An NFL Sports Psychologist is a mental health professional who works directly with athletes who are currently signed to a team in the National Football League and who possess a sports psychology degree. These professionals will work with clients in specific regions who have are at-risk of substance abuse or who are looking for counseling so that they can determine how mental health factors can affect their physical performance and athleticism.
Both the league and privately owned NFL teams hire sports psychologists to work with players in the league or on the roster. These mental health professionals have years and years of training and have earned their doctorate degree. While it is a long journey to study for a doctorate and achieve the experience needed to be recruited by the NFL, many with a passion for sports long to do what they love in the industry that they love. Here’s how you can become a sports psychologist for the NFL:
Completing Undergraduate Education
Perhaps the biggest requirement to become a sports psychologist at any level is completing training. In order to work as a psychologist, having a Ph.D. is a must. Anyone who already possesses their Bachelor’s degree in a field related to psychology will have a one-up on those who haven’t yet started studying.
Once a student has graduated with acceptable grades from an undergraduate program, they can then begin to choose which graduate school they’ll be accepted into. It’s advisable for students to find undergraduate programs that are recognized and accredited by the American Psychological Association. This ensures that all of the credits earned as an undergraduate student will be accepted and there won’t be a need to complete coursework twice due to a lack of accreditation.
Completing a Doctoral Training Program
There are many universities that have specialized programs in psychology and more specifically sports psychology. Finding accredited programs through the APA will make it easiest to narrow down the options. Once a student has chosen a school, they will need to arrange to take the GRE exam and requesting letters of references. Once an applicant is accepted into a program, they can expect to spend 4 to 7 years completing the coursework, internship, and supervised residency.
How to Land a Job With the National Football League
All professions are about marketing yourself and networking. Anyone who wants to work in the big leagues must first master their craft, hone their talents, and get the exposure that they need to show peers they would be a valuable asset. Since athletes in the NFL earn huge sums of money and teams rake in millions of dollars every month on athletes who are performing, the league is only going to be looking for the best of the best.
Gaining clinical experience prior to applying for a team or the organization is a must. Choosing disciplines on performance and other issues that plague athletes would be ideal. It’s also important for psychologists in the field to join related associations, speak at industry events, write in published journals, and network with peers who currently work for the league to get their name out there.
Just like any job in the sports platform, competing for a sports psychologist role will be challenging. Start on education first by choosing the best path to complete a sport psychology degree program and then find a way to build your business model and brand yourself as an expert NFL sports psychologist.