Open Access

Sporting Recommendations for Spiritual Encounters: Delivering Sport Psychology inside the English Premier League

   | Oct 31, 2011


Sport psychologists rarely discuss religious belief or spirituality in their work. Where they do, this is most usually in relation to flow and positive experiential states linked to optimal performance. This article argues that other spiritual dimensions, such as courage, sacrifice and suffering can also be encountered in sport, especially at elite and professional levels. By drawing on broader and more holistic approaches to identity in sport it becomes possible to recognise that for some athletes, religious faith and other sources of spirituality are a major source of meaning in their lives. Applied experiences of the author delivering sport psychology counselling inside several English Premier League teams over 9 seasons is used to highlight how spirituality can be encountered in work with elite professional footballers. Existential phenomenological psychology and philosophical personalism are offered as ways in which sport psychology might be able to find a suitable theoretical framework that can accommodate spiritual ideas and renew focus on the person of the athlete.