Sports psychology courses: studying a winning discipline

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Sports are a central part of our culture. Many of us play sports, even more of us watch them, but only a handful of us understand sports psychology.

Sports psychology draws from biometrics, kinesiology, and of course psychology. It seeks to understand the nature of competitive games. It examines how athletes and teams think, react and work together. In addition, it looks at how psychological factors influence a player’s performance. Finally, sports psychologists also study how taking part in sports and exercise impact a person’s mental and physical health throughout life.

Sports psychologists work with professional and amateur teams and athletes. First of all, this means examining team dynamics and helping players to work better together. Furthermore, they help individual players overcome mental and emotional difficulties. Finally, sports psychologists work alongside coaches and trainers, rehabilitation doctors and nutritionists to help teams perform at their best.

However, sports psychology also has applications beyond the playing field. Competition and conflict are common in many workplaces. As a result, sports psychologists also work in the corporate world to help work colleagues to form more effective work teams.

Why study sports psychology?

Organisations and businesses increasingly use psychological principles to improve their practices, and the sports industry is no different. Professional sports psychologists roles include:

  • Working alongside coaches to improve team performance
  • In private practice aiding amateur and professional athletes
  • Sports rehabilitation clinics
  • Business consultants and team building leaders

What does it involve?

Most professional sports psychologists have are first and foremost, psychologists. Therefore, to work as a professional in this field you will first need to qualify as a psychologist.Sports psychology is generally taken as a postgraduate degree.

While most sports psychologists are qualified mental health professionals, you don’t necessarily have to be a psychologist to take a course in this discipline.

Anyone involved in sports can benefit from some insight and knowledge into the psychology of sports and teams. This makes it especially relevant to coaches, trainers and players. Shorter courses are aimed at people who work in and around sports. Topics covered include:

  • Counselling athletes
  • Psychology and sport injury and rehabilitation
  • Self-perceptions related to achieving
  • Performance enhancement

At a glance

Sports psychology is a fascinating field that draws from various other disciplines. Sports psychology is almost always taken as a postgraduate degree. Shorter sports psychology courses are also available. These are ideal for amateurs, coaches and players.


Anne Sexton

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