Career in Sports Psychology

The field of sports psychology draws from several disciplines, including psychology, physical fitness and sports science. This allows students to take various educational pathways based on the career track they wish to pursue. Career options for sports psychologists may include counselling and therapy, teaching and research.

Clinical and Applied Sports Psychologists

Clinical sports psychologists typically counsel athletes facing personal and career crises such as anxiety, performance issues, behavior modification and mental responses to physical injuries. Applied sports psychologists instruct individual athletes and sports teams on the various methods of mental conditioning, including visualization, concentration and relaxation techniques. Many sports psychologists work onsite with sports teams alongside coaches, trainers and managers. Others practice independently and perform consulting services on an as – needed basis.

Sports Psychology Career Information

According to a salaryexpert.com 2010 job survey, average annual salaries for sports psychologists ranged from $63,000 to $85,000. Salaries vary based on the psychologist’s area of specialization and experience, the employing organization and the amount of advanced training received. Experienced psychologists working for professional sports teams or professional athletes may earn six – figure salaries, while those working in educational or research settings receive more modest salaries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook is best for sports psychologists with a doctoral degree in their specialty ( www.bls.gov ). Positions for potential psychologists with master’s degrees are limited and candidates may face intense competition for the available jobs. Sports psychologists with master’s degrees may expect to work as assistant counselors or in research positions, directly supervised by licensed psychologists. Time spent volunteering with sports teams or interning under the supervision of sport and exercise psychology professionals may also be helpful in obtaining full – time positions.

Education Requirements for Sports Psychology

Entry – level positions for licensed sports psychologists typically require a master’s or doctorate degree in clinical psychology, sports psychology or counselling. Very few schools currently offer full sports and exercise psychology programs at the undergraduate or graduate level. Undergraduate students may consider pursuing double majors in psychology and exercise science, or a major in one discipline with a minor in the second.

Graduate and post-graduate students typically complete advanced coursework in exercise science, kinesiology and clinical psychology. A 1 – year internship through a program approved by the American Psychological Association ( APA ) may be an additional requirement for graduation. Continuing education and training is available through several professional organizations, including the APA and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, once state licensing or certification as a psychologist is obtained.

Role of a Sports Psychologist

Sports psychologists perform a range of tasks that relate to sports performance and education. They could serve several roles such as :

  • Assisting coaches and working with athletes to improve motivation levels.
  • Teaching at universities and working with athletic administrators. Here you could provide sports education and help implement ideas to maximize the overall well – being of athletes and other participants in sport settings.

Sports Psychology Salary

The best sports psychologists earn excellent pay packages as consultants for professional athletes, but most earn a more modest yearly income. The annual earnings of sports psychologists vary considerably depending on training, education and the area of specialization.

Outlook for Sports Psychology Employment

A growing awareness of the importance of mental health in sports has led to new opportunities for sports psychologists. With a master ( MS ) or PhD degree in sports psychology, you have the following employment options :

  • Sports psychologist
  • Prevention specialist
  • Enhanced performance trainer
  • Faculty member at a university

Sports psychologists find employment in sports departments at schools and colleges, where they are involved in physical education or sports science. They also find work in professional athletic associations or may practice privately as independent consultants.

Sports psychology careers are divided into the following three categories :

  • Applied sports psychologists, who work with teams or individuals
  • Clinical sports psychologists, who deal with sports – related psychological difficulties
  • Academic sports psychologists, who conduct research and teach sports psychology

As the interest in sports psychology advances, the career opportunities for those who are passionate about this field continue to grow. Having a sports background and a zest for athletic performance will definitely increase your chances for success in this exciting field.

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