Psychology is a field that has diversified hugely over the past few years. One direction of interest is the growth and popularity of a career in sports psychology. With the hype surrounding many of our modern day sports people at an all time high, it is no wonder that more and more people are training for a career in sports psychology.
Sport and exercise psychologists focus on the mental and emotional aspects associated with sport and exercise. Most will either specialize in sport or exercise but it is possible to work in both areas. Once qualified as a sports psychologist, you can expect to work with teams and individuals at all levels of expertise from all backgrounds, from amateurs all the way up to top professionals.
Generally, a sports psychologist will work with a team or individual to deal with issues such as nerves and anxiety before a big game or event, improving self-confidence and thus improving performance, dealing with the stresses of a demanding training regime and also improving concentration. Many sportsmen and women struggle to maintain motivation and focus when faced with extreme pressure or stress and a sports psychologist will help to improve the situation. They will also help sporting individuals to deal with the frustration and stress of getting injured, controlling aggression during play and help individuals and teams to set themselves achievable goals in order to focus the mind.
Within your role as a sports psychologist you can expect to work in close proximity with not only sportsmen and women but other sporting professionals such as coaches, managers, nutritionists and physiotherapists. Sports psychologists need to be a specific type of person in order to be successful. They need to be genuinely interested in people and human behavior; they also need to have a keen interest in sport. It’s really important to have a desire to help others and have excellent communication skills. You need to be able to work within a team on a professional level and have a tolerant and patient manner. A good sports psychologist will have good problem solving skills and apply a logical approach to all areas of their work.
In order to work as a qualified sports psychologist you need to undergo the relevant training. You will need to complete a bachelor’s education requirements for psychology to begin with, and if possible choose a degree program that studies sports psychology. Most psychologists are advanced degree holders so in order to be competitive it is a good idea to further your career. You will be able to gain an entry level position with a two year degree but in order to be really successful, most professionals will advise the completion of a 5 year doctoral program based on sports psychology or sports science.
Many sports psychologists kick start their career with an internship as this can be really beneficial to set you apart from the competition. Gain at least 2 years of clinical work experience in order to gain the relevant on the job skills necessary. You will also be required to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This is a requirement if you want to work in any of the states in the US and once completed you can practice as a licensed sports psychologist.
Many sports psychologists combine consultancy work with education by teaching or researching in other areas of psychology. Others opt for full-time employment with a professional sports team.