Exploring the association between enjoyment and basic psychological skills in young athletes

P. McCarthy, Z. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Enjoyment is one desirable psychological outcome available to young athletes and plays a key role in maintaining one’s involvement in sport (Weiss et al., 2001: Pediatric Exercise Science, 13, 131–144). Many sport psychologists acknowledge enjoyment as an important outcome of psychological skills training (PST) (Weinberg & Gould, 2003: In Foundations of sport and exercise psychology, edited by R. S. Weinberg & D. Gould. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics). Yet, despite its importance, few studies report a measure of enjoyment following a psychological skills intervention or the association between enjoyment and basic psychological skills. Examining the association between enjoyment and basic psychological skills is important for at least two reasons. First, appropriate psychological skills education programmes could be made available for young athletes to enhance sport enjoyment and maintain their commitment to sport. Second, young athletes performing in stressful competitions may benefit from developing psychological skills to enjoy practice and competition and safeguard against the adverse effects of anxiety. The aim of this study was to examine whether young athletes who reported high levels of sport enjoyment used basic psychological skills (i.e. goal-setting, self-talk, imagery and relaxation) more in practice and competition than athletes reporting lower levels of sport enjoyment; a further aim was to establish the association, if any, between enjoyment and the four basic psychological skills outlined by Hardy et al. (1996: Understanding psychological preparation for sport: Theory and practice of elite performers. Chichester: Wiley).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • psychological skills training
  • PST
  • young athletes
  • enjoyment


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