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What Do Sports Psychologist Jobs Involve?

Published: Friday 29th May 2015


Female Psychologist sat down posing for the camera

Sports psychologists study and work with the mental and emotional effects of participating in sport in particular and exercise in general. Their aim is to help athletes deal with the demands of their chosen sport. They also help to improve an athlete’s personal development and performance. Sports psychology is the ideal career for people who are interested in sport, psychology and in helping other people reach their goals and potential.

Sports psychologists help sports people at every level (from amateur to the highest international professional levels) to overcome psychological problems and barriers, enhance their performance and achieve their career and sporting goals.

Professional athletes and competitors seek regular help from professional sports psychologists. In the same way personal trainers, coaches, nutritionists and sports therapists prepare the body, the sports psychologist job is to prepare a competitor’s mind.

sports psychologist jobs focus on the behaviour, thinking processes and mental well-being of athletes, teams and sporting organisations. With individuals, sports psychologists focus on how athletes are performing and thinking but within a team, the sports psychologist is concerned about gelling the individuals together in the best possible way.

What Do Individuals In Sports Psychologist Jobs Do?

To be a successful sports psychologist you will need to have a genuine desire to help people but be able to maintain a professional distance.

Sports psychologists need to assess client’s needs, behaviours and abilities. They monitor sporting performance before, during and after assessment and treatment to ensure they are achieving the desired results.

At times athletes will seek help when they have a problem which is impairing their performance. This could be becoming anxious during a competition or losing focus during training and preparation. They may have issues with self-confidence or have become withdrawn from team mates and support networks, or simply be suffering from a general lack of motivation. Due to high pressured environments, sports people can also suffer from aggression. Sports psychologists can help to deal with and channel this anger and frustration in a positive way.

After assessment, the role of the sports psychologist will then be to devise and implement a strategy to help the client overcome these difficulties. Sports psychologists can also help to build and reinforce positive behaviour patterns.

Some of the tools and strategies they use are as follows:

● Mental strategies: Tools such as visualisation, self-talk and relaxation techniques can help an athlete to give their best performance.

● Athletes can often be under pressure from family, coaches, the public and their own expectations. Sports psychologists can help to deal with those expectations. They can also help people to cope with nerves and anxiety.

● Exercise and lifestyle: Exercise psychologists help athletes to get and stay motivated by following a program of exercise and nutrition.

● Working with young people:They can help young people become interested in sporting activities. For youth athletes they can support them mentally through the pressures associated with expectation and performance.

● Focus: Sports psychologists can provide mental tools to help focus and concentrate on training or competition as well as setting goals.

Where Do Sports Psychologists Work?

Sports psychologists can work for sports clubs, in clinical settings, with wider sporting organisations or work as self-employed psychologists. Schools and colleges may also hire sports psychologists to work with sports teams or to motivate pupils in general to participate more in sports and lead healthier lifestyles. You could be based with a club or in a clinic, your own office or travel to clients on an ad-hoc basis.

What Can Sports Psychologists Earn?


What you could earn depends on where you work and who you work for. Starting salaries vary between £20,000 and £22,000. Experienced psychologists could earn between £27,000 and £37,000. At the upper end senior sports psychologists can earn £48,000. Consultancy work for international level athletes can pay up to £1,000 per day.

What Are The Qualifications and Entry Requirements For Sports Psychology Jobs?


To become a qualified sports psychologist you will need to do a three-year degree in psychology, followed by a Master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology followed by two years of supervised practice.

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