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What Is Sports Psychology?
Athletes have incredible physical talents. Think of Michael Jordan in his basketball heyday or present day Tiger Woods. How do athletes such as these reach such phenomenal levels? It takes more than just physical ability. Professional athletes, Olympic athletes and even college and high school athletes who are highly competitive turn to sports psychologists to up their games.
A sport psychologist gives an athlete the mental skills and exercises that lead to an outstanding performance. What coaches give athletes physically, sports psychologists give athletes mentally. In fact, Tiger Woods has famously discussed using visualization exercises to help with his golf game. In doing so, he visualizes the outcome of his 18-hole game to train his mind to play in such a manner. Many other athletes use these visualization techniques as well. A sports psychologist can help athletes with these techniques.
Sport psychology is a field where students study regular normal and abnormal psychology. They then delve into the physiological and motor aspects of sports behavior. Students receive a breadth of training in these areas: psychology, individual and group skills, normal and abnormal behavior, sports sciences, diversity and professional identity. When students graduate, they should be certified to consult athletes within all aspects of the athlete's professional life.
A sports psychologist helps athletes alleviate stress and pressure, boost confidence and provide mind skills and techniques to help performance and help them work seamlessly with their teammates. Many athletes go to sports psychologists when they feel they are not performing well due to mental blockages, stress or some type of fear. Sports psychologists provide them with the tools to conquer these pressures and improve their game. Coaches also use sports psychologists to help them with pressure and improve their mental skills for competition.
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List of Sport Psychology Colleges
Here is a list of colleges which offer a sports psychology degree:
- Adler School of Professional Psychology has a Master's in Counseling with a Specialization in Sport and Health Psychology. The program focuses on a dual sports-health approach. Students learn about goal setting and self-monitoring in regard to improving consistency of practice and losing weight, for example. The program also focuses on addressing the community as a whole i.e. athletes, coaches, family members, etc. Students can take exams to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Illinois and to gain admittance into the Association for Applied Sports Psychology (AASP). Graduates enter professions such as health promotion counselors, sports psychologists and sports performance enhancement interventionalists.
- Argosy University has a Master's program in Sport-Exercise Psychology. Once students graduate, they are able to apply to be certified sports psychology consultants in the AASP. The program focuses on normal and abnormal psych and understanding sports behavior. It is tailored to students who seek employment in the fields of private practice, athletic departments, coaching, exercise and health and/or pursuit of a doctorate degree. Students can also do a dual degree in Mental Health Counseling, which allows them to be a LPC in Arizona and other states. Graduates take jobs as a sports psychology consultant, coach, researcher and health advisor.
- Miami University has a Master's program in Sport Studies. The program focuses on many factors such as development, physiological, historical and socio-cultural perspectives. Graduates complete internships in coaching or other positions related to sports psychology. Many of the graduates of this program have continued onto professional collegiate coaching. A few have continued onto professional coaching. Graduates have been accepted into prestigious doctoral sports behavior programs as well.
- University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) has a Master's program in Sport and Performance Psychology. Students focus on helping the sports perfomance and general psychological well-being of athletes, coaches, etc. The program focuses on assessment of the athlete and evaluation to aid personal growth. Courses include Psychology of Excellence and Movement Principles for Performance. Student do a practicum and have highly experienced professors at their disposal.
- University of North Carolina - Greensboro has both Master and Doctoral programs in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Courses can be taken on campus or online. The programs have three objectives: to understand and help athletes and others improve sports performance through mental skills; determine how sports participation can facilitate well-being and psychological development; and provide the highest quality of sports psychology education. Students study in the Applied Neuromechanics Research Laboratory to research all aspects of sports psychology.
Now that you've found colleges that offer sport psychology, make sure to research thoroughly and apply to the school that is right for you.
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