Do you have trouble staying focused during competition? Lack confidence during games, or simply choke during important competitive events? If you answered “yes- to any of these questions, then maybe you are wondering who you can go to for help. The answer is a sport psychologist. Many people don’t know what a sport psychologist is or what they do, they don’t know the credentials in becoming a sport psychologist, they don’t know what skills are needed to be successful, and for the people seeking to become sport psychologists, they don’t know what internships will make them more attractive to employers.
Scientists have been studying psychological aspects of sport for more than 100 years but yet it had not been recognized as a discipline until the 1970’s (Brewer, 4). The textbook definition of sport psychology is: (a) the study of the psychological and mental factors that influence and are influenced by participation and performance in sport, exercise, and physical activity, and (b) the application of the knowledge gained through this study to everyday settings (AAASPonline. org), but what do they really do, and who do they work with?If I had to state my dream career’, it would be to work in the field of psychology, science, and athletes. Thus forms the science of sport and exercise psychology. I would love to work around athletes, being one myself, and being able to help them perform better.
Although collegiate, professional, and elite amateur athletes have traditionally been the main recipients of sport and exercise psychology, professionals in the field have extended the scope to include youth competitors, adult recreational sport participants, and masters athletes, and many others (Brewer, 5).There is no “typical- sport psychologist; however, the field of study has expanded outside of playing fields and laboratories to include schools, health clubs, sports medicine clinics, counseling centers, and private practice offices (Brewer, 6). Many of the pros of working as a sport psychologist would be to work with a wide range of athletes, being surrounded by people who want to improve themselves, the ability to travel with teams, and to take in a lot of true data on the athlete’s world (Brewer, 17). However, there is a downside to this career as well.There are boundary issues, dual-role challenges, and the issue of termination “where there is a long-term close relationship between athlete and psychologist, and the bond is difficult to break (Brewer, 21). Before training in sport psychology, students at the undergraduate level typically receive a broad-based education in kinesiology (Brewer, 441). Some basic courses included are exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor learning and control, sport sociology, and sport and exercise psychology (Brewer, 441).
All of these courses are beneficial to the students as they prepare them for their careers.Once a student gets their bachelor’s degree, they must continue on to graduate school in order to earn their master’s degree before completing their PhD in Kinesiology with a specialization in sport psychology (Brewer, 444). After you earn your PhD in Kinesiology, you would continue on to get certified as a sport psychologist through organizations such as the AAASP or APA (AAASPonline. org). These professionals — who earn the designation, Certified Consultant, AAASP — have met a minimum in their education and training of the sport sciences and psychology, and they have also undergone an extensive review process (AAASPonline. rg).Once they have this title as sport psychologist, then they are qualified and can work anywhere in their field. In order to become a successful sport psychologist, many skills are required.
First, you must have a broad base of sports science, psychology, social sciences, and humanities classes (Brewer, 441). This strong base should provide the psychologist with increased knowledge to allow better communication with athletes, clients, and coaches. Then, you must have enthusiasm, commitment, and initiative in order to pursue your career (CSLUB. edu).
Sport psychologists must also have patience, intense people skills, and strong ethics in order to work with athletes (Hardy, 255). As with ethics, if there was a close bond between psychologist and athlete, and the needs of the athlete had already been met, then ethically, the psychologist must be strong enough to “let go- of that patient (Brewer, 21). This idea is known as termination, and many sport psychologists are known to occasionally have trouble with this (Brewer, 21). Understanding that sport and exercise psychology has just recently been identified as a discipline, the tactics used are still relatively new and “cutting edge-.For instance, sport psychologists focus on seven different aspects of psychological preparation for high level performance: basic psychological skills (relaxation, goal-setting, self-talk, and imagery and mental rehearsal), self-confidence, motivation, arousal and activation, stress and anxiety, concentration and attention control, and being able to cope with adversity (Hardy, v-ix).
It is a combination of these “new- techniques which make sport and exercise psychology a fast growing research field of science.Even more still, students at the undergraduate and graduate levels are continually asking, “What can I do to make myself more attractive to employers? – The answers vary. Most people would agree that internship working in sport or exercise settings is the best way to get noticed. Another important path of most graduate programs in kinesiology departments is to conduct research and then apply it to society (Brewer, 445). In order to be recognized by the AAASP or APA, many graduate students say that the pursuit of scholarship, research, and teaching helps them the most (CSLUB.
du).Others will sell themselves as consultants and public speakers, or apply what they have learned to other seemingly unrelated professions (CSLUB. edu). The AAASP also noted that if a student was interested in becoming AAASP certified it would be helpful to them to be acutely aware of the course offerings available at their universities and to the AAASP certification requirements (Brewer, 446). Each of these different methods will help graduate school, medical school, or a future employer notice you more.
If a person wanted to truly be successful as a sport and exercise psychologist, then they would need sufficient training in both kinesiology as well as psychology. Depending on which direction the student wanted to venture towards, it would vary the amount of each discipline used. People who were interested in applying interventions and the research process would have a heavier focus on kinesiology. While others who want to work in the field with athletes would need to know an extensive amount of psychological processes as well as the sport being practiced.Likewise, the researchers must be able to understand and apply the information in which they gain. Therefore, it is not necessary to be experts in either of these two fields, but a sports psychologist must have some skill in both. It requires a lot of skill, education, and internship in order to be come a sport psychologist, and you can normally find them working in research laboratories, on playing fields, at the pool, in clinics, and at schools and universities.
Overall, a sport psychologist is a great career choice because you get to travel, work with people, and research new and effective training techniques.