Sport psychology research and development projects at Ural Federal University


PhD, Associate Professor V.R. Malkin1                                                       
PhD, Associate Professor L.N. Rogaleva1
Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor A.M. Kim2
R.R. Valeev1
Master's student Y.A. Bredikhina1
1Ural Federal University (UrFU), Yekaterinburg
2Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan


Keywords: sport psychology, mental conditioning system, international cooperation, International Double Degree Programme.

Background. It was for the first time in the history of the Russian sport psychology that UrFU filed an application (on July 2017 in Seville, Spain) to host the 2021 World Congress for Sport Psychology in Yekaterinburg.  Despite the win of Taipen (Taiwan) which was 3 votes ahead of UrFU, the University’s qualification for the international contest may be viewed as success of the 30-years-long determined efforts of its Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Youth Policy (IPESYP).

Objective of the study was to analyse the present situation and development policies in the sport psychology research domain at Ural Federal University (UrFU).

Methods and structure of the study. The study was designed to summarise and analyze the study reports, monographs and teaching aids in sport psychology published by the UrFU students and academicians in the period of 1987 through 2017 including the international cooperation project reporting materials for the period.

Study results and discussion. The very first study report in sport psychology by V.R. Malkin was published by UrFU back in the early 1980ies. The V.R. Malkin’s thesis “Mental self-control tools to stabilize performance in extreme situations” was proved highly beneficial for the practical athletic training systems.

Later on the sport psychology related interests of V.R. Malkin and the research team he leaded significantly expanded to cover psychophysical culture in school education, children’s/ youth Sport Psychology and mental conditioning and control in sports. A few PhD dissertations were defended in these research domains by the UrFU staff members. Thus the L.N. Rogaleva’s dissertation “Effects of sports and coach’s guidance on junior athlete’s personality shaping” was one of the first to address the issues of the children’s sports humanization process – which are now ranked high in the list of priorities by the global sport communities. Findings of L.N. Rogaleva are acknowledged and covered by the modern internationally accepted textbook of sport psychology [12].

Presently a research task team works at UrFU on the research topic of “Athletes’ mental conditioning system applicable throughout sport career” designed to support the existing athletic training systems by the relevant practical recommendations [10, 11]. As demonstrated by the global experience, an emphasis on the sports practices has been strategically beneficial since the key motto of the 14th World Congress of Sport Psychology (July 2017) was “Sport psychology for sport practice”.

The Physical Education Theory Department specialists in cooperation with UrFU students have published more than 300 study reports and theses in conference proceedings and scientific journals, with 6 publications listed in the Web of Science and Scopus citation databases. Findings of the UrFU research team have been presented at the national and international congresses and conferences and World Congresses of Sport Psychology. A few educational aids including “Mental conditioning process management in sports” by V.R. Malkin, Moscow, 2008; and “Sports mean psychology” by V.R. Malkin, L.N. Rogaleva, Moscow, 2016; “Psychological support at Children’s and Youth Sport Schools” by V.R. Malkin and L.N. Rogaleva – are well known to the global community of sport psychologists and practitioners.

Progress of UrFU in Sport Psychology has been largely propelled by the efforts of students, masters and postgraduates. It may be pertinent to mention that the first master education curriculum at the Institute of Physical Education and Sports included the course of “Psychological and educational follow-up in the physical education and sports sector” under the academic Physical Education discipline. For 10 years of training under the curriculum, 35 graduates have been trained and now they successfully apply their knowledge and skills in practical services to junior figure skaters, football and volleyball players, track and field athletes and in the management and tutorial positions in the national physical culture and sports sector. The UrFU masters have also been highly successful in their research projects. Thus Y.L. Mokhova has developed and implemented a mental health building program in application to 7-9 year-old figure skaters [4]. A.S. Zvezdin was successful in implementing an individualized mental conditioning model for 7-9 year-old football players [2]. Y.M. Gilyazetdinova, a successful paralympian, developed and successfully tested an inclusive adapted training model for health-impaired people [1]. R.R. Zhiyentaev, World Class Master of Sport in cycling successfully completed probation as a sport psychologist for the Kazakhstan continental cycling team “Vino4ever” and is currently providing consulting services to elite athletes.

Since 2015, UrFU has offered a new International Double Degree Programme with the master training courses “Motivations and Self-fulfilment in Sports” (at the IPES) and “Sport Psychology” (at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University), the courses being available online under the modern specialist remote education model. The first-year training under the Program implies the student exchanges to: offer new cultural and educational environments to the students; encourage their cross-cultural studies; and train them to solve non-standard tasks – so as to shape up a new generation prepared for modern challenges. The still modest albeit highly beneficial experience of cooperation in the Double Degree Programme was summarized in publications in “Vysshaya shkola Kazakhstana” (Kazakh Higher School) Journal and “Sovremenny problem nauki i obrazovaniya” (Modern Problems of Science and Education) Journal [5, 6].

It is the individualized approach that has long been applied by the students and masters of the Physical Education Department of UrFU as a methodological basis for the modern research in sport psychology, with the practical sport psychology progress vector being determined by the sporting individual development tools and methods. This is the reason why special attention was given to the qualities required for an athlete for the whole athletic career and the relevant mental conditioning technologies applicable in every age period, with the roles and contributions of coach, psychologist and athlete in the process being analysed.

Having analysed the available research materials on the subject, we would make a special emphasis on the studies of the athletes’ self-control qualities and stamina. A few studies performed by research teams of UrFU and KazNU found significant variations in contributions of the individual self-control qualities and stamina in the individual accomplishments in different domains. In the academic progress domain, for instance, the fair self-control qualities were found pivotal and sufficient for success, whilst stamina was found most important for competitive accomplishments. The relevant studies found the levels of the athletes’ stamina correlating with the individual sport mastery levels and track records in sports [7]. We believe that one of the most promising ways is to analyze the individual emotional intelligence and offer the relevant emotional intelligence development systems applicable from beginner training stages [8].

In view of the fact that UrFU joined the 5-100 Project designed to take leading positions on the global market of education services and research projects, the UrFU management gives a special priority to the university faculty engagement in the international cooperation projects with the relevant education specialists the world over. For the last 5 years, the Physical Education Theory Department faculty has been supported by the UrFU management in the efforts to implement a variety of international cooperation projects with contribution of the leading specialists in sport psychology.

In October 2014, UrFU hosted a Symposium-Workshop “Modern sport psychology: problems and solutions” in commemoration of L.D. Gissen, a prominent Russian sport psychologist. The Symposium was attended by the leading sport psychologists from Portugal, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia, including Sidonio Serpa, Professor of University of Lisbon, Vice President of the International Society of Sport Psychology; Tatyana Yancheva (Bulgaria); Professor, Pro-rector of Vassil Levski National Sport Academy; and Alexander Mass (Spain), Professor of the University of the Balearic Islands, Board Member of the International Society of Sport Psychology. Participants to the Symposium, including the IPESYP academicians, agreed on further joint research projects, education courses, publications of a supplement to the Journal of Sport Psychology (Spain) listed in the Web of science and Scopus database. It was largely due to the research and professional contribution of the IPESYP academicians that the Symposium has been a great success.

The international cooperation initiatives were further supported by the IPESYP faculty participation in the International Congress on Excellence in sports and life [11]. It was due to the valuable contribution of University Professor Chandigarh from India and Professor L.A. Unestahl from Sweden that the L.N. Rogaleva’s “Excellence in sports: from theory to practice” that the Project sponsored by the grant from the Vladimir Potanin Foundation in 2017 has been successfully advanced. The Project implements, among other things, new international master education courses under the International Double Degree = Programme initiative including Motivations and Self-fulfilment in Sports; Psychology of Emotional Intelligence in Sports; Excellence Concept in Sports; and the Psychological Support System throughout Sport Career.

Conclusion. Having analysed the sport psychology development history at UrFU for the last 30 years, we found that this research domain has been advanced with the highest sensitivity to the actual needs of the sport practices and in compliance with the valid educational standards, and the research findings have been highly competitive and relevant both on the national and international arenas.

The study was performed for the Winner Project Grand Contest under the Vladimir Potanin Stipend Program for 2016-17, and sponsored by the V. Potanin Foundation.


  1. Gilyazetdinova E.M., Rogaleva L.N. Psikhologicheskiy trening po vklyucheniyu lits s ogranichennymi vozmozhnostyami zdorovya v zanyatiya adaptivnym sportom [Psychological training on involvement of people with disabilities in adaptive sports]. Mater. Vseros. nauch.-prakt. konf. k 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya akademika V.L. Marishchuka [Proc. Rus. res.-practical conf. Dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Academician V.L. Marishchuk.]. St. Petersburg SU publ., St. Petersburg, 2016, pp. 240-245.
  2. Zvezdin A.S. Podkhody k problem formirovaniya lichnostnoy gotovnosti k sportivnoy deyatelnosti u yunykh futbolistov 8-10 let [Approaches to the problem of formation of personal readiness for sports activities in junior footballers aged 8-10 years old]. Sportivny psikholog, 2014, no. 1 (32), pp. 29-33.
  3. Malkin V.R., Rogaleva L.N., Kim A.M. et al. Strategiya podgotovki sportivnykh psikhologov v usloviyakh mezhdunarodnoy integratsii vysshey shkoly [Sports psychologist training strategy in context of international integration of higher education]. Sportivny psikholog, 2015, no. 2 (37), pp. 54-59.
  4. Mokhova E.L., Malkin V.R. Formirovanie psikhologicheskoy stabilnosti u detey-figuristov 7-9 let [Building psychological health in 7-9 year-old figure skaters]. Mater. XII Mezhdunar. nauch.-prakt. konf. Psikhologov fizicheskoy kultury i sporta ’Rudikovskie chteniya’ [Proc. XII Intern. res.-practical conf. of physical culture and sports psychologists ‘Rudikov meeting’]. Moscow: RSUPESYT publ., 2016, pp. 252-255.
  5. Rogaleva L.N., Malkin V.R., Kim A.M. et al Opyt realizatsii mezhdunarodnoy magisterskoy programmy dvukh diplomov posportivnoy psikhologii v UrFUiKAzNUim. al-Farabi [Experience of implementing international Double Degree Master Programme in Sport Psychology in UrFU and al-Farabi KNU]. Vysshaya shkola Kazahstana, 2017, no. 1, pp. 33-35.
  6. Rogaleva L.N., Koybagarova D.K., Kim A.M. et al. Teoriya samorazvitiya i ee znachimost dlya sovremennogo obrazovaniya [Self-development theory and its importance for modern education]. Sovremennye problem nauki I obrazovaniya, 2017, no. 3, pp. 89-95.
  7. Rogaleva L.N., Malkin V.R., Fassakhova T.A. et al. Zhiznestoykost kak lichnostny resurs sportsmenov [Viability as athletes' personal resource]. Mater. VIII Mezhdunar. kongressa ‘Sport. Chelovek. Zdorovye’ [Proc. VIII Intern. congress ‘Sport. Man. Health’]. St. Petersburg SU publ., St. Petersburg, 2017, pp. 225-227.
  8. Kim A., Khon N., Rogaleva L., Malkin V.  System Approach as Methodological Basis for Emotional Intelligence Development. International Journal of Psychology, 31st International Congress of Psychology Yokohama, Japan, 2016. (51), P. 547.
  9. Malkin V., Rogaleva L., Kim A., Aidossova Zh., Khon N. Mental Training in Sports: Summary and Perspectives. Proc. 3d international conference on applied social science research. Atlantis press, France, 2016, pp. 434-435.
  10. Malkin V., Rogaleva L. System of psychological work in sport. International Journal of Psychology, 31st International Congress of Psychology, Yokohama, Japan, 2016, vol. 51. S1. - P.1114
  11. Mohan J. Excellence: a multidimensional appraisal. 3rd World Congress on Excellence. Chandigarh, India, 2015, pp. 200-215.
  12. Schinke R.J., Kerry R., McGannon, Smith Brett Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 2016, 614 p.


The article considers the present situation and development policies in the sport psychology research domain at Ural Federal University (UrFU) and summarizes the relevant practical experience of the research, education and international cooperation projects accumulated by the University faculty. Special attention was given to the priorities of the research policies and practices and the theoretical and practical grounds for the sport psychological research at UrFU geared to produce and implement practical recommendations for the modern sport psychological services being applied in the education process and sports. The study also analyses the practical master training experience; overviews the university masters’ research accomplishments; analyses progress of the sport psychologists’ education in the context of the International Double Degree Master Programme; highlights the most promising international cooperation project models and shows their potential benefits for the modern university development policies. The study finds that the sport psychology at UrFU has evolved into an efficient research domain and proved its benefits for the modern sports.