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

Tim Rees*, S. Alexander Haslam, Pete Coffee, David Lavallee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1096
Number of pages14
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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