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Jobs In Sports Psychology: How To Land Your Dream Job In Sports

Want to help professional athletes perform at their most optimal level? Or how about guide a struggling youth overcome his or her mental problems on the field or in the gym?

Well, how about becoming a sports psychologist. Sports psychologists focus on athletes’ and coaches’ minds — both young and old — in order to help them achieve their goals on and off the field of play. Additionally, sports psychologists assist athletes in recovering from injuries as well as coping with the day-to-day pressures of competition.

Types Of Jobs In Sports Psychology 

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0736074473″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NYrlyjxTL._SL160_.jpg” width=”112″] Jobs in sports psychology combine knowledge from psychology as well as  kinesiology. In addition, it analyzes how psychological factors affect athletic performance and conversely, how participation in sports affect psychological factors as well.

Along with instruction of psychological skills for performance, sports psychology can include work with coaches, athletes, and parents that involves injury, rehabilitation, team building, and career transition.

Below is a list of the types of jobs in sports psychology that someone can obtain following post-secondary education:

Sports Psychologists in Private Practice

  • Mental training consultant or sports psychologist for a professional sport agent
  • Mental training consultant in private practice
  • Mental sports psychologist for an Olympic training center
  • Mental training consultant at a sports academy
  • Psychologist or counselor for a sports medicine clinic or hospital department

Academic Positions

  • Instructor of sports and exercise psychology at a university
  • Sports psychologist for university athletic department
  • Mental training consultant or sports psychologist for a professional sports organization

Athlete Development

  • Academic coach
  • Athlete liaison officer
  • Athletic counselor
  • Athlete career and education advisor
  • Director of athlete lifestyle services
  • Director of player development for a professional sports team or league
  • Life skills educator for a youth sport and development organization
  • Performance lifestyle coordinator for a professional sport league or organization
  • Professional sport welfare officer
  • Player development manager

How To Get Jobs In Sports Psychology

Sports PsychologyThere’s no clear-cut way to any job within the sports industry, but for sports psychology, starting with an undergraduate degree focused in either psychology or sports psychology is a start.

Yet, according to Sports Psychologist, Dr. Dean Richardson, obtaining a broad education base is perhaps more important than specializing in any one field.

He iterated that it’s important to gain some clinical experience and obtain your psychologist license before potentially moving your way toward those jobs in sports.

As a result, one would then have a wider choice for a career, and in turn, be more marketable to a potential employer, league, team, or organization.

Dr. Sean Richardson — Sports Psychologist

Sean Richardson

Dr. Richardson is an expert in the psychology of high performance, whether in business, sport or performing arts. He works one-on-one with clients as a coach and mentor, and in group settings as a trainer, facilitator, and speaker.

In his practice, he combines a background of elite sport with a PhD on overtraining and 10 years of psychological practice across multiple high performance disciplines.

Below, Dr. Richardson offers his insight to those individuals aspiring to obtain jobs in sports psychology. Some of  his clients have included Mercedes Benz, the Canadian National Rowing Team, Racing Victoria, Pacific Sport Canada, and others.

Connect with Dr. Richardson on LinkedIn as well as Twitter. You can find the full interview with CareersinPsychology.com and Dr. Richardson, here.

1. Advice on the education of sports psychology. 

“For someone looking to get into sports psychology you have to really ask yourself, “What do you really want to do?” Most of the programs in North America and Canada focus on human movement or human kinetics. If you take one of these programs and get a PhD, you don’t actually get to be a psychologist. You are an expert in sports psychology but you don’t actually get to do practicums, you don’t do clinical skills, you don’t get to do internships, you don’t get to do the actual stuff that makes you a psychologist. So you really have to make sure that you find the right program if you want to work as an accredited psychologist.

“Classical sports psychology is a mix of mental skills training, imagery, visualization, goal setting, and self talk. I find that in my practice, though I am only teaching the mental skills about 20-30 percent of the time. Most of the time I am just dealing with the human being in front of me; it’s a bit more of a counseling or coaching model. You’re trying to help them deal with things in their life that may be holding them back from achieving higher performance.”

2. On the difficulty of building your own brand or business.

“I think it’s challenging in any area of psychology. As a registered psychologist, you create a lot of security for yourself by getting your license in the job field. That license is sort of a fallback so that you can accept members of the public. If you get like 10 hours per week from walk-in clients at $200 per hour, you will be able to at least pay your bills and then focus additionally on your sports psychology roles.

“In terms of marketing yourself, you have some channels through your different associations. But for me, it was all about professional development and experience. Often times universities don’t tell you how to build your business. They teach you how to work on patients, but they don’t teach you how to market and manage your own practice. Unless you’re going to get a job in a hospital as a clinical psychologist, you’re going to have to be a bit of an entrepreneur. I don’t want to say it’s difficult, you just have to be smart about it. You have to be proactive and find out which avenues will be fruitful.”

3. Perks of being a sports psychologist.

“I have a very diverse career model. It’s not always sitting in an office talking to people. I occasionally get to be a professional keynote speaker, some speaking events can pay up to $10,000 for a few hours of my time. That way I get to really share my experience, I get to do workshops, speaking, work clinically with clients, and more importantly, I get to help people try to be the best at what they do. I like to be able to help people. When someone comes to you and tells you that you have made a difference in their life, that really means a lot. Making a difference and getting to see the results in your clients is probably the best thing about the job.

“The stuff that you learn in sports psychology is amazing. We are able to help people to find that extra edge in their lives, and it is a skill that you just don’t see in other areas of psychology. You can use that skill-set in many different areas if you’re smart and you diversify your career.”

College Programs That Can Help You Land Jobs In Sports Psychology

Sports PsychologyDepending on where a student would like to work within the niche industry of sports psychology, one might need to obtain just an undergraduate degree.

However, Master’s degrees as well as Doctorate programs are also available for those looking to obtain advanced jobs in sports psychology.

When deciding on a school to attend, students may wish to account for opportunities for hands-on experience along with internships that expose students to the working world. Or, students may place much-needed importance on study abroad opportunities.

Below, Sports Networker highlights a few universities that specialize in sports psychology and can help students land jobs in sports psychology.

University Of North Texas  — Center For Sport Psychology & Human Excellence

University of North Texas

At the University of North Texas, there are two options for students interested in obtaining an education toward obtaining jobs in sports psychology. First, students can pursue a Master’s degree in Kinesiology within the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation; this degree emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of sports in general.

Additionally, students can also obtain a Doctorate degree within the Psychology Department’s APA-accredited counseling psychology program. Then, students in the program can specialize in sports. Following graduation from the doctoral program, individuals will then be eligible for licensure as a psychologist and certification as a sports consultant.

Contact: Doctorate Program – Apply hereMaster’s Program – Apply here. | Social Media: Facebook

Texas Christian University — Harris College Of Nursing & Health Sciences

Texas Christian University

The undergraduate major in sports psychology at Texas Christian University allows students to pursue a graduate degree in sports psychology, sports sociology, and exercise psychology as well. In addition, the major prepares students for positions in consulting and academia.

A graduate degree in sports psychology will have an emphasis on the utilization of psychological techniques to increase sports performance as well as the psychological benefits and downfalls of youth sports. Within this area of study, students will be prepared for future careers in doctoral students, coaching, and leadership opportunities.

Contract: Graduate Program – Apply hereUndergraduate Program – Apply here.

John F. Kennedy University

JFK UniversityThe Master of Arts Sport Psychology program at JFK University has earned the distinction of one of the few in the United States that integrates performance enhancement techniques, counseling and sport science.

The coursework provides students with a breadth of knowledge in research, theory, counseling, psychopathology, kinesiology, sport injury and the application of psychology to areas like optimized athletic performance, at-risk youth and group dynamics.

For individuals interested in sport psychology and in working in a clinical setting and/or using clinical psychology skills in working with clients, John F. Kennedy University is pleased to offer an innovative program that enables individuals to work toward earning an MA in Sport Psychology and a PsyD degree concurrently. This program provides a unique opportunity to train to work with both clinical clients and athletes and prepare to apply the skills and knowledge developed from both the fields of sport and clinical psychology.

Contact: Dual Degree (Master’s/Doctorate) – Apply hereMaster’s Program – Apply here.

How To Find Jobs In Sports Psychology

Are you ready to find and land your dream job in sports psychology? Check out the job postings on Work in Sports for a detailed breakdown of jobs based on type and region.

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Did you know that there were so many types of jobs in sports psychology to choose from? Let us know what your dream job in sports would be. Leave a comment for us below or tweet us your thoughts at @sportsnetworker.

Jobs In Sports Psychology References

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11 Responses to Jobs In Sports Psychology: How To Land Your Dream Job In Sports

  1. Dawn Donnelly April 16, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Hi! Very interested in the field of sports psychology. I just received my license in counseling and plan to start a certificate program in applied sports psychology in a couple of months. I guess I’m looking for a little direction in the field and some places I could start to work. I’m in te New York area. It would be great to make some connections in the field as well. Thank u in advance for ur help! Dawn

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    Hi there. I’m not as far along as I’d like to be, but I’m ready to go to graduate school in psychology and I was leaning toward sports psychology. I’m an avid soccer fan- more like soccer fanatic. Ideally, I’d work for, or be associated with, a Barclays Premier League team in England. However, I’m not going to be too idealistic and limit my options for future employment. I like your input about the profession and advice about what and what not to do. You’re clearly financially and occupationally secure; to be honest, that is generally my biggest concern when it comes to working- in ANY profession. Is this anything in particular you would focus on before or during graduate school? I plan on getting advice from the academic counselors where I go to school and trying to decide the best options available, but additional advice from a professional with years of experience in this field would also be greatly appreciated.

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