Find Your Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

5 Careers in Sports Psychology

5 Sports Psychology Jobs Scoring Huge Rewards

  • Applied Sports Psychologist
  • Clinical Sports Psychologist
  • Team Dynamics Counselor
  • Academic Sports Psychologist
  • Cognitive Performance Coach

Careers in sports psychology help people surmount mental and emotional obstacles to their best athletic performance. Common hurdles addressed are fear of failure, distractibility, anger management, and low self-esteem. For players who’ve recovered from injuries, sports psychologists pump their confidence for rejoining practices and competitions.

In the military sector, sports psychologists prepare enlisted personnel for the stress of training and field operations. Here are five rewarding jobs that build a mental edge toward optimal physical fitness.

1. Applied Sports Psychologist

An applied sports psychologist shows players how to compete more effectively by elevating their perspectives. Star athletes are known to possess certain cognitive abilities.  An applied sports psychologist assesses a player’s level of development in each cognitive skill; plans methods to target weak areas, such as techniques in visualization, concentration, and relaxation; and monitors each player’s progress.

Among careers in sports psychology, this profession is notable for being flexible regarding avenues of practice. Some clinicians work as consultants, traveling with professional athletes and teams. Other therapists train clients in their private offices or at sports clinics. Another option is responding to coach invitations to visit their particular city and teach players onsite.

2. Clinical Sports Psychologist

A clinical sports psychologist imparts healthy coping strategies to calm tension. Clinical sports psychologists use various therapies to break emotional barriers to competing well. One new treatment is “cognitive restructuring.” With this technique, the therapist helps an athlete identify their stress trigger, understand why it arises, and consider it manageable. Then, the client and therapist explore productive ways to respond. Science Daily describes a study in which cognitive restructuring helped women hockey players transcend the pressures of league games.

Clinical sports psychologists work at private clinics, hospital departments, counseling centers, and sports medicine clinics. Or, they may travel with athletes. For the best results with clients, they may involve parents or coaches in treatment plans, building strong support systems for players.

3. Team Dynamics Counselor

Team dynamics counselor is one of the most exhilarating careers in sports psychology, aimed at building “team cohesion.” This term refers to unified players, supporting each other wholeheartedly in reaching group goals. Toward this end, the counselor works with athletes in five key areas: promoting mutual respect, motivation, communication, task focus, team culture, and leadership. When players invest themselves in these incentives, their commitment fuels the power to succeed.

4. Academic Sports Psychologist

Colleges hire sports psychologists to help athletes manage pressures such as demands on personal lives and friendship challenges. Furthermore, players may grapple with grief, depression, trauma, anxiety, and transitioning from high school to college. Such challenges can lead to addictions and harmful habits, such as overeating, anorexia, bulimia, alcoholism, and drug abuse. In US academic settings, sports psychologists enjoy substantial incomes. According to the American Psychological Association, annual salaries range between $60,000 and $80,000. Furthermore, in large cities, earnings can reach $100,000 a year.

5. Cognitive Performance Coach

A cognitive performance coach ensures that military members are mentally ready for the rigors of service. During training, using simulation technology, the coach duplicates combat situations, toughening troops against trauma. Memory drills enhance recall and problem-solving. Visualization exercises build mental stamina. Additionally, the coach is a compassionate listener, giving emotional support to military personnel and their families.

Sports psychologists impart mental conditioning to excel in sports and physical fitness. Enthusiastic teachers, they instill powerful intellectual skills, such as centering, visualization, positive self-talk, cognitive restructuring, and mindfulness.

Related Resources: