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Sport Psychologist  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotAthletes perform under enormous pressure. They must recover from mistakes quickly and perform well under all conditions. Mental preparation can often make the difference between the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.

Sport psychologists help athletes use psychological principles to improve performance. They also study how participation in sports, exercise and physical activity affects psychological development, health and well-being.

Academic sport psychologists teach and conduct research. They usually teach at colleges and universities and train sport psychology students. They may also help athletes, teams and coaches.

Applied sport psychologists focus on professional practice and actual sport settings. Typically, they assist athletes with performance enhancement issues. They provide workshops for coaches and administrators or function as consultants to teams.

dotSome sport psychologists have their own clinics and see athletes as well as other patients. Or they may be employed by professional sports teams or teach in universities.

Because of the limited number of full-time positions, many work part time and keep evening or weekend hours to accommodate patients.

At a Glance

Use psychology to improve an athlete's performance

  • The United States has two national certification programs
  • Some sport psychologists have their own clinics and see athletes as well as other patients
  • Get a degree in sport science, psychology or counseling