Sports psychology careers often fall into one of two camps: applied sports psychology and clinical sports psychology. The credentials needed to get into either of these fields and pursue your dream to become a sports psychologist usually require a minimum of some kind of graduate education from an accredited institution as well as some field experience and an examination. Sport psychology jobs may be rewarding for someone deeply interested in both psychology and athletics.
Applied sports psychology refers to the type of work that helps enable athletes to achieve their maximum performance. It involves training athletes in the necessary skills to evolve in their sport. This does not merely include physical exercise, but mental. For example, when an athlete is mentally tough, they tend to perform better. Mental toughness refers to self-confidence, the ability to adapt to pressure conditions, possessing high levels of motivation, etc. The job of the sports psychologist is to educate athletes about these traits and to train them in habituating these attitudes. Champion professional and college teams often thrive when they are able to successfully adopt these winning characteristics.
Clinical sports psychology refers to the efforts of psychologists to take the strategies of applied sports psychology and psychotherapy and apply them to treating individuals who suffer from disorders. Often times you will find clinical psychologists employed in hospitals working with individuals with brain injuries or with neurological damage. Mental illness, abnormal behaviors, and eating disorders are popular work fields, too. These types of careers focus much less on athletes per se and more on the theoretical application of sports psychology on individuals suffering from unfortunate conditions. It is a field more concerned with restitution to an original or normative performance than a concern with peaking physical performance.
Individuals interested in a career in either applied sports psychology and clinical sports psychology may benefit from participating in a sports psychology internship. Sports psychology jobs require lots of education and experience, both of which take place after a bachelor’s degree has been earned. Many college grads opt to simply volunteer for an internship before moving onto a master’s degree program. But this may not be practical or financially advantageous. Some sports psychology graduate programs, however, offer a practicum, giving qualified students an opportunity to pursue a sports psychology internship as part of its curriculum.