Why You Should Seek Out A Sports Psychologist

Updated April 8, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
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Strong mental health is essential to an athlete's success

Being an athlete is no simple task. Regardless of the sport or whether someone is 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 both on and off the field.

How a sports psychologist can help

The best way to learn more about how sports psychologists can help athletes is to talk about all the services they provide. A sports psychologist can offer services related to issues you may have inside or outside the game—or both. Here are some common issues athletes may need support with:


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 a sport/life balance is needed. A sports psychologist helps the player spot early signs of burnout and prevent them or reinvigorate the players if burnout does strike.

Coping with injury

Sometimes, a player gets injured during a game. All it takes is one slip-up for a broken bone to happen. The player may feel discouraged because of their injury and be frustrated that they have to sit out as they heal. A sports psychologist helps to monitor the athlete's health to find symptoms that may lead to further injury down the road. If an athlete is injured, a sports psychologist can help keep their spirits up, teach them how to recover more quickly, and help 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 may turn out there was a miscommunication, and this caused a team to lose a game. There may be much frustration and finger-pointing as a result. A sports psychologist helps to spot any communication breakdowns and teaches everyone involved how to communicate in the most effective manner possible. 

Energy control

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Everyone uses their energy in different ways, and in an athletic endeavor, this is important. Some players use too much energy in the beginning of a sporting event, 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 make or break. Then, you can use more energy. A sports psychologist can help an athlete manage their mental energy.


Mindfulness is when you are completely aware of the present and the sights and sounds around you. This technique is great for many things. Mindfulness can help you become more self-aware, learn how to keep worries from getting you down, and be aware of any changes in your body. 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 sports psychologist can teach you how to be as mindful as possible.


The best athletes 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. Insecure athletes may allow losses to get to them, while confident athletes use those losses as a way to learn. Confidence can be hard to come by for some athletes, and a sports psychologist will work to help you become as confident as possible. Also, there is such a thing as being too confident. Overly cocky players may end up eating their words. A sports psychologist can help with this, too.

Conflict resolution

One reason why some teams fail comes down to conflict—conflict with coaches, conflict with other players, and even conflicts outside the field can lead to a 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 solutions that work for everyone. However, sometimes conflict resolution may favor one side, and a sports psychologist can help the losing side cope and learn to play fair.

Overcoming choking 

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 at 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 sports psychologist can help to figure out why you choked and teach you how you can prevent yourself from doing it again.

Emotion control

Sometimes, you may wake up on the wrong side of the bed or have other emotions going on. You may feel depressed during game time or have other emotions affecting you. The problem is that you need to put your emotions to the side to succeed in a game. A sports psychologist can teach you how to control 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 focus 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 sports psychologist can work with you on any issues you may have with focusing.


Strong mental health is essential to an athlete's success

Sometimes, you're the team leader. When you're a team leader, you need to possess 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 sports psychologist can not only help you build leadership skills, but also help you find flaws in your leadership skills and fix them.


When you transition to another team, it may not be easy at first. New teammates, new coaches, and a new wardrobe are part of the change. How the new team plays may be different from what you're used to. You may feel a longing for your old team, but you can't go back. A sports psychologist is there to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Through coaching with a sports psychologist, you can learn to make friends with your new teammates while not letting the memories of your old team ruin your experience.

Team building

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 vital that you're comfortable together. If there are any issues and grievances, a sports psychologist can help squash any problems before they affect the game. A sports psychologist will use icebreakers and other social techniques to help a team bond and have a good time with each other. If the team isn't bonded, that can result in painful losses. Not every teammate will be best friends, but they all need to be in good standing with each other to succeed.

Performance checks

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 from a sports psychologist can help the team figure out whether there are any issues and prevent them before they can ruin a performance. Performance checks may require a mental and physical examination and a review.

Your personal life

Personal issues, your relationships at home, and other problems can bleed into the game. If you're a star athlete, your personal life will probably be watched, and any slip-up can affect your reputation. A sports psychologist is not only there to improve your performance in the field but at home as well.

Build confidence in online therapy

As you can see, there are many valuable services a sports psychologist provides. You may wonder when you should seek out a sports psychologist. You may want to talk to one throughout your athletic career. Sports are complicated, and there are many issues you may 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.

The life of an athlete is a busy one. If you're interested in therapy to help improve your performance, you may well want to seek help online. Online therapy is quite popular these days, and since online therapy can be done anywhere there's an internet connection, help can be found at home and away.

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that offers connections to licensed therapists trained to help people with your specific needs. All you need to do is fill out a questionnaire, and you will be matched with someone who can help. You can speak to a therapist via text, telephone, or video, whichever you can fit in in between games.


If you're considering a career in sports, make sure every aspect of your life is up to snuff, including your mental health. Both your personal and professional life need to be in great shape for your performance to be the best it can be.

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