How to Become a Sports Psychologist in Australia
Sports Psychologists, also known as Performance Psychologists, help athletes deal with the mental and emotional pressures involved with participating in physical competitions. They facilitate the development of mental skills and techniques used to overcome anxiety and reach peak performance levels. A Sports Psychologist can function as a trainer, a consultant or as a therapist. They work with individuals, teams, parents and coaches and may spend time on the road with athletes, visiting teams at their home venue or meeting clients in hotel rooms or various other locations.
Sports Psychologists draw knowledge from a number of different disciplines, such as psychology, kinesiology and physiology to teach athletes how to feel more confident, stay focused and composed under pressure and develop more beneficial pregame routines. They also help clients cope with the negative emotions associated with injury, defeat, lack of performance and career transitions. Sports Psychologists assist with issues both on and off the field, such as eating disorders and bereavement, in order to enable athletes to maintain consistent performance throughout their career. Another common issue that Sports Psychologists may address is conflict resolution on and off the field, among players and also between players and management.
If you want to use your critical thinking and communication skills to help athletes and sports people perform at their peak, then here are some steps you will need to take to become a Sports Psychologist.
Step 1: Undertake an undergraduate course.
Before you can practice Sports Psychology you will need to gain qualification as a registered psychologist. The first step toward this end is to gain your bachelor’s degree or graduate diploma in psychology from an accredited education provider. Combining classroom studies and work experience, this course will supply a foundation in the basic principles of psychology.
Step 2: Complete your honours or 4th year Graduate Diploma in Psychology.
Once you have your 3-year undergraduate degree or diploma you will need to go on to fourth-year studies and complete either honours or your postgraduate diploma which will allow you to gain provisional registration as a psychologist.
Step 3: Internship, Masters or Doctorate qualification.
Now that you have your provisional registration, your next step is to continue your university studies, moving on to gain either your Masters or Doctorate qualification. This will involve a further 2-3 years of study at the end of which you will be eligible for general registration as a practising psychologist. Many education institutes will offer specific courses in sport and exercise psychology though the entry requirements may vary, so it is recommended that you contact universities before applying to ensure you will qualify.
Step 4: Obtain registration and endorsement.
The final step on your journey is to apply for endorsement in the specific area of Sports Psychology. This will involve undertaking supervised training with an endorsed practitioner. This training period will vary based on your qualification; 2 years for an accredited Masters or 1 if you hold a doctorate. Once you have completed this training you will gain endorsement from the Psychology Board of Australia as a registered Sports Psychologist.
What does a Sports Psychologist do?
Sports Psychologists are registered practitioners of psychology who specialise in helping athletes and other professional competitors to overcome mental and emotional issues that might affect their performance. Functioning as psychologists, consultants and trainers, Sports Psychologists employ many different techniques to improve focus, overcome anxiety and cope with defeat. They teach strategies to enhance performance, manage adrenaline and frustration, and also help athletes through rehabilitation after an injury or illness.
Sports Psychologists provide therapy for issues like eating disorders, career transitions and communication between players and managers or coaches. They are experts in understanding how psychological factors, both on and off the field, affect physical performance and use their knowledge of psychology and physiology to address the needs of individuals, teams, coaches and even parents of athletes.
- Helping athletes develop mental coping strategies.
- Identifying and analysing areas of stress and insecurity.
- Assisting with injury rehabilitation.
- Developing improved training and exercise routines.
- Teaching mental and emotional techniques to improve on-field performance.
Skills for Success
A Sports Psychologist needs to be patient and understanding, as they will often be dealing with athletes and sports people at their most vulnerable. They need excellent listening and communication skills as well as the ability to motivate and encourage. Sports Psychologists are dedicated to helping their clients achieve their full potential while balancing the rigours of training with a satisfying personal life. In order to be a successful Sports Psychologist, you will need great analytic and observational skills, the capacity to explain complex issues and extensive knowledge of the interplay between physical and psychological stress.
Due to the nature of team and athlete schedules, Sports Psychologists will often be required to travel to various locations, following their clients to events both at home and abroad. This means that you will need to be flexible about where you practice, be it the locker room, a hotel, on the field or even in a restaurant.
- Patience and understanding.
- Critical thinking.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Dedication to helping others.
- Great motivational skills.
How much do Sports Psychologists make in Australia? In Australia, Sports Psychologists earn an average of $74,865 per year. This varies depending on a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 02/18