Guide to Sports Psychology Specialization

The west is fascinated and thrilled by sports, with just about every country, city and county assigning themselves to a specific team. At this point in time, the sports market within the U.S. is estimated to bring in about $400 billion every year in revenue. Because of people's infatuation with sports, players are constantly under an enormous amount of pressure to perform optimally and teams are always looking for ways to maximize their talent. For this reason, a certain amount of the funding that goes towards running a sports team is set aside for practices that improve their perform, such as sports psychology.

A couple of decades ago, sports psychologists were virtually unheard of, although these days, they can be seen working alongside various teams, from Olympians to smaller teams that rarely perform overseas. One of the facets that make sports psychologists so appealing is that they aren't limited to a specific sport; their services can be utilized across the board, from ballet to baseball.

Various Roles

Supporting student athletes is one of the opportunities available to sports psychologists. Athletes who fall into this category need assistance in maintaining what is called sound "mental hygiene". This allows them to stay in top shape on the field, as well as in the classroom.

Another position open to sports psychologists is within the military, where they assist soldiers in preparing for battle. In these situations, they are known as Performance Enhancement Specialists, although they require virtually the same qualifications as a sport psychologist.

Earnings

When it comes to earnings, sports psychologists can expect to earn anything between $60,000 and $80,000 per year. In some cases, the salary could jump to $100,000, depending on the position of the psychologist. Those looking into this career might want to keep in mind that when it comes to private practice, there isn't a ceiling, or for that matter a floor, when it comes to earnings, and this is particularly appealing to many professionals.

Qualifications

Graduate students who are considering entering into the field of sports psychology will need to keep in mind that they need to be a licensed psychologist in order to do so. This means that a master's or doctoral degree with a specialization in sports psychology is integral to their career goals. While there are universities that offer specific sports-related programs, there are students who choose to take a somewhat more convoluted path towards their career goal by opting for a counseling or a clinical doctoral program, all the while opting for additional sports medicine, kinesiology and physiology classes.

It should be noted that this field is still relatively new, which means that it is evolving on a continuous basis.

Advice For Graduate Students

Anyone interested in signing up for a career in sports psychology will most likely want to obtain a mentor that can help guide them in the right direction. It might be a good idea to make contact with the sport psychologist that is currently working within the athletic department of the university the student is attending. What is more, the Association for Applied Sports Psychology is offering a program whereby they align sports psychology students with mentors.

Is It The Right Option For You?

One of the most important questions any graduate student should ask themselves when considering registering for a master's or doctorate in this field is whether it is indeed the right option for them. As many professional sports psychologists say, one of the most challenging aspects of this job is the clients that they work with. These individuals are usually very high achievers who are looking for instant results. These individuals also spend a lot of time on the road, traveling with the teams, and this means that they have little downtime on these trips. Many find working so closely with their clients to be one of the most rewarding facets of their job, however, although this isn't for everyone.

It is imperative that sports psychologists ensure they are caring for their own well being while working with their clients. Psychologists in these positions will also need to walk a fine line between the needs and desires of the team, the coach and the individual players. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of this sort of position.

Applying for a Master's Or Doctoral Program

As with any master's or doctoral program, students will need to keep in mind that there are usually a limited number of positions available within the classes each year. The number depends on the institution and the popularity of the course, although it is usually very competitive. Any student looking to apply for a position within one of these classes will need to make sure that they have competitive grades and that they meet with all of the requirements of the institution. These requirements will usually be found on the application section of the site on which the course is advertised.

Duration of Study

A master's will usually take about 2 years to complete on a full time basis, while a doctorate will take about 3 years to complete, full time. Students will usually be able to register as qualified psychologists after they have completed their master's.

While it is common for students to enroll for their doctorate directly after they have finished their masters, many choose to wait until they have some experience in their field before starting their PhD. This decision is one that each student will need to make for themselves.

Sports psychology is a new and exciting field in which many graduated are becoming involved each and every year. As it continues to evolve, so will the offerings of institutions throughout the United States, and at some point in the future, this might become a staple offering at every university throughout the country. For now, however, graduate students will need to make sure that they are willing to face the challenges associated with this novel field and utilize every possible resource to carve a career for themselves within this challenging and thrilling industry.

References:

  • http://www.prospects.ac.uk/sport_and_exercise_psychologist_job_description.htm
  • http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/
  • http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2012/11/sport-psychology.aspx

Sports Psychology Programs by State

Indiana

Program Type Format
Thumb 225px university of indianapolis official seal
University of Indianapolis
1400 E Hanna Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227-3697
There are four different tracks available in the Clinical Science Masters Degree program offered by the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, Found... [full profile]
Masters in Sports Psychology Master's Campus
PhD in Counseling Psychology with a subspecialty in Sports Psychology PhD/Doctorate Campus

Michigan

Program Type Format
Thumb umdearbornseal
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128-1491
There are two different specializations to choose from at the University of Michigan Dearborn Behavioral Sciences Department, these are Clinical Health Psychology and Health Psy... [full profile]
Masters in Sports Psychology Master's Campus
PhD in Counseling Psychology with a subspecialty in Sports Psychology PhD/Doctorate Campus