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Career profile: Sport psychologist

Career profile: Sport psychologistCan you imagine what it feels like to compete in an Olympic event, knowing that millions of people are watching you? Sport psychologists help athletes to deal with the mental pressures so they can perform at their best.

A what?

Sport psychologists work with athletes to help them deal with the psychological demands of competition and training. Examples of the work they carry out include counselling referees to handle the stressful and demanding aspects of their role, advising coaches on how to build team spirit within their squad and helping athletes to cope with the psychological and emotional consequences of getting injured.

On the job

Sport psychologists work in different settings and with a diverse range of clients. Most sport psychologists combine consultancy work with teaching and research. Some hold full-time positions with professional sports teams or national governing bodies and opportunities to work as a full-time sport psychologist are constantly increasing in number.
The work of a sport psychologist is centred on people and can be extremely varied. Although consultancy work may be office-based it is equally likely that consultants will work in field settings such as team premises, competition venues, clinical rehabilitation and recreational exercise settings.

Course entry requirements

You need to do a first degree, preferably in psychology, before doing further training to become a sport psychologist. Universities and colleges tend to be flexible about which A levels, A/S, GNVQ or Scottish Higher subjects are necessary for entry onto psychology degrees, but undergraduates need to be able to handle scientific subjects, to be numerate and to have developed writing skills.

Biology, mathematics, English, history, economics or similar arts or social science subjects are all useful preparation for a degree course. Maths at the Scottish Standard Grade or at GCSE level, at grades A, B or C is usually required.

What does the training involve?

You must first achieve an accredited honours degree in psychology (you can convert from one which is not accredited or not psychology) to obtain Graduation Basis for Registration (3-4 years full time).

After your first degree, you will then need to complete a Society accredited masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology; plus two years practical experience under the supervision of a Chartered Psychologist.

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