Skills and Qualifications Required
The key skills required to succeed in sports psychology include:
- knowledge and active interest in sports and exercises
- ability to work in a team, strike rapport with people, and motivate them
- ability to solve complex problems
- ability to practice what one preach, that is demonstrate optimism, mental focus, goal-setting and concentration
Many colleges offer sports psychology programs at various levels, although degree level courses are rare.
Entry into the profession is usually through internships, with direct training and experience in the field providing growth opportunities. Most regular positions for working with athletes require a master's degree in counseling or physical therapy, and positions involving research and high-level counseling require a Ph. D. in clinical, counseling, or sports psychology.
Most states require sports psychologists to pass a state licensing exam before starting practice as a sports psychologist. The eligibility to sit for the licensing exam is either a master’s degree or a Ph.D., depending on the state.
Besides a certification in sports psychology, a background of involvement in sports and secondary qualification in motivation management helps when seeking a career breakthrough.
Organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) offer accreditation for sports psychologists. Although not essential, accreditation provides many benefits such as designation as a certified consultant, and possibility of listing in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology Registry, which makes it possible to work with Olympic athletes and national teams.