Have you always been interested in sports? Do you want to work in a capacity related to this passion you have, but you know that you don’t want to be a professional athlete? Have you thought about working in an area of sports psychology? As a sports psychologist you will spend the majority of your time working with the physical and mental processes that are related to athletic performance. You will work to help a variety of types of athletes identify ways that they can address issues that they are dealing with and help them to better manage them as a means of maximizing their athletic performance.
Have you always had a love for the world of sports? Do you enjoy interacting with athletes? Have you decided that you would like to enter the work force in an area related to athletics? Maybe you should consider working as a sports psychologist. Keep reading to learn all you will need to know about this career path and what you may be doing during your work day in this profession.
Sports psychology is an interdisciplinary area of science that incorporates knowledge from the fields of psychology and kinesiology. In this profession you will be studying how psychological factors can affect an athlete’s performance, as well as how participation in sports and exercise can affect physical factors and psychological factors. In your position, you may find yourself responsible for instructing and training individuals regarding how psychological skills can improve performance, as well as applied sports psychology work with coaches, athletes, and parents. You may be working with these individuals regarding rehabilitation, sports related injuries, team building, communication, or career transitions.
Applied sports and exercise psychologists work to instruct specific individuals about the particular sport or activity that employs them. This would include talking with fitness professionals, groups, teams, coaches, exercisers, parents, or athletes regarding the sport or activity that they are involved in. In this profession you would operate under a goal of optimizing performance and enjoyment of the sport or activity through the use of psychological skills. It is important to understand that as of yet, it is not necessary to obtain a specific type of licensure or certification in order to practice as an applied sports psychologist.
Generally speaking, there are two types of sports psychologists: clinical and educational. Educational sports psychologists focus on the use of psychological skills training as they work with their clients. In this profession you will use tactics such as self-talk, imagery, goal setting, and energy management to educate and instruct your patients on how to use these same skills effectively to perform up to their potential. It is common for individuals in this occupation to have a sport science training degree or a kinesiology degree and to obtain certification through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Should you decide to work as a clinical or counseling sport psychologist you will likely think of sport psychology as being an application of psychological theories directed to a specific population. In this capacity you would be able to treat severe psychological problems like eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression. As a clinical or counseling psychologist it will be important for you to obtain proper licensure; this is largely due to the fact that the term psychologist will be a part of your title. In addition, it is quite common for individuals who work as a clinical or counseling psychologist to feel that additional training would be beneficial to their performance on the job.
Personality is one of the main areas that you may find yourself focusing your work on as a sports psychologist. Personality identifies the relationship that exists between an athlete’s performance and personality. Factors such as self-efficacy, mental toughness, arousal, and motivation are all aspects of personality that are researched. It is also common for sports psychologists to conduct research in reference to team dynamics. This encompasses a team’s tendencies, beliefs, and issues as a whole team, as opposed to each individual player. Within this research aspect, you should expect to study team cohesion, leadership, and collective efficacy. Lastly, there are five techniques that you will likely be responsible for teaching a team in order to improve their performance: arousal regulation, goal setting, imagery, self-talk, and pre-performance routines.