Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 77–99 | Cite as

Effects of Psychological and Psychosocial Interventions on Sport Performance: A Meta-Analysis

  • Daniel J. BrownEmail author
  • David Fletcher
Systematic Review



Psychologists are increasingly supporting the quest for performance enhancement in sport and there is a need to evaluate the evidence base underpinning their work.


To synthesize the most rigorous available research that has evaluated psychological, social, and psychosocial interventions with sport performers on variables relating to their athletic performance, and to address some of the perplexing issues in the sport psychology intervention literature (e.g., do interventions have a lasting effect on sport performance?).


Randomized controlled trials were identified through electronic databases, hand-searching volumes of pertinent journals, scrutinizing reference lists of previous reviews, and contacting experts in the evaluation of interventions in this field. Included studies were required to evaluate the effects of psychological, social, or psychosocial interventions on sport performance in athletes when compared to a no-treatment or placebo-controlled treatment comparison group. A random effects meta-analysis calculating the standardized mean difference (Hedges’ g), meta-regressions, and trim and fill analyses were conducted. Data were analyzed at post-test and follow-up (ranging from 1 to 4 weeks after the intervention finished) assessments.


Psychological and psychosocial interventions were shown to enhance sport performance at post-test (k = 35, n = 997, Hedges’ g = 0.57, 95 % CI = 0.22–0.92) and follow-up assessments (k = 8, n = 189, Hedges’ g = 1.16, 95 % CI = 0.25–2.08); no social interventions were included or evaluated. Larger effects were found for psychosocial interventions and there was some evidence that effects were greatest in coach-delivered interventions and in samples with a greater proportion of male participants.


Psychological and psychosocial interventions have a moderate positive effect on sport performance, and this effect may last at least a month following the end of the intervention. Future research would benefit from following guidelines for intervention reporting.


Psychosocial Intervention Covariate Model Intervention Provider Effect Size Estimate Unexplained Variance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Thomas Curran for his advice about the statistical analysis and for his comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used in the preparation of this review.

Conflict of interest

Daniel J. Brown and David Fletcher declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 5 (DOC 64 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Health SciencesLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Department for HealthUniversity of BathBathUK

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