurs.

Pic by Marc Bubbs

Health, nutrition, recovery, state of mind. Dr. Marc Bubbs considers them the four pillars to build on to achieve your peak performance, based on his experience as a performance nutrition consultant for professional and Olympic athletes.

Peak emphasizes the importance of your mindset and emotional intelligence when aiming for the best.

Sports Psychology: A Comprehensive Introduction by John Perry

Focus more on the subject itself, sports psychology is an introduction to academic research in the field. For those who study it, teach it, or even practice it as an athlete, the book can provide detailed, research-based information about the world of sports psychology.