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Performance psychology has gained more and more visibility lately, becoming a study branch in itself, and aiming to help people on their road to success. But what is performance psychology? What will you do if you become a performance psychologist? What is the process you have to go through in order to become one? Finally, what are some of the places where you can study performance psychology? These are only a few of the questions we are going to be answering today. So if you are simply interested in performance psychology, or you want to become a performance psychologist yourself, read on.
What Is Performance Psychology?
Performance psychology focuses on the study of what it is that motivates and enables athletes, performers, sports players, and so on, to achieve their goals and become successful. This field of study focuses strictly on the human factor in the equation. Which is why it is rightfully named performance psychology. People tend to associate it with professional sports. However, the truth is that you can apply it to any kind of performance, be it athletic, artistic, or business-related. You can use performance psychology when talking about any kind of human endeavor that requires motivation, goal achievement, and success.
What Will You Do as a Performance Psychologist in Sports?
Let’s imagine a football game where a player has to take a penalty. The entire fate of the game depends on this shot. The crowd is cheering and his coach and team are watching his every move. He prepares to shoot, takes a deep breath, and scores. But how was he able to keep it together with all that pressure surrounding his shot? More often than not, the answer to this question might be a performance psychologist.
So if you were to pursue a career in performance psychology, you would be responsible for helping performers deal with the nerves and anxiety before and during their performance. In a way, you are the performer’s coach. But not his physical one, but his equally important mental one. The truth is you cannot achieve success if you only focus on the physical side of sports. You can be as physically prepared as possible. But if you don’t properly train your mind for the game, nervousness will take over and prohibit you from achieving your goals.
As a performance psychologist, you will have to instill a positive mindset in the mind of the athlete that you are helping. This positive mindset is the key to him or her achieving success and developing skills under any kind of pressure or circumstance. But how can you do this? You will have to have an extensive knowledge of human psychology. You will be drawing precisely on this in order to help an athlete develop the mental skills he or she needs. You will take a look at a lot of factors, from personality, to attitude, motivation, visualization, leadership, concentration, and many others. After researching those, your job is to identify the tools the athlete needs to obtain performance.
When you are a performance psychologist, you don’t only work with individual athletes, but with teams as well. Maybe they require your help to become a team, since they are new at it. Or maybe they are trying to cope with something that is affecting the team spirit. This is where you, as a performance psychologist, intervene.
What Do You Need to Do to Become a Performance Psychologist?
Unfortunately, a passion for sport does not count as a skill in this field. In order to work in performance psychology, you first of all have to have a master’s degree in counseling, clinical, or sport psychology. Then, you will either have to get a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree from an accredited school. While you are getting your Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree, you also have to complete one year of internship in the field of performance psychology. But before choosing an area that you want to specialize in, you will have to go through a lot of training. This may involve clinical psychology, counseling, cognitive-behavioral psychology, community psychology, and so on. Sometimes, additional classes such as kinesiology, sports medicine, or business and marketing may be required.
There are three areas in which you can specialize: applied sport psychology, clinical sport psychology, and academic sport psychology. In the applied sport psychology field, you will work towards making an athlete perform at his or her best. In the clinical sport psychology field, you will work with athletes that have mental health issues and need assistance in overcoming them. Finally, if you choose the academic sport psychology fields, you will be teaching and conduction research on topics related to performance psychology.
Where Can You Study Performance Psychology?
There are a lot of universities and centers that offer performance psychology programs. It doesn’t matter if you want to pursue a master’s degree, or a Ph.D. We wanted to help you out and suggest some of them.
Master of Arts in Performance Psychology from the Center for Performance Psychology
The Center for Performance Psychology is offering a really extensive performance psychology program. At the end of it, you will receive a Master of Arts in Performance Psychology. The program focuses both on theory and research, and on applied techniques. These may range from sports psychology, to combat psychology, and exercise psychology. If you want to learn more about the program, make sure and check their website.
Doctor of Psychology, Sport and Performance Psychology Specialization from the University of the Rockies
For the people looking for a Ph.D. in the field of performance psychology, this specialization from the University of Rockies might be worth pursuing. However, we must note that this degree does not mean you will be a licensed doctor of psychology once you are done with it.
Master of Arts degree in Sport and Performance Psychology from University of Denver
If you are looking to help people by influencing the way they perform under pressure and in difficult times of their life, the University of Denver has another Master of Arts degree that specializes in Sport and Performance Psychology. For more information and a detailed description of the program, we advise you to access their website.
Summing It All Up
Considering a career in performance psychology is a great way to help people. It can also provide you with a successful career. Since more and more athletes and sports players feel the need to get help from a performance psychologist, this field will become increasingly popular in the future. So if the information we have provided you with has convinced you that a career in performance psychology is the best option for you, we suggest you to think about applying to a master’s degree as soon as possible.
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