The field of sports psychology is fascinating and incredibly relevant to the modern world. As humans, no matter where we are from, we love sports. From children in the Favellas of Rio de Janeiro to multimillion dollar earning athletes, sports unite us. And the industry itself is huge. In this country alone, it generates around $400 billion per year, from equipment found in sports stores to tickets in the major league.
However, human beings have become so passionate about sport, that it has become a psychological issue. Athletes are under tremendous pressure to perform to the right standards. Spectators become so engrossed in the game that they become aggressive. Talent scouts work 80 hours a week in order to identify the next great player. No longer is sports solely about being physically fit, it is about the psychological impact as well, and this affects every level of society.
This is where the sports psychologist comes in. To become a sports psychologist, you will need to complete a doctorate degree in this particular field. This means you have to make a significant investment in terms of both time and money. Nevertheless, most people will tell you that it is an investment worth making, because the rewards are substantial as well. So what are the things you can do with a sports psychology degree?
- You can work with Olympian athletes or other elite athletes, to ensure that they achieve top performance in terms of their mental preparation and ability.
- You can work with performing artists outside of the sports arena, particularly as the field of “sports psychology” is increasingly being renamed as “performance psychology”.
- You can work with top executives in any field to ensure they perform as optimal as possible.
- You can become a mentor to other students of sports psychology. According to the Association for Applied Sports Psychology, having a mentor is vital for the successful completion of a sports psychology degree.
- You can help develop the sports psychology degree of the future, making sure its core components and elective courses are relevant to the needs of the sports and performance industry. At present, for instance, the degree is based on counseling or clinical psychology, with the addition of classes, such as business and marketing, sports medicine, physiology, and kinesiology.
- You can work with people from any level of society who want to be challenged to become the best they can be. What makes this interesting is that, unlike in other fields of psychology, you will not work with people who have a serious issue that they need to resolve. Rather, you will work with those who are already doing very well, and helping them to find ways to become even better.
- You will have the opportunity to develop the necessary ethics surround top sports. For instance, many athletes are under a great deal of pressure from their teams and sponsors, to such a degree that their performance actually suffers as a result. As a sports psychologist, you will become an advocate for the mental health of performers.
- You will be able to travel on the road with different teams, including some very famous athletes. This allows you to see the country, and even the world, and experience, to a degree, how the other half lives. You do, however, have to demonstrate that you can maintain confidentiality at all times.
- The knowledge you will have obtained while pursuing your degree and through experience, can also be applied to yourself. You can recognize when you are pushing yourself too far, and when you need to step back and engage in positive thinking for a minute. As such, you have the potential to improve your own life, and that of your loved ones, as well.
- You can provide various counseling services, helping to develop them depending on the specific industry you work in, while focusing on fitness, exercise, and performance.
- You can become a researcher and assessor, determining how physical performance and mental state are interrelated.
- You can help to determine what an individual’s strengths and weaknesses are. In fact, many sports psychologists who get tired of being on the road go on to become consultants and career advisors for those who had to leave the field of professional sports.
- You can become involved in the latest tools and technologies, using various visualization techniques to help improve performance. At the same time, you can be at the forefront of new scientific discoveries, and help to implement these in the field of professional sports.
- You can become an independent researcher, no longer working directly with athletes to improve their performance, but rather developing new tools and techniques that other sport psychologists can then implement and apply.
- You can become a college team psychologist, working with young people who are often tempted to focus too much on sport, and not enough on their education. Your role will be focused on finding a balance between the two, often working with those who have earned a sports scholarship. A strong focus will be on dealing with issues that happen off the field.
- You can become a clinical sports psychologist, whereby you provide one to one therapy to athletes. You will work with them to make them more motivated, stop them from being afraid of competition, and help them manage stress and balance their lives. In this particular role, you are likely to earn a six figure income.
- You can move outside of the world of sports psychology and become involved in other fields that are linked to it. Some positions that you may want to consider include:
- Athletic trainer
- Industrial organizational psychologist
- Clinical, counseling and school psychologist
- Fitness trainer
- Aerobics instructor
- Physical therapist
- Recreational therapist
- Coach or scout
- Most of these roles will only require a small degree of additional training, so it is relatively easy to make a career change.
- You can work in a variety of settings. These include sports agents, private practices, training centers, sports academies, and hospitals.
- You could become an academic, teaching psychology at a university, working with a school’s athletic department, or becoming a consultant for professional sport groups.
- You could take on a wealth of positions in athletic development, including sports welfare officer, lifestyle coordinator, director of player services, career advisor, liaison officer, and more.
- You could continue to study and complete various specialization courses so that you will truly become an expert in your field. Specialties include sports and the impact on personal life, enhancing performance, team building, life transitions, imagery, substance abuse, self-esteem, managing fame, grief, anger, burnout, the environment and its impact on sports performance, motivational training, anxiety and arousal, and more.
As you can see, as a sport psychology degree holder, there is a wealth of opportunities out there for you. Demand for your skills is incredibly high, and you could work in a variety of different locations.
- What Is Exercise Psychology and Sport Psychology? (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.apadivisions.org/division-47/about/resources/what-is.aspx
- Psychologists – Job Outlook (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm