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Hoe kan talent en leerpotentieel worden herkend, benut en versterkt? Welke psychologische factoren en omstandigheden zijn van invloed op het optimaal kunnen presteren? Hoe kunnen mentale vaardigheden worden gestimuleerd en ontwikkeld? Met die vragen gaat Nico van Yperen zich bezighouden als hoogleraar Sport & Performance Psychologie aan de Rijksuniversiteit van Groningen. Hij is de eerste hoogleraar op dit gebied in Nederland. Dit artikel is een lichte bewerking van de academische rede die ik op 30 oktober 2018 uitsprak ter aanvaarding van mijn de leerstoel aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Ik bespreek allereerst de generaliseerbaarheid van sportpsychologische kennis en inzichten en vervolgens competitie als essentieel kenmerk van sport. Daarna volgt op basis van een algemeen prestatiemodel een overzicht van verschillende, complementaire perspectieven op presteren onder druk.

De generaliseerbaarheid van sport-psychologische kennis en inzichten

Sportpsychologische kennis en inzichten zijn niet uitsluitend relevant en toepasbaar in een sportcontext (bijv. Hays, 2012)26. Een succesvol talentontwikkelingsprogramma van een voetbalclub biedt bruikbare inzichten voor scholen en bedrijven, en vice versa. Effectieve mentale vaardigheden die sporters hanteren, kunnen ook worden ingezet door studenten bij examens, kandidaten bij selectiegesprekken, en artiesten bij optredens. Maar voor psychologen is het aantrekkelijk om mentale factoren in een sportcontext te onderzoeken; sport is immers een snelkookpan waarin gedurende een overzichtelijke periode een scala aan emoties wordt opgeroepen, de meest uiteenlopende gedachten zich manifesteren, en waarneembaar en toetsbaar gedrag wordt vertoond. Mede daarom wordt sport vaak gezien als leerschool en natuurlijk laboratorium van het leven (bijv. Day, Gordon & Fink, 2012). In een relatief beschermde omgeving leren sporters om te gaan met geluk en frustratie, succes en tegenslag, en tegengestelde belangen en wedstrijdangst. En ze leren bijvoorbeeld ook dat je hard moet werken voor succes, dat je…

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