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5 Characteristics of a Sports Psychologist

A Successful Sports Psychologist Has These 5 Personality Traits

  • Strong Interpersonal Skills
  • Ability to Observe Others
  • Analytical Skills
  • Excellence in Communication
  • Patience and Integrity

A person who enjoys working with others and is passionate about sports should know about these top five characteristics of a sports psychologist. Anyone thinking of earning an undergraduate or graduate degree in psychology might consider a focus on sports psychology if they want to work with athletes, teams or coaches. Awareness of these five characteristics of a sports psychologist could help a person decide if their skills are right for this occupation.

1. Strong Interpersonal Skills

A great sports psychologist should establish a rapport with their clients. While they need to maintain professional boundaries, they should also work well with different types of people. The clients should feel like they can trust the psychologist. This makes it easier for the client to speak freely or act naturally when in the presence of the psychologist. Sports psychologists should be able to relate to a wide range of people in many situations.

2. Ability to Observe Others

Sports psychologists spend a lot of time watching and listening to others. These observations may take up 50 percent or more of the psychologist’s working hours. The psychologist might record people and spend hours reviewing a short period over and over again. For example, they might record a team training session and review the interactions, facial expressions and words used. Their observations should be quantifiable and objective. Sports psychologists should understand the meanings of facial expressions, body positioning, gestures and interactions between two or more people.

3. Analytical Skills

After observing an athlete, coach or team, a sports psychologist should be able to analyze what they saw. This should take place using objective measures or tools. The sports psychologist should be able to draw logical conclusions from the analyses of their observations. They should be familiar with research studies and established data when they make recommendations to an individual or a team for working through a problem.

4. Excellence in Communication

Sports psychologists should be excellent at communicating with others. They may work with athletes from a variety of backgrounds. The psychologist should be able to explain things in a way that anyone can understand. They should also be good listeners. By listening to a problem, a psychologist can provide better care to their clients. Sports psychologists should also excel at communicating with people of different ages and feel comfortable with listening to tough or sensitive issues.

5. Patience and Integrity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists should also have patience. Providing counseling, therapy or guidance to an individual athlete, coach or sports team is not a once-and-done endeavor. It takes time to make a difference in the effectiveness and outcome in the psychology of sports. In a similar vein, a sports psychologist should work with integrity, keeping individual or team conflicts, personal information and sensitive problems in confidence according to the law and professional ethics.

Sports psychology can be a lucrative career, but the number of job openings is small compared to the number of people who want to do this type of work. A person who has all five of these characteristics of a sports psychologist has a good chance of being an ideal fit for a job with a college, amateur or professional team or at a gym, health center or similar organization. Knowing about these five characteristics of a sports psychologist also facilitates the selection of a career path within psychology.

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