Expert athletes understand the mind–body connection. For years, they have learned mental skills from coaches, consultants, and other practitioners in order to optimize physical performance. Now, these same mental skills are being taught to a broad range of performers, such as dancers, actors, lawyers, surgeons, business leaders, and rescue workers. The resulting new field of performance psychology allows performers from a variety of fields to "get their head out of the way so that their body can do what it's trained to do."

In detail, this book shows the everyday practice of performance psychology. Case by case, the stories demonstrate how consultants have helped performers develop confidence, overcome mental blocks, manage emotions, and use preparation techniques such as imagery and positive self-talk in order to achieve the best possible mental state for performance.

The chapters blend theory and practice by integrating literature reviews with real-world applications, and they cover a wide range of performers, including athletes, performing artists, business leaders, and professionals in high-risk occupations. Extensive session transcripts are provided, including the consultants' thoughts and reactions throughout the session.

Engaging, nuanced, personal, and highly accessible, this book will help practitioners and students from a variety of fields explore performance psychology…in action.

Table of Contents


Raymond D. Fowler



I. Mental Attributes For Peak Performance

  1. The "Canon" of Psychological Skills Training for Enhancing Performance
    Mark B. Andersen

  2. Emotional Intelligence
    Sean C. McCann

  3. Confidence
    Daniel R. Gould

  4. Mental Preparation, Memorization, and Improvisation
    Sandra Foster, Paul J. Lloyd, and Sara Kamin

II. Performance Challenges

  1. Performance Anxiety
    Kate F. Hays

  2. Audition Anxiety
    David J. Grand

  3. Working With Perfection
    Lynda M. Mainwaring

  4. Competition
    Gloria Balague

III. Performance-Related Consequences

  1. Eating Disorders
    Karen D. Cogan

  2. Isolation
    Shane Murphy

  3. Overtraining, Burnout, Injury, and Retirement
    Kirsten M. Peterson

IV. The Consultant and the System

  1. Adolescent Performers and the Family System
    Douglas M. Hankes

  2. Team Leadership
    Robert S. Weinberg

  3. Hierarchical Public Safety Organizations
    Mario J. Scalora

V. Conclusion

  1. The Consultant as a Performer
    Charles H. Brown


About the Editor

Editor Bio

Kate F. Hays, PhD, maintains an independent practice, The Performing Edge, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with a specialized focus on performance enhancement for athletes, performing artists, and businesspeople. She earned her master's and doctorate from Boston University in 1971. In New Hampshire, following her graduate training, she directed a community mental health center and subsequently developed an individual and group private practice.

Her research, writing, teaching, and practice, both in New Hampshire and, since 1997, in Toronto, have been directed toward the mental benefits of physical activity and the application of sport psychology techniques to other performance populations as well as athletes.

Dr. Hays is the author of Working It Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy; Move Your Body, Tone Your Mood; and (with co-author Charles H. Brown Jr.) You're On! Consulting for Peak Performance; and edited Integrating Exercise, Sports, Movement and Mind: Therapeutic Unity.

A former president of American Psychological Association's Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology, she is the recipient of its Bruce Ogilvie Award for Professional Practice.

Reviews & Awards

Dr. Hays has once again made an important contribution to this body of knowledge as the editor of Performance Psychology in Action: A Casebook for Working With Athletes, Performing Artists, Business Leaders, and Professionals in High-Risk Occupations.

In this book, a total of seventeen practitioners, including Dr. Hays, wrote chapters that cover a wide range of topics that are both pertinent and crucial to consider when working with elite performers of any ilk. Some of the contributors are well-known sport psychology consultants, such as Mark Andersen, Daniel Gould, Sean McCann, Sean Murphy, Robert Weinberg, Gloria Balague, and Douglas Hankes. Other authors, such as David Grand, Lynda Mainwaring, and Mario Scalora, have made significant contributions to performance enhancement through their respective work with actors, dancers, and public safety organizations. The remaining expert contributors include Charles Brown, Karen Cogan, Sandra Foster, Paul Lloyd, Sara Kamin, and Kirsten Peterson.

A foreword by Raymond Fowler captures the book's contents and contributions to the performance psychology field….I believe Performance Psychology in Action is an important contribution to the literature. It would be an excellent seminar textbook for graduate students and case study guide for both practicum interns and veterans in private practice. The references found at the end of each chapter are a treasure trove of valuable historical and current research — all of which will be helpful in expanding one's knowledge base.

In short, Dr. Hays' book is a boon to performance psychology professionals who seek to expand their client base beyond athletes.
The Sport Psychologist