Being an athlete is no simple task. Regardless of whether or not they are an amateur or in the big leagues, a good athlete needs to be at peak performance if they want to succeed in their career. One person who can help you maintain your performance is a sports psychologist. In this post, we will discuss what a sports psychologist does and how they can benefit athletes.
Sports Psychologists Services
The best way to talk about sports psychologists is to talk about all the services they provide. A sports psychologist provides services related to sports and any issues you may have outside the game. Here are some common issues.
One issue many athletes face is burnout. If an athlete is constantly participating in sports, the activity can grow tiring or stale. This can cause their performance and interest to lessen, hurting their career as an athlete.
To prevent burnout, adequate rest and mixing up their performance is needed. A sports psychologist helps the player spot early signs of burnout and prevent them or reinvigorate the players if burnout does strike.
Sometimes, a player is injured. All it takes is one slip-up for a broken bone to happen. The player may feel discouraged because of their injury and may be frustrated that they have to sit it out as they heal. A psychologist helps to monitor the athlete's health to find symptoms that may lead to injury down the road. If an athlete is injured, a psychologist can help keep their spirits up, teach them how they can recover faster, and allow them to train to return in a way that's safe for them.
Miscommunications happen all the time. In the office, in relationships, and especially in sports. Most sports require communication and teamwork, and often, an athlete thinks they've communicated to their teammates properly. However, it turns out there was a miscommunication, and this can cost the team the game. There will be much frustration and finger-pointing as a result. A sports psychologist helps to spot any miscommunications and teaches everyone how to communicate in the most effective manner possible. Often, we assume the person knows what we want, leading to the team's downfall.
Everyone uses their energy in different ways, and in a sports game, this is important. Some players use too much energy in the beginning, making them fail in the end. Others do not use enough energy. It's important to find the balance of using a healthy amount of energy until it's made or break. Then, you can use more energy. Regulating your energy is hard work, and a psychologist can measure your energy levels and teach you how they can be regulated.
Mindfulness is when you are completely aware of the present and the sights and sounds around you. This technique is great for many things. Being more self-aware, not letting worries get you down, find out any changes in your body. There are quite a few reasons to be mindful. In sports, mindfulness is a good thing to have. Every sound and sight needs to be observed to win. You need to be focused on what's going on around you and not be preoccupied with something else. A psychologist can teach you how to be as mindful as possible.
The best players are the ones who have confidence, even when they lose. To be the best athlete, you have to accept failure at times. Even the best players lose a game, miss the shot, or let their team down. Athletes fail to let those losses get to them, while confident athletes use their losses as a way to learn. A confident player is hard to come by, and a psychologist will try to make you as confident as possible. Also, there is such a thing as being too confident. Overly cocky players may end up eating their words.
One reason why teams fail is due to conflict. Conflict with your coaches, conflict with other players, and even conflicts outside your athletic career can lead to your team's failure. A sports psychologist is here to listen to all the grievances you and your teammates may have because of conflict and then help find any solutions that can please everyone. However, sometimes conflict resolution may favor one side, and the psychologist can help the losing side cope and learn to play fair.
In sports, it's common to choke. This is when a player messes up during an important part of the game. For example, a player does great in the beginning and then slips up during the second half. Or a player needs to make the winning shot and then misses the last second. When everything is relying on you, choking can make everyone feel disappointed. Your mind can make you slip up during a desperate time. A psychologist can figure out why you choke and how you can prevent yourself from doing it again.
Sometimes, you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or have other emotions going on. You may feel depressed during game time or in another bad mood. The problem is that you need to put your emotions to the side to succeed in the game. A psychologist can teach you how to regulate your emotions. If you're angry, you can learn how to use that anger to your advantage. If you're depressed, you can learn how to overcome that slump and put on your best game.
This is a bit similar to mindfulness, but it requires your brain to put all of its intention on one object. For example, if you're a baseball player, you need to focus on the ball as it's being pitched. One distraction and you get a strike, a foul ball, or you don't hit the ball well. A psychologist can teach you how to focus and fix any issues you may have with focusing.
Sometimes, you lead the team. When you're a team leader, you need to learn leadership skills. You need to learn how to be assertive but not overbearing. You need to make the rules and make sure your team sticks to them. It can be hard to lead, but a psychologist can help you find flaws in your leadership skills and then fix them.
When you transition to another team, it cannot be easy at first. New teammates, new coaches, and a new wardrobe. How they play may be different than what you're used to. You may feel a longing for your old team, but you can't go back. A psychologist is here to make the transition as smooth as possible. Through coaching, you can learn to make friends with your new teammates while not letting the memories of your old team ruin your experience.
Sometimes, a sports psychologist will invite the entire team in for some group therapy. Building a relationship with other teammates is important. You all have to work together, so it's good that you're comfortable together. If there are any issues and grievances, a psychologist can help squash any problems before they affect the game. The psychologist will use icebreakers and other social techniques to bond and have a good time with each other. If the team isn't bonded, there can be issues. Not every teammate will be best friends, but they all need to be in good standing with each other to succeed.
A sports psychologist will check your performance, along with the performance of other teammates. This maintenance test is important if the team wants to succeed. Performance checks can help the team figure out whether there are any issues and prevent them before they can ruin the performance. Performance checks may require a mental and physical examination and a review.
Your Personal Life
issues, your relationships at home, and other problems. Sometimes, your troubles can bleed into the game. If you're a star athlete, your personal life will probably be watched, and any mess-up can affect your reputation. A sports psychologist is not only there to improve your performance in the field but at home as well.
When should you seek out a sports psychologist? You'll want to talk to one throughout your athletic career. Sports are complicated, and there are many issues you want to discuss and improve upon if you want to succeed. Having a sports psychologist handy to talk about any grievances you may have is important.
If you're considering a career in sports, make sure every aspect of your life is up to snuff. Your personal and professional life needs to be great for your performance to be the best it can be.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the role of a sports psychologist?
A sport psychologist provides guidance and specialized counseling to athletes, whether in a school environment, a professional team, or applied psychology programs. Sport psychology professionals help athletes manage the daily stresses, which can be very intense and emotionally demanding. Sports psychology focuses on health psychology research and therapy meant to promote holistic health among athletes. Applied sport psychology includes counseling and support for athletes who experience insecurities, performance anxiety, burnout, and trauma — all of which are common for athletes. A sport psychologist can understand where a regular clinical psychology professional might not.
What qualifications do you need to be a sports psychologist?
Those who are interested in sports psychology careers should have a thorough understanding of physiology and kinesiology. A good sports psychologist must take a whole-person approach to the athlete, treating their mental health as it relates to their physical stress and wellness. Sport psychology professionals need to have a good grasp of the mind–body connection and provide compassionate yet practical support for athletes who struggle with performance issues, team dynamics, and mood regulation. Sports psychology is a highly applied field, with many opportunities for a sport psychologist to perform both research and counseling.
How much does a sports psychologist make a year?
As in any psychology career, how much you earn as a sports psychologist depends somewhat on your placement and available psychology resources. But in general, sports psychology careers are well-paid. According to the American Psychological Association, a sport psychologist who works for a university athletics department doing applied sport psychology generally earns about $60,000 to $80,000 per year. Psychology professionals who provide sport psychology counseling in private practice may earn up to $100,000 per year.
Is Sports Psychology a good career?
Sports psychology careers can be incredibly rewarding. The fields of exercise psychology and health psychology offer a lot of flexibility for psychologists who want to nourish patients’ overall well-being. In applied sports psychology, they can support athletes in their professional and mental growth, which can be very rewarding. Unlike standard clinical psychology, there are many potentials for a sport psychologist to get out of the office and into the field, helping patients navigate their everyday lives and pursue their dreams. If you’re interested in a sports psychology career, many psychology programs are now offering options.
Does sports psychology really work?
Sports psychology uses the same theories, principles, and techniques of standard psychology and exercise competition and team dynamics. Applied sport psychology puts these ideas toward athletes’ and teams’ needs. Just like anyone who performs a high-stress, high-risk activity, athletes can benefit from clinical psychology, talk therapy, trauma-informed counseling, and interpersonal skills coaching. A sport psychologist blends their physiology and psychology knowledge to provide an empathetic ear and fine-tuned treatment plans. Plus, they conduct valuable research and perform applied sport psychology to help sports organizations encourage high performance and create more cohesive, healthy teams.
What do sports psychologists do daily?
Depending on their specialty, a sport psychologist may meet with patients, perform clinical psychology, consult with sports organizations, or conduct research in exercise psychology or sports psychology. Some sport psychology professionals will provide specialized clinical psychology to help promote good mental health. Other sports psychologists focus on their field's educational aspect, teaching athletes how to set goals, build teams, and motivate their performance. In applied sport psychology, they will address team dynamics or trauma recovery. There is also a vibrant field of research in sports psychology and exercise psychology. A sport psychologist can study the relationships among physical activity, health psychology, competition, and mental illness. Sports psychology careers are highly engaging and innovative.
Are sports psychologists in demand?
There is a heavy need for sports psychologists and sports psychology research as long as there are sports. Some organizations have come under fire for their alleged negative health impact on their athletes in recent years. Sports psychology is a rapidly growing field intersecting research and clinical psychology. A sport psychologist can help make sure that every team member is fully cared for, especially if they are experiencing mental illness. The potential for sport psychology careers is definitely high as more psychology professionals call for improved training conditions and psychology resources for sports organizations. Many psychology programs now offer sports specializations.