ACT in Sport, Improving Performance through Mindfulness

ACT in Sport, Improving Performance through Mindfulness

Dr James Hegarty has a wide range of experiences as a Clinical Psychologist and a long standing interest in Sports Psychology.  Throughout his career he has worked with sports people, from passionate amateurs through to professional athletes.  He was an early adopter of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training, and as a speaker and presenter was pivotal in its widespread adoption among New Zealand Psychologists.  

Since 2005, he has trained Psychologists and others in the implementation of ACT, 
and written ACT-based protocols. These have been used with high performing sports teams, in business settings, and with criminal offenders. 

James and his friend and colleague, Dr Christoph,Huelsmann have co-authored a book ACT in Sport, improve performance through Mindfulness which is a manual for Athletes, Coaches and Sport Psychologists.  Currently he works in private practice in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In today’s episode I introduce the concept of Acceptance Commitment Therapy or Training (ACT) and Mindfulness with co-author of an excellent book on the topic Dr James Hegarty.  In sport it is very easy to get ahead of yourself or dwell on past mistakes impacting on your performance levels.  James and I go on to unpick how ACT and Mindfulness principles and tools can support you in this regard so that you can perform better under pressure.  Enjoy tuning in.

Key Takeaways:

  • In psychology a lot of work is focused on capturing unhelpful thoughts and looking to change them, with more helpful and positive thoughts.  Using ACT and Mindfulness is different where I teach people to attend to their thoughts and pay attention to their body. 
  • ACT and Mindfulness can be difficult to get your head around however it is very beneficial, with research backing up it’s use in a range of settings.
  • The six core principles of ACT include; acceptance, defusion, connecting with the present moment, the Observing Self, values and committed action.
  • Mindfulness is where you consciously bring your awareness to the present moment and the here and now. 
  • Using ACT and Mindfulness can help you overcome performance anxiety and deal better with nerves.
  • There are simple tools that can help you move on from the inevitable mistakes that we all make in sport.
  • It is a tool that can give you a better chance to find the zone more often.

Connect with Dr James Hegarty:


Email: [email protected]

Book – ACT in Sport: Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment

Connect with David


Join David @ The Sports Psychology Hub

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN

Useful Resources

Blog: Case study supporting a professional rugby player rehabilitating from injury

Blog: Why you should meditate to improve your sport performance

Blog: 3 Tips to help you overcome setbacks

Useful Podcast Episodes

Podcast Ep013: Karl Morris – How to stay present like a major champion

Podcast Ep016: David Charlton – Observations: Learning From Your Mistakes

Podcast Ep032: David Charlton – How Can I Be Grateful For The Little Things

Podcast Episode 084: Dr Jim Afremow and Phil White – Mental Toughness and The Leaders Mind 

Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.



Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and we read every single one of them!

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.   

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

Search Our Sports Psychology Website

Popular Categories

Join Our Online Community Now!

Mental Edge Newsletter

Are you an athlete, coach or parent that would like to learn how to create sustainable high performance? Receive our free regular newsletter, where we share proven mental toughness and high performance tips and strategies. If you want some support and motivation straight to your inbox, then sign up below.

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.