Gratitude in Sport: Positive Psychology for Athletes and Implications for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Performance

  • Nicole T. GabanaEmail author


This chapter focuses on the potential benefits of gratitude cultivation and expression in the sport context, as it pertains to the positive mental health and well-being of individual athletes and teams. Positive psychology interventions (PPIs) that aim to cultivate grateful thoughts, feelings, and actions have demonstrated positive effects on mental and physical health among youth, college-age, and adult populations. Some of these benefits include increased life satisfaction, social connectedness, positive affect, resilience, altruism, better quality of sleep, and reduced psychological distress. Specifically, in the athletic population, recent research has shown that athletes who have higher levels of gratitude also report greater social support, life and sport satisfaction, team cohesion, and lower levels of burnout. Framed within the context of Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions, the author will discuss how gratitude can broaden athletes’ perspectives by noticing the good, and build their resources by increasing the perception of available support. The literature on gratitude PPIs to date will be discussed, considering specific implications for athletic populations. Potential applications for sport psychologists and other practitioners working in a performance context will be provided. Finally, the author will provide caveats and considerations of implementing gratitude PPIs among sport and performance populations, including limitations of the current body of literature, contextual factors, and future directions. Overall, this chapter emphasizes that the utilization of positive psychology in sport may be advantageous for athletes, coaches, and teams, and calls for further empirical study and applied focus in this area.


Sport psychology Athlete Mental health Well-being Performance 


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply  2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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