Promotion of healthy lifestyle – psychological skills


The information below is extracted from "PE (HKDSE) Learning and Teaching Package 2007", Part VII - Psychological Skills for PE, Sport and Recreation.


A.    Stress managment

l             Relaxation - The most important strategy in stress management is relaxation. The following five points are relevant:

-          Smile

-          Slow down

-          Take a slow and deep breath.

-          Focus on the present; do not think about what has just happened and what will happen.

-          Do relaxation imagery.

-          Enjoy the present situation.


When one is very stressful, it is not easy to relax. Therefore, relaxation training is necessary. Some examples of relaxation training are as follows:

-          Progressive relaxation – To acquire the feeling of being relaxed through firstly tensing and then relaxing muscles (Refer to the Student Stress Management Platform for detailed information).

-          Biofeedback – To learn how to relax specific muscles with the assistance of an apparatus that can monitor somatic responses (For example, heart rate, respiration rate, muscle tension, etc).

-          Imagery – To imagine how to accomplish the task in a fully relaxed way.

-          Meditation – To concentrate on a specific word or object so as to reach a state of calmness.

l             Positive thinking - Stress is psychological in nature. Positive thinking may help.  Examples of positive thinking include:

-          View the challenge as a learning opportunity.

-          Make efforts in planning and preparation to feel comfortable.

-          Assess the event importance again from a more macro perspective. For example, an “important” competition will become less important when it is considered as one of the many important competitions that one will undergo in his / her life.

l             It is also wise to actively share the stressful feelings with parents, friends, classmates and teachers and seek their advice or support.



B.   Self-confidence

Self-confidence refers to one’s belief in his/her ability to perform desired behaviours.  The following are some methods of building self-confidence:

l           Acquire successful experiences through:

-          setting realistic goals;

-          setting short-term goals so that it is easier to identify progress and to succeed; and

-          setting process goals and performance goals; and emphasising on “achieving success through working hard”.

l           Be physically, technically and tactically well prepared for the challenges.

l           Learn to demonstrate a confident image in competitions (For example, keeping the head up, shoulders back, facial muscles loose even after making a critical error, etc).

l           Discard negative thoughts (For example, I am afraid that I may make mistakes), replace them with positive thoughts (For example, I have taken plenty of practices; it is unlikely that I will make mistakes) and then strengthen the positive thoughts through repeated imageries and self-talks.



C.  Goal setting

When carried out effectively, goal setting can help a person to concentrate, raise self-confidence, enhance motivation and ultimately bring about a positive effect on performance. The following table shows three types of goals in physical activities.




Key to success


Outcome goals

Competition results

Depends on the performance of the opponent

Winning the championship

Performance goals

Meeting standards / criteria

Effort; independent of the performance of other competitors

Completing a 1500m run in 4 minutes and 30 seconds

Process goals

Actions that lead to good performance

Effort; independent of the performance of other competitors

Maintaining a moderate-intensity run for 60 minutes every day


The following are some guidelines on goal setting:

l           Set specific goals with time-lines.

l           Set goals that are challenging but achievable.

l           Develop performance indicators for the goals, i.e. clearly describe what actions to be taken under what conditions.

l           Break long-term goals into several short-term goals in different stages.

l           Set more process goals and performance goals, and fewer or no outcome goals.

l           Set goals for practice and competition.

l           Develop goal-achievement strategies.

l           Record the goals and display them at appropriate spots where they can be seen frequently.

l           Do not set too many goals.

l           Review the goals from time to time and make adjustments when necessary.