Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

In high performance sport, athletes and coaches recognise that psychological preparation and associated performance strategies are critical to sporting success. Therefore, the aim of this unit is to develop in students an understanding of theoretical concepts and their practical application of sport and performance psychology as they relate to high performance athletes and the environments in which they operate. The unit will address basic and contemporary skill-acquisition and performance psychological concepts related to sport performance in high-pressure situations and their application into practice in a variety of high-pressure contexts. By developing evidence-based knowledge of performance psychology and skill-acquisition concepts and ideas, and their application in high performance sport, students will discover that psychology is as much about understanding the contexts, tasks, and environments of high performance sport as it is about the individual athlete's mind and behaviour. The emphasis is on translating theory into practice with a means to determining the power of understanding and applying psychology in the arena of high performance sport, within appropriate scope of practice and referral pathways.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Apply and reflect on sport psychology theory and evidence to create a pressure-resistant environment appropriate for high performance sport (GA1, GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Apply and reflect on skill acquisition theory and evidence to design training activities to support high performance athletes’ performance under pressure (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Apply psychological skills strategies in specific contexts for performance under pressure (GA1, GA3)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 


Topics will include: 

  • Perception and Action, Representative Learning and Complex Systems in Sport
  • Decision Making Under Pressure
  • Mind-Set, Mental Toughness and Self-Confidence in Sport
  • Coaching Psychology and the Psychology of Expertise
  • Applied Sport Psychology in High Performance Sport

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, web-based learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for their application in high performance sport contexts. These strategies will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in online activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. Media presentation assessments are used to allow students to demonstrate their understanding and application of knowledge, reflect on their practice in a high performance setting, and communication in a range of applied sport science settings. Assessments allow for progressive development of knowledge, requiring application, and reflection on learning as an iterative process. That is, assessment 2 will reflect and build upon assessment 1, and assessment 3 will reflect and build upon assessment 2.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Media presentation 1

Enables students to apply psychological principles to create a pressure-resistant environment in high performance sport 



GA1, GA4, GA5

Media presentation 2 

Enables students to reflect on the application of psychological principles to create a pressure resistant environment and design training activities to support performance under pressure in high performance sport


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5

Media presentation 3

Enables students to reflect on the application of training design principles and implement psychological skills strategies in high performance sport 


LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3,

Representative texts and references

Weinberg, R., & Gould, D. (2011). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology (5th Edition). Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics.

Farrow, D., Baker, J. & MacMahon, C. (2013). Developing Sport Expertise. London: Routledge.

Williams, J.M. (2010). Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th Edition). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Davids, K.W., Hristovski, R., Araújo, D., Balague Serre N., Button C., & Passos, P. (2014). Complex systems in sport. London: Routledge.

Davids, K.W., Button, C., & Bennett, S.J. (2008). Dynamics of skill acquisition: a constraints-led approach. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics,.

Cox, R.H. (2012). Sport psychology: Concepts and applications. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Horn, T.S. (2008). Coaching effectiveness in the sport domain. In T.S, Horn (Ed.), Advances in sport psychology (pp. 239-268). Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics

Smith, D. E. & Bar-Eli, M. (2007). Essential readings in sport and exercise psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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