My misgivings about executive coaching are not a clarion call for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, in particular, does not—and never will—suit everybody. Nor is it up to corporate leaders to ensure that all employees deal with their personal demons. My goal, as someone with a doctorate in psychology who also serves as an executive coach, is to heighten awareness of the difference between a “problem executive” who can be trained to function effectively and an “executive with a problem” who can best be helped by psychotherapy.
All of the above may really appeal to you, but then the question comes up about how do you become a sports psychologist? It all begins with an undergraduate degree. This degree is typically in Psychology. However, there are an increasing number of colleges that offer an undergraduate Sports Psychology major--check out the Association for Applied Sports Psychology site page for information. This major combines courses in Psychology with those in Physical Education/Kinesiology. Finally, if you want to become a sports psychologist it is possible to start with a degree in Physical Education/Kinesiology.
Practice in the field of applied sport and exercise psychology usually involves a combination of individual and group consulting or counseling depending on the style of the professional conducting the intervention and the needs of the client. Although there are many specific concepts within applied sport and exercise psychology (e.g., goal setting, concentration, motivation, relaxation, imagery), the general goal is to teach mental skills necessary to perform consistently in training and competition, increase adherence to exercise programs, and to help individuals realize their potential.
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In 2003, the American Psychological Association (APA) officially recognized sports psychology as a specialized area, or proficiency, in psychology, with the goal of providing uniformity to the development and practice of sports psychology. Several key elements were identified, including the specific knowledge needed in order to be considered specialized in sports psychology; the groups of people that would benefit from this specialty; and the problems or issues addressed through its practice.
The challenges can come from a few different aspects. There is the level of difficulty that clients have in overcoming obstacles that they may be facing. Then there are outside dynamics that can make a difference, such as pressure that athletes may feel from their family, relationships, coaches, or even the media. One of the biggest challenges is when an athlete may lack some of the motivation necessary to bring change or develop a necessary skill—perhaps it was their coach’s or family’s idea that they see a sports psychologist and they are still uncertain about whether or not they want to put in the time to address the mental side of their game. Sports psychology is not a magic formula for success. It is an approach to performance enhancement that requires motivation and participation by the athletes themselves. So when that cooperation and motivation are lacking, it is perhaps the biggest challenge.
Applied sport psychology is the study and application of psychological principles of human performance in helping athletes consistently perform in the upper range of their capabilities and more thoroughly enjoy the sport performance process. Applied sport psychologists are uniquely trained and specialized to engage in a broad range of activities including the identification, development and execution of the mental and emotional knowledge, skills and abilities required for excellence in athletic domains; the understanding, diagnosing and preventing of the psychological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and psychophysiological inhibitors of consistent, excellent performance; and the improvement of athletic contexts to facilitate more efficient development, consistent execution and positive experiences in athletes.
Due to the increase in certified coaches, the improved ROI that results from pairing coaching with leadership training, and the normalization of coaching rates due to a supply and demand shift in the market, coaching will become more commonly used in employee and leadership development at all levels. Coaching will no longer be viewed as something that is only available at the executive level. - Amy Douglas, Spark Coaching, LLC
Depending on practical application of skills and various licensing organizations, sports psychology may be considered a specialty under either applied or clinical psychology. Applied sports psychologists typically advise teams, coaches, trainers and managers in methods of stress-management, relaxation and visualization designed to optimize performance in the game. Clinical application of these skills tends to involve counseling athletes in personal crisis; addressing performance issues, anxiety or mental or physical injury rehabilitation; and more.
Becoming a sports psychologist could be an exciting career choice for many psychology students, especially those who have a strong interest in sports and physical activity. The American Psychological Association describes sports psychology as a "hot career," suggesting that those working in university athletic departments earn around $60,000 to $80,000 per year. If you are interested in this career, learn more about the educational requirements, job duties, salaries and other considerations in this profile of careers in sports psychology.
Sometimes I think of a story for a teaching example later, and I’m unable to contact the client for permission. In these situations, I change identifying details. This can be tricky, because simply omitting the name, time, and place of the event you’re describing is not enough to ensure that someone who knows the client well would not recognize the story. Certain details, like a unique physical trait combined with a sport or interest could be enough to identify the client. Therefore, I change those types of details as well.