Research in sport psychology

How do competitive athletes regenerate best? How do they optimise their sleep? How do you develop reliable and meaningful questionnaire procedures? Sport psychology research deals with these and similar questions.

Our research

Main focus

  • Recovery and sleep
  • Sport psychology diagnostics, intervention and monitoring
  • Digital media and mental health

Current research projects

"A little bit of Instagram is no problem" - Use of digital media by young athletes in the context of mental health

The DigiMed project investigates to which extent digital media play a role in the everyday life of young professional athletes and what influence they have on their mental health. Therefore, a large cross-sectional survey will be carried out in several sports to determine the status quo regarding the use of digital media in the target group, to develop workshops based on this information and in line with the needs of the target group. A transfer of the results is planned on a scientific level through publications as well as on a practical level through cooperation with organisations. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

Individual sleep management in junior and elite sport

The research project "InSchlaf" deals with individual sleep management in junior and elite sports. On the one hand, the focus is on the analysis of sleep-promoting and -defacing factors of sleep behaviour (status surveys & seasonal progression) and, on the other hand, the investigation of individually adapted sleep management strategies. A further objective is the investigation of a biphasic sleep pattern in comparison to monophasic sleep about sleep architecture and the effect on performance-relevant parameters in the context of shooting sports. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

Recovery management of top karate athletes in the context of Olympic qualification

The examination and optimisation of individual regeneration in elite and high-performance sports are elementary for optimal performance in competition, high-quality training for preparation and improvement as well as for the maintenance of physical and mental health. Especially concerning karate with intensive multiple loads during the day of competition with varying time intervals, adequate short-term regeneration methods can contribute decisively to success or defeat. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

Strength training in junior competitive sport KINGS 2.0

After a first successful KINGS funding cycle, the WVL (Scientific Network System for competitive sports) project is starting another round with KINGS 2.0. In the course of the first KINGS funding cycle, many open research questions regarding the effects of strength training on the performance development and health of young athletes have already been successfully addressed in interdisciplinary research networks of the KINGS consortium and significant findings on the effects and physiological adaptations of strength training in young competitive sports have been obtained. For example, the effects of different strength training interventions in junior competitive sports could be investigated in longitudinal section studies and specific strength training programmes and exercises could be characterised in terms of load composition and considering factors such as gender, biological degree of maturity and level of expertise. Based on these results, the KINGS model was developed, which assigns specific strength training methods to the stages of long-term performance development of junior athletes, under consideration of the biological degree of maturity and the individual strength training competence. Furthermore, the effects of individual predispositions (e.g. immune and orthopaedic status) on the achieved biological adaptations and increase in performance of specific strength training programmes were tested in the KINGS study. Finally, in addition to the already described physical (performance-related) components, it was also possible to analyse aspects of mental health, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression concerning the biological degree of maturity. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

RegMan - what is the best way for competitive athletes to recover?

Fast regeneration is becoming more and more important in competitive sports because of the increasing competition volume to ensure consistently high performance. This is in line with the position of the top german sports associations. Additionally, they see a deficit of science-based recommendations that high-level athletes can use as a guideline. This resulted in a tender offer from the Federal Institute for Sport Science (BISp) in Bonn, to which german scientists were invited to apply at the turn of the year 2011/12. Saarland University was awarded the contract for this extensive project, which was initially entitled "Optimisation of Training and Competition: Regeneration Management in Elite Sports", in a joint application with the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. From now on, the short title for the scientific studies will be "RegMan".

A report in the RUBIN science magazine

The local applicants were Prof. Dr Michael Kellmann (sports psychology) and Prof. Dr Alex Ferrauti (training & exercise science), who, together with Prof. Dr Tim Meyer (sports medicine at Saarland University) and the training scientist Prof. Dr Mark Pfeiffer, prevailed in the review process. A total of 1.4 million euros was approved for the 4-year project. This amount is to be used to finance at least ten individual studies, which are to be realised primarily in close cooperation with local competitive athletes and Olympic training centres. The efforts aim to develop practical recovery advice for athletes that takes into account the specifics of the sport, gender, available time and other important aspects. Finally, such findings should also be brought to athletes in a practical form that allows access with modern mobile communication devices (e.g. as an app). (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

Selected completed projects

Starting points for better psycho-social diagnostics and therapy for back pain

The research group led by Prof. Michael Kellmann is focusing on the experience of stress - Kellmann refers to this as stress processes: "Back pain harms the entire experience of stress. We want to find factors that explain this connection." One of these factors is pain processing. This, as well as pain intensity, could explain the link between back pain and stress experience. The higher pain tolerance of competitive athletes is of particular interest here. Finally, Kellmann and his team are also investigating recovery processes that can positively influence the course of back pain. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

The mental health of trainers

Trainers belong to an occupational category that is regularly exposed to emotional and physical stress situations due to their work structures and fields of activity. The consequences of the subjective excessive demands, discontent and lack of recovery can lead to the development of a feeling of "burnout". However, current research in Germany is rather limited. The project aims to identify personal and environmental factors that influence the stress level of trainers and could promote the development of burnout. (funded by the Federal Institute for Sport Science)

Scientific evaluation of the framework training concept in children's and adolescents' competitive sport of the German Basketball Federation (DBB)

In the context of the problem areas of "requirements structure of the basketball game" and "talent diagnosis and promotion", an evaluation of the RTK Basketball is being realised in coordination with DSB/BL, DBB, WBV and other regional associations as cooperation partners. (in cooperation with the Training & Exercise Science area of the RUB; funded by the Federal Institute of Sport Science)

Development and testing of basketball-specific exercises for the further development of sport-specific relevant mental characteristics

The aims of the project were:

  • Development/modification of basketball-specific exercise and training forms (exercise series) for the further development of mental characteristics.
  • Testing of these basketball-specific exercise and training methods for the further development of mental characteristics.
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