Athletes must be in peak mental and physical condition to perform at their best. Sports psychologists help make this happen. This guide explains what they do, how you can become a sports psychologist, and the different sports psychology degrees available.
Degrees in Sports Psychology
While many requirements vary by state, all clinical sports psychologists must have a doctorate. Other jobs available to sports psychologists include coaching, working as a sports agent, or team administration.
You don't have to specialize early in your sports psychology education. Some schools offer a sports psychology bachelor's degree or minor, but most sports psychology master's programs accept students with any applicable major, such as general psychology.
Bachelor's Degrees in Sports Psychology
Sports psychology coursework includes psychology research methods, psychological testing and assessment, the psychology of personality, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, cognition, and psychological treatments and interventions.
Schools not offering sports psychology majors may still offer courses in sports psychology or other applicable courses, such as the psychology of teams or organizational psychology. Many schools offer hybrid or online psychology or sports psychology degrees and on-campus programs.
Master's Degree in Sports Psychology
At the master's level of your sports psychology education, you can focus more narrowly on sports psychology and advanced topics in general psychology, such as psychology practice, counseling, advanced assessment and diagnosis, behavioral psychology, the physiology of sports performance, and neuroscience.
Learners complete fieldwork under the guidance of a licensed sports psychologist. Some schools offer hybrid or online sports psychology master's programs and can help you find a local clinical placement.
Most sports psychology master's programs require at least a 3.0 GPA for admittance. Some require GRE test scores or may waive this requirement if your undergraduate GPA is above a certain level.
Doctorates in Sports Psychology
To become a licensed sports psychologist, most states require a doctorate that includes a one-year internship and at least two years of supervised practice. To pursue a career in sports psychology education, you should earn a Ph.D., which emphasizes research. A Psy.D. focuses on clinical practice. Either sports psychology doctorate qualifies graduates for state licensing.
In addition to coursework in advanced research, applied neuroscience, the psychology of sports performance, counseling, and sports psychology assessment tools, you will conduct original research to write and defend your doctoral thesis. You can choose from online sports psychology programs or hybrid and in-person courses.
Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sports Psychology
Where do sports psychologists work?
Sports psychologists can work in private practice, for professional or school sports teams, Olympics teams, for physical therapy providers that contract with sports teams, or serve individual athletes.
Do I have to have a license to be a sports psychologist?
To be a clinical sports psychologist, you need a license. However, you can use a sports psychology education as an athletic coach, sports teacher, or personal coach.
Is sports psychology a good career?
Whether any career is good for you depends on your goals. If you want to work with athletes and apply psychology to help them improve their performance, being a sports psychologist can be very rewarding.
What Does a Sports Psychologist Do?
As a sports psychologist, you can use your sports psychology education to:
- Observe athlete behavior, individually, as part of a team, or both
- Assess individual athletes' psychological status and how it affects their performance
- Advise athletes on psychological techniques that help them manage stress and performance anxiety
- Apply psychology to improve team communication and functions
- Advise coaches on psychological aspects of athlete and team performance
- Advise athletes on psychological health and well-being
- Help athletes deal psychologically with injuries, including serious injuries that limit or end their careers
- Help professional athletes transition to life after they retire from active sports
What Else Can I Do With a Sports Psychology Degree?
While most sports psychology degrees prepare students for careers as sports psychologists, you have other options. For example, a sports psychology education is valuable for:
- Sports agents
- Team administrators
- Consultants or full-time staff for athletic gear designers
- Commentators for sports broadcasters, publications, or other media
- Sports writers or ghostwriters for athlete autobiographies
If you earn a sports psychology bachelor's degree, depending on your courses and the master's program requirements, you can use your sports psychology education to earn a master's degree in related fields, such as physical therapy, physical education, or sports administration.