What’s a Sports Psychologist?
Many athletes and coaches are confused about the role of a sports psychologist in improving athletic performance. The main goal of a sports psychologist is to help athletes and teams perform better or more consistently by learning proven mental training strategies. A Sports Psychologist does now work with problem athletes or athletes who only get stuck in a slump.
Just recently I received a letter from a sports parent who said: “It is one thing to “think” you need to do something or “understand” you need to change. It is an entirely different matter to buy-in to what is necessary to do a program with a sports psychologist and to modify one’s behavior.” This is right on…
We find that athletes avoid what they don’t understand. They think sports psychology is a last resort or for athletes who are “mental.” I prefer to use the tile “mental game coach” because I think athletes can relate to this title better than “sports psychologist.” It’s less threatening and more inline with the athletic terminology. Okay, let’s face it, the term psychology still scares a lot of people.
A sports psychologist can help you improve performance. You improve performance in three ways:
- Learn mental skills for peak performance
- Learn how to get more from your practice time
- Learn how to manage your practice schedule
This is not a comprehensive list of what a sports psychologist can do, but it covers a lot of ground. My role is to help athletes develop mental skills for success in sports only. I teach athletes how to feel more confident, focus better, stay composed under pressure, practice more efficiently, and develop more effective pregame routines. I become an extension of the athlete’s support team.
My approach might be different from a sports psychologist or other mental game coaching professionals. My professional education is based on physical education, sports performance, and sports psychology. My experience also comes from the sports world as a former athlete, coach, and for the last 20 plus years, as a mental game coach to athletes.
Some sports psychologists come from clinical psychology and then decide they want to go into sports psychology. They have a strong background in working with pathology and not necessarily athletes and performance enhancement.
Unlike a psychotherapist or sport psychologist, I do not prescribe medicines, work with abnormal athletes, or label people as mentally ill. I help well-adjusted athletes realize their potential and dreams in sports. And often these same mental game skills I teach athletes, can be applied to life skills for student athletes, junior or youth athletes, and recreational athletes.
Please don’t be averse to working with a sports psychologist or mental game coach. The real value of working with a sports psychologist is helping athletes reach their physical potential and perform as well in competition as they do in practice every day. You can benefit from getting solid advice and mental toughness strategies from someone outside your immediate circle of support. Please contact Peak Performance Sports if you have any questions about sports psychology programs or products we offer that can help you perform with greater consistency.