How can Sports Psychology help athletes?
Recently, I had a conversation with a parent of a high school athlete. This parent was sharing the ins and outs of her daughter’s high school basketball team. She asked me my thoughts on why a high school athlete would need or want to seek the help of a sport psychologist. This is a valid question because most parents and athletes assume a psychologist is utilized only when mental problems arise.
The short answer to her question is a quotation from the USA team website:
Substitute “Olympic” with high school, college, professional, or competitive. Train your mind like you train your body and the results will speak for themselves. A high school basketball player can be taught the simple skills of visualization and mindfulness (awareness) as a means of training their mind and body to improve free throw skills. With a simple, daily mental routine, he or she creates a lifelong skill of training the mind to align with the body to create an optimal performance. This routine becomes an important part of an athlete’s mental tool box.
Exceptional mental skills are necessary for exceptional athletic performance. A sport psychologist can help you build a mental tool box to practice and use in all sports.
If you are interested in pursuing your interest in sport psychology than there are several options. First, be aware that in order to call yourself a psychologist of any type you must have a PhD in psychology and be licensed in the state where you practice. Second, you can pursue doctorate work in sport psychology and you should obtain the book, Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology, to help in your search for information. For example, schools like Boston University or the University of Utah offer graduate degrees in the field. Some schools offer online programs, such as National University and Argosy University. You should determine if you want a Master’s degree in the field or a doctoral degree. There are differences in what services you can offer athletes depending on your degree. The website hosted by Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) also lists tips for pursuing your interests in the field.