People who know their values are often happier; they’re more focused, and live a more meaningful life. This month Lara Mossman met with AHPRA endorsed sports psychologist Michael Inglis to discuss values and the important role they play in youth development. Inglis, who has a Masters in sports and exercise psychology, supports a holistic approach to sports medicine and is an advocate of values in sport.

LM: Can you a tell me a bit about your experience working with athletes? 

MI: I work with a range of sportspeople from young athletes through to elite competitors. Aside from football players, I work with athletes from Australian Rules Football, cycling, cricket, swimming, basketball, gymnastics, fencing, cross-country skiing, mountaineering and kite surfing. I work with teams and individuals, and I also coach a youth team.

LM: Can you describe what values are to Player Development Project readers?

MI: In an athletic context, values are our internal sports compass: they’re enduring beliefs and attitudes that shape our behaviour and define what direction we want to go in. Values form our philosophy around how we want to approach our sport; for example, whether we’re playing to reach an elite standard or for fun. Values in sport can be the same or different to life values. Being competitive is different in sport and life, whereas values such as humility are the same.

LM: Can you give an example of values you commonly come across in elite young players?

MI: I ask players to think of five words or phases that describe themselves as an athlete. Common examples are, ‘I never give up’, ‘team orientated’, ‘learning new skills’, ‘getting best out of myself’, ‘hard working’, ‘skillful’, ‘competitive’, and ‘sharing others’ successes’. They also talk about the social side of their sport – friendship and fun are important to many young players.

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Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman is currently working towards her PhD in wellbeing and positive psychology in football at La Trobe University in Melbourne. As well as being a regular contributor to PDP, Lara teaches positive psychology at The University of Melbourne.
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