Sports Psychologist

Cheyenne Bourgeois

Occupation Description

A Sport Psychologist does two main different things, research and counseling.

- Research in sport psychology involves observing athletes in order for them to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what they can do better to succeed. A sport psychology researcher might also try to find ways for athletes to perform better and with fewer obstacles.

- Counseling in sport psychology involves a number of different things as well. One includes being therapist-like and lending a open ear for an athlete to talk to. Sometimes athletes have a rough day on the field, and need someone to talk to. Another includes helping an athlete get back on the field after a rough injury. After surgery and recovery from the physical problems, a sports psychologist is there to motivate an encourage an athlete. Sports Psychologist do a lot of different things with athlete to get them to perform better as well. Like a strength and conditioning coach would work on an athletes body to get them stronger, a sports psychologist will work on an athletes mind to get them stronger for their next game.


Any psychologist must pass their state medical boards to practice in that state. Many Sports psychologist also get certifications through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Before testing they must complete the following:

  • 400 hours of mentored experience observing athletes on and off the field
  • 100 of the total hours must be spent working with teams
  • 40 hours spent in a mentored clinical setting

Daily Activities: Nature of the Work

Some Daily Activities include...

Cognitive and behavioral skills training: Emotion control, leadership skills, goal setting, self confidence building, and sportsmanship

Counseling and clinical interventions: athletic motivation, weight management, substance abuse, depression, rehabilitation after injury, career transitions or team moves.

Consultation: team building, sports organization consultation, consultation with parents and families involved in youth sports, education of coaches

Education Requirements

In most countries, a two-year master's or four-year doctoral degree is needed to become a sports psychologist. Some colleges offer Sports Psychologist majors, but you can obtain a sports psychology job with just a major in Psychology or Physical Education.

Payday: Annual Income

The median salary for a general psychologist was 90,010 in 2010. Psychologist that are in private practice earned a median salary of $90,220. Many Sports Psychologist work out of private practice, unless they are hired by a professional team, and then of course, their salaries would differ.


- Needs to enjoy athletics/sports (many sports psychologist play sports themselves)

- Being "hands on" with athletes

- Enjoys motivating and encouraging

- Enjoys the brain and mental processes

- Traveling

- Working with a wide variety of cliental

Fun Facts & Job Settings

In the US military, sports psychologist, which they call Performance Enhancement Specialists work with soldiers to help overcome physical adversity

At least 20 NCAA Division I universities have a sport psychologist on staff

Sports Psychologist can be found anywhere from the PGA tour, to the Cleveland Cavaliers, The Cubs, Olympic teams, and high school tennis.