Do You Need a PhD to Become a Sports Psychologist?

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Fitness & Sport Management Blog

As stated by the American Psychological Association, the area of psychology analyses a person’s mind and how, what goes on in an individual’s mind, affects the manner in which they behave. There are various branches of psychology, such as clinical psychology as well as industrial psychology, to name but a few. Although they are not medical doctors, psychologists are health professionals who are allied to the medical profession. In addition, they are registered with the body that regulates the health-care profession.

The term ‘sports psychology’ refers to an essential field in the world of fitness as well as and sporting performance. These professionals make sure that athletes receive the mental and emotional support so that they stay at the top of their game, irrespective of what life throws at them. A sports psychologist is just as important, in the life of an athlete, as a sports coach or a sports manager is.

So this begs the question: do you require a PhD to open a sports psychology practice? Not if you’re proposing to offer soft skills sports psychology. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the difference between soft skills versus licensed sports psychology is. We will also take a more detailed look at how to get a head start in the field of sports psychology.

Licenced Sports Psychology

This division of sports psychology necessitates a licence to practice. On a daily basis, this type of sports psychologist will perform duties such as:

  • Counselling athletes, as well as
  • Assisting sportsmen and -women with correcting any performance issues which have psychological origins.

A bachelor’s degree will be responsible for opening up some doors in the licensed sports psychology field. This is as long as you have a major in psychology as well as one or two sports-related electives. To learn where you can follow this type of qualification, you’ll need to have a look at the websites of various universities or fitness colleges.

If you rather want to become a clinical or applied sports psychologist, it is not possible for you to just stop at an undergraduate qualification. You’ll require at least a master’s degree and the best positions usually require a doctorate.

Clinical sports psychologists advise sportswomen and sportsmen who confront issues ranging from anxiety as well as performance barriers, to changing their behaviour in addition to how they respond to injuries and slumps. This means that to assist athletes to deal with these issues effectively, the sports psychologist will need to have the tools that this kind of advanced degree will give them.

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Soft Skills Sports Psychology

As sports psychology is of an interdisciplinary nature, one does not need to go along the path of clinical or, alternatively, applied sports psychology in their usual formats. Soft skills development, from a sports psychology perspective, with teams and individual athletes is just as crucial. You don’t need to be licenced to do so.

‘Hard skills’, from a sports psychology point of view, are the technical aspects. These are, for instance, such as diagnosing disorders and designing mental techniques to help athletes when they perform their particular sports. Sports psychologists who offer soft skills coaching assist athletes with issues such as:

  • Clarifying and upholding values,
  • Setting as well as achieving personal goals, and
  • Ensuring there is a regular healthy dose of encouragement present at all times.

Some offer the argument that soft skills are just as significant as those which are developed through clinical as well as applied sports psychology.

What type of individual should become a sports psychologist?

It takes a particular type of individual to be a sports psychologist:

  • First of all, if you want to follow this career path you’ve got to be passionate about sport. Even better, you’ve got to be a keen sportsperson.
  • As you need to get into your patient’s head and feel what they’re struggling with on an ongoing basis, it is advantageous that you have experienced the trials and tribulations yourself. When your patients describe what they’re struggling with, you need to know how this feels. The only way to accomplish this is if you’ve had these experiences yourself.

As well as being passionate about sports, to be a fantastic sports psychologist you need to be a phenomenal listener. Remember that the technique with any type of psychology is to allow the patient to come to the realisation – of what they need to do – themselves. You can’t tell them what to do as if they feel they are doing something as they ‘have to’ do it, chances are excellent that they will end up giving up on the practice.

There are a lot of roads that you can take to becoming a sports psychologist. You don’t necessarily need a PhD to enter the profession as there are other avenues – like soft skills sports psychology – that you can take.

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