A Career as a Sports Psychologist is a Good One
In the field of psychology there are numerous specialized areas that are available. One of these niches is that of the sports psychologist. As with general psychology, the sports psychologist is required to complete graduate training and become licensed in the state of intended practice. Depending on where you intend to practice, some states require a Doctoral degree while in other states a sports psychologist can practice with a Masters degree.
- Through proper education, a sports psychologist will be able to:
- Encourage performance enhancement of the athletes
- Help athletes deal with specific issues and promote their mental and emotional well being
- Work directly with organizations, coaches, managers, and other individuals
- Deal with any mental and emotional deficiencies and developmental factors that affect sport
- participation How to Enter the Field of Psychology as a Sports Psychologist
Although sports psychology is not one of the more traditional fields of practice that is covered through psychology graduate programs, many psychology departments do offer courses in sport psychology. With this in mind, what credentials are needed and how does an individual interested in this specialized field get their foot in the door?
As of 2011, only a state license is required in order to legally practice as a sports psychologist. Certain standards and guidelines as set forth by Division 47 of the American Psychological Association regarding Sports and Exercise Psychology need to be adhered to in order to provide ethical service to this specialized field.
Although specialized training is not required, in order to actually practice as a valuable sports psychologist and serve the athletes properly, it is highly suggested to earn certification. The Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology offers such certification, and is the most reputable organization that does so. If you pursue this direction and are certified through the AAASP, there is the potential of advancing to the position of being listed with the United States Olympic Committee. From that point, a sport psychologist would have the benefit of being able to work with any and all teams as well as Olympic Athletes.
For more information on becoming a sports psychologist and how to gain the necessary experience in the field, there is a manual authored by Michael Sachs called The Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology which would be extremely useful.Gaining Experience in the Field of Sports Psychology
Other ways to gain the necessary experience in order to be employed as a sports psychologist will take a bit of creativity on your part. Perhaps shadowing a current sports psychologist or finding a coach who is willing to work with you.
Volunteering as a sports psychologist for athletic associations in your area is another way to start. Since it is such a specialized field with so few employment opportunities, except for professional teams, you’ll have to establish yourself and gain a solid reputation as a sports psychologist first.
Writing or blogging about your experience in sports psychology, even on a volunteer basis is another great way to gain recognition and break into the field.
Bottom line; if you have a love of sports and psychology, you shouldn’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dream of becoming a sports psychologist.