Map Sports

The Game's in the Brain; The Psychology of Team Sport

There are few figures in world sport who are able to match the impressive resume of Lawrence “Yogi” Berra. During his career as a baseball player, coach and manager, Berra was involved in an amazing 21 World Series, was named catcher of the century, and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But it’s not only his on field success that Berra is remembered for.

His quotes, or “Yogiisms” as they have become known are almost more famous than the man himself. “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical”, is one such quote which has gone on to live a life of its own.

Berra’s obvious maths slip aside, the “90% mental” approach to sport has become a necessary part of the training and preparation for all elite athletes. It is not only the discipline required to complete hours of training skills to hone ability that takes an average athlete to a game-changer, but also their mental preparation that can make the difference at the final whistle.

Like many different areas in the business of sport, increased professionalism has seen a growth in the understanding of an application of sport psychology for elite athletes.

Sport psychology, however, takes many forms. From ensuring that athletes are focused and motivated in their training and preparation, to their performances on the field, and overcoming obstacles and hurdles faced in and out of competition.


Psychology in a Team Environment

While sport psychology for individual athletes is important, for team sports like rugby league there is also the additional layer of psychology for the team as a whole. Like Berra’s famous saying, there are many passed down in sport about the importance of ‘playing as a team’. However, moulding a group of high profile athletes into an effective winning team can sometimes be difficult.

The development of team culture is vital for any successful sporting team. Team culture is the team’s collective values, attitudes and beliefs, and dictates what are acceptable behaviours and expectations for individuals. Culture is often referenced by winning teams from sports around the globe. More often than not a winning team is a team where all players subscribe to the culture and by working collectively to achieve their goals.

Team culture can develop in a number of ways, by the standards and expectations set by the coach, naturally through the playing group, or a combination of the two. A strong understanding of sport psychology, and the needs and motivations of players is important for any coach wanting to build a winning team culture.

Skills For Life

Many players don’t realise how the values and attitudes that they learn during their playing careers can impact their post-playing lives. The focus and commitment that have become a part of their day to day lives can be channelled into whatever businesses they pursue during participation in, or once they leave, their chosen sport.

Having a business coach or sports manager is important – to help with business choices, sponsorships, franchise opportunities etc. And this is where Map Sports can help to leverage you skills and guide you in making the best decisions possible.


Former NRL and Super League player, Sports Manager Andrew Purcell, is the MD of Map Sports, and welcomes your call or email to discuss your sport, or after-sport career.