What is your definition of “Sports Psychology”?

To the best of my opinion, maybe to some people, Sports Psychology is rare. I want to answer this question by explaining where Sports Psychology stands in psychological science. Knowing that psychology is an area of research investigating how people think, feel, behave, and learn. Psychology has many schools of thought (cognitive, behaviour, and humanity) that prove different theories to explain how things happen. Significant branches of psychology present their ideas to a specific group of people. For example, Development Psychology focuses on babies and children, Clinical Psychology addresses a patient with mental difficulties such as abnormalities and mental disorders, and Social Psychology discusses the unique environment, differences, and social. In contrast, Sport Psychology is highlighted in sports contexts, athletes, emotion, and performance. So, this is where Sports Psychology is placed in this area. It has been defined Sports Psychology as a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations

How would you bridge the gap from your research-to-research users?

Bridging the gap from research to research users is effortless. My research involves real-life experience and using a simple tool such as the mind. Sports help an individual even more than in the physical aspects alone. Through it, we build character, teach and develop strategic thinking, analytical thinking, leadership skills, goal setting, and risk-taking, to name a few.

In addition, sports are not about creating champions but about developing a sporting spirit, a positive attitude towards life and its struggles, and shaping one’s personality and character. Participating in sports and physical activity develops the five components of fitness; strength, speed, skill, stamina, and flexibility. That is why they say, ‘Healthy Mind In a healthy Body‘ and ‘Healthy Body in a Healthy Mind‘, and I think this is true.

Tell us more about your research and your project

Mental skills training is an evidence-based approach, and it has been beneficial in improving skills, motivation, and emotion in sports. More evidence revealed that cognitive skills enhanced young people’s resilience and well-being and engagement in education, employment, and training (EET) opportunities.

My research focuses on developing mental skills training to benefit others, especially those who struggle mentally and emotionally. I have been working on cognitive skills training for mental health. Recently, I published a book titled; Self-Healing; Healed from Depression in 1 Night. My works have always been inspired by the success of a research group that has introduced mental skills training for life (MST4Life™), addressing social inequalities by improving the likelihood of life qualities among the vulnerable population (homeless youth) for years.

What inspired you to be a researcher and motivator?

I have loved sports and physical activities since I was young, and I started wondering how and why people did what they did during my teenage years. It was my turning point, and I began to read about human psychology and never look back. Through time, I learned about psychology in sports, where things are combined. I never stop learning and continuingly learn new things every day. If I doubt something, I will do my little research, and it saves me from being a blind follower and always prepared for anything.

From life experience, I learned that knowledge is powerful if it’s shared. I started to believe an educator is a profession that creates other jobs. A good educator comes with good motivation; that is how I was inspired to be who I am today. I may not be rich, but I can multiply things with knowledge. The human brain works fantastic. If I reveal to 100 students about one thing, I will get 100 different ideas back, and they will spread it. Knowledge is contagious. Isn’t it powerful?

Dr Nurwina Akmal Anuar
Associate Research Fellow of SITC, iHumEn, and Senior Lecturer of SBEHS, FE, UTM