Sport Psychology is one of the fastest growing sub-fields of Psychology, but what is Sport Psychology?
By now, everyone has heard of Sport Psychology, maybe seen one on a team’s sideline or read an article about sports psych. With many people utilizing the services of a Sport Psychology consultant, for a wide array of needs the field is on the rise. Sport Psychology is essentially the application of the field of psychology to sports, fitness, competitive athletics, and more. Generally examining how psychological factors influence physical performance, results, and behavior, and how physical factors can impact psychology.
The field relies on a wide array of disciplines, including exercise physiology, bio-mechanics, physiology, kinesiology, psychology, and more. Understanding how the mind influences the performance of an athlete can be crucial to results. Working to maximize one’s abilities and improve performance and outcomes through enhancing psychological factors is essential.
Who can use the services of a Sport Psychology Consultant?
While many envision a Sport Psychology Consultant (SPC) working with an Olympian or Major League pitcher, this represents a very small percentage of the field. SPCs are now very common in college and even high school athletics. The topics that are covered will vary based on the specific needs of that client. They will work with coaches and cover many of the mental aspects of the game both on and off of the field.
While it is true that most professional teams and many elite individual athletes use the services of a SPC, their services extend much further. People who are looking to get in shape, lose weight, or just improve abilities are using SPCs. Working with trainers or coaches is often done to help create a plan to improve people’s physical and mental health. Usually, the Sport Psychology Consultant will act in a similar fashion to assistant coach, just focusing on the mental aspects of training, competition, and results.
What do Sport Psychology Consultants do?
Many Sport Psychology Consultants help athletes with goal-setting, imagery, positive self-talk, and performance anxiety. In team settings, a SPC will often work on team building, communication, relationships, and trust. In high level athletes stress management and the demands that can come with being at that level are often discussed.
The jobs and role of the Sport Psychology Consultant will vary greatly with each individual client. The needs of a high level Olympic level snow-boarder are far different from that of a person who is over weight and trying to get off the couch. However, both could benefit from doing goal-setting. Their respective goals will be different, both could really improve from their present standing.
As a Sport Psychology Consultant it is paramount to create new plans for each individual. Catering to the specific person or team will allow the SPC to understand all the influences that may be leading to the results. All people and teams are unique, and should be treated in such a manner. However, using similar activities is not bad, because the execution of those approaches will be beneficial to each individual or team.
Sport Psychology Consultants can be brought in for short term and temporary consultation, like issues in communication between teammates. Or be a long term and be a permanent member of the coaching team. The role will take on the shape of the team needs.