Sports psychology training programs offer a unique blend of psychology and kinesiology courses designed to help train students how to impact relevant aspects athletic performance and motivation. While some may pursue opportunities at the undergraduate level, students may be better prepared for a career in this competitive field by earning a graduate degree. However, with a limited number of sports psychology graduate programs, students may find it valuable to also investigate health and exercise psychology programs that may also afford opportunities to explore applications in sports. APA accredited programs, which provide students with specific courses necessary for psychology licensure might also increase the available scope of practice.

Sports Psychologist Education Requirements

Sports psychology courses within a chosen program may help build a solid foundation for pursuing a future career as a sports psychologist. Sports psychology curriculums will vary among programs. But at the master’s degree level, students may encounter courses in the following topics:

  • communication skills training
  • motivation and exercise adherence
  • team development and communication
  • stress management and psychophysiology
  • imagery, visualization, and psychological skills
  • exercise physiology
  • biomechanics
  • strength and conditioning
  • applied sports psychology
  • cognitive processes
  • motor skills learning
  • sport personality
  • motivation
  • exercise adherence
  • group/team development
  • stress management
  • attention and concentration
  • imagery and visualization
  • psychological skills training
  • leadership development

Students should anticipate an average of two years to complete necessary coursework to earn a master’s, including an internship in sports psychology, if applicable. However, if a career in sports psychology research is an ultimate goal, then an additional two or more years of coursework may be required in order to earn a PhD.

Sports Psychology Certification

Beyond the basic sports psychology education requirements, students may also choose to further their qualifications by obtaining a certification in sports psychology. The Association for Applied Sports Psychologyi and the American Board of Sports Psychology are the primary bodies responsible for issuing and overseeing certifications for individuals holding masters or doctorate degrees[ii]. Graduates with necessary qualifying courses and 300-400 hours of mentored experience may be qualified to submit an application for review by the certification review committee three times throughout the year[iii].

Sports Psychology Training Methodologies

Altogether, sports psychology may be a field of opportunities for those interested in the application of kinesiology and psychology in relation to athlete performance and motivation across many arenas. Those interested in pursuing a career in sports psychology should consider the available program options to determine whether an online or on-campus university format would best fit their needs as well as the amount of work required to achieve the needed advanced level of education. However, for those with a passion for sports, exercise, and mental health; Sports Psychology Training may prove to be an ideal choice.

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Sources: [i] appliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/become-a-certified-consultant/ | [ii] abpp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3290 | [iii] ppliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/become-a-certified-consultant/