How to Become a Sports Psychologist

If you’re interested in sports and psychology, you may be wondering how to become a Sports Psychologist. Sports has become big business, and consequently the need for psychologists specializing in sports related disciplines has grown as well.

The Need for Sports Psychologists

Due to the highly competitive nature of sports at all levels, athletes find themselves exposed to constant evaluations of their performance. The pressure to perform is intense. Sometimes injuries affect performance. At other times, athletes decide they have had enough and they give up the game on a voluntary basis. However, some athletes remain physically healthy yet unable to perform to the level that others believe they should. If there is no physical reason for performance that is lacking, the problems of these athletes are blamed on their mental game. A sports psychologist may be called in to get some athletes back on track.

What it Takes to be a Sports Psychologist

While sports psychology sounds like an interesting career, becoming a sports psychologist is not a simple task. Those who think they might desire such a position must consider whether or not they have the necessary skills and interests. Having the ability to work with others is critical. Knowledge of and participation in a variety of sports is also desirable. Those who enjoy working alone and are happiest being involved in their world only should probably look elsewhere for a career.

Education, Training, and Certification

As far as required education is concerned, there are very few programs that are devoted entirely to sports psychology. Those wishing to get into the field of sports psychology typically major in areas such as psychology or sports science. Advanced degrees such as a masters or doctorate are often required for certain positions. Additional educational opportunities can come with training in the form of an internship. A certification is available to those with a doctorate degree consisting of certain coursework. There is also an experience requirement of 400 hours that must be met.

Roles and Responsibilities

Most people associate sports psychologists with professional athletes. While sports psychologists do work with professionals, they also take on many other roles and responsibilities. They are motivators and counselors. They can serve as clinical sports psychologists. In this role, they can address problems related to mental health. An example of this would be an athlete so concerned with losing weight they become anorexic. Educational institutions hire academic sports psychologists to teach the science.

The road to becoming a sports psychologist requires hard work and persistence in addition to a desire to help others and a love of sports. With the continued exposure of sports through the media, athletes will continue to play the biggest role in the business of sports. While doing so, these same athletes may some day find themselves in need of a sports psychologist.

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