Best-selling Author Discusses Sports Psychology Textbook


Best-selling author Kay Porter, Ph.D., a former professor at the University of Oregon, spoke in depth about her applied sports psychology textbook, “The Mental Athlete: Inner Training for Peak Performance” at The University of Scranton.

The audience for the informal discussion consisted of athletes, coaches, students and parents of athletes from the Scranton area. 

Porter fielded questions from the 100 attendees for most of her presentation. Some questions focused on overcoming negativity, building team unity and ‘refocusing techniques.’ 

When asked how to overcome negativity in the game, Porter said to just let go of all those unhealthy emotions. The idea of playing is to stay in the moment. “Let it go and refocus,” she said, explaining that releasing the negativity becomes easier when an athlete is conscious of what is on his or her mind.

Porter led the audience through a step-by-step technique for refocusing during a game. The technique consisted of four steps. Athletes should rapidly blink four to five times in a row; open and close his or her eyes tightly for the same duration; take three deep breathes in with the nose and out with the mouth; and glance across the room from side to side moving the eyes only. According to Porter, the last step helps to balance the left and right sides of the brain. 

In responding to a question from a sports coach about team unity strategies, Porter replied that building team chemistry is essential. It is important for the team players to encourage one another. She said experienced athletes should take the time to mentor incoming freshman in the beginning of each season.

Porter often mentioned that it all begins with a “strong mental voice.” Regardless of the sport you play, she suggested you always say, “You are good. You deserve to be here.”

Porter’s lecture was held in the Moskovitz Theatre of the DeNaples Center on 

Wednesday, Nov. 18. It was sponsored by The University of Scranton’s Psychology, Athletics and Exercise Science and Sports departments, in collaboration with the Bochicchio Sport Character Initiative.