A sports psychologist applies psychological principles to help athletes reach their peak performance levels. They analyse the physical and mental behaviour of players and address any concerns in a safe, confidential environment.
Work may be done on an individual, one-to-one basis or with a whole team. The psychologist should maintain records and escalate any concerns if necessary. It is their job to aid the welfare of athletes and facilitate extraordinary learning opportunities.
Methods include visualisation, self-talk, goal setting, anger-management, relaxation, keywords, body language adjustments and attribution training. These help athletes maintain confidence, deal with emotions and keep their focus, especially if they are struggling with injury or suffering from the psychological effect of poor performances.
DID YOU KNOW?
Many psychological techniques are informed by the latest science. The key to accessing a player’s elite performance lies in the pre-frontal lobe of the brain. This area is responsible for decision-making, awareness and anticipation. Stress and criticism affects this area of the brain negatively.
Applicants must hold both an undergraduate and masters level degree in Psychology. In addition to this, they should be BPS chartered and HCPC registered. Qualifications in counselling are also desirable.
Candidates should be able to point to a variety of elite-level case studies where they’ve helped improve athletic performance. They should have practical experience of applying psychological principles within an elite sporting environment and be used to performing on their own initiative in pressurised situations.