Sports Medicine

, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 1083–1096 | Cite as

A Social Identity Approach to Sport Psychology: Principles, Practice, and Prospects

  • Tim ReesEmail author
  • S. Alexander Haslam
  • Pete Coffee
  • David Lavallee
Review Article


Drawing on social identity theory and self-categorization theory, we outline an approach to sport psychology that understands groups not simply as features of sporting contexts but rather as elements that can be, and often are, incorporated into a person’s sense of self and, through this, become powerful determinants of their sport-related behavior. The underpinnings of this social identity approach are outlined, and four key lessons for sport that are indicative of the analytical and practical power of the approach are presented. These suggest that social identity is the basis for sports group (1) behavior, (2) formation and development, (3) support and stress appraisal, and (4) leadership. Building on recent developments within sport science, we outline an agenda for future research by identifying a range of topics to which the social identity approach could fruitfully contribute.


Social Identity Transformational Leadership Social Identification Sport Psychology Sport Group 
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.



Tim Rees, S. Alexander Haslam, Pete Coffee, and David Lavallee have no potential conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of the manuscript. The contribution of S. Alexander Haslam was funded by the Australian Research Council (FL110100199). The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sport and Health Sciences, University of ExeterExeterUK
  2. 2.School of Psychology, The University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  3. 3.School of Sport, University of StirlingStirlingUK
  4. 4.Faculty of ManagementBournemouth UniversityPooleUK

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