What roles do exercise and sport psychologists perform?
Exercise and sport psychologists typically perform three primary roles: 1) teaching, 2) research, and 3) practice. Career opportunities in exercise and sport psychology may emphasize various aspects or combinations of these roles. Careful selection of a career track will guide you in determining the type of graduate training needed to qualify for career opportunities available in the field of exercise and sport psychology, hereafter referred to as sport psychology.
What sort of education do I need to become involved in sport psychology?
Sport psychology has traditionally been an interdisciplinary field and, therefore, academic training can come from departments of psychology, counseling, or physical education. Many departments of physical education have changed their emphases and now call themselves Exercise and Sport Sciences, Kinesiology, Movement Sciences, Human Performance, or some similar variation (hereafter referred to as sport sciences). The career track that you select will determine the type of academic preparation needed, and will ultimately influence the career opportunities for which you optimally qualify.
Whatever degree you choose to obtain (masters or doctorate), and whether the degree comes from a department of psychology or the sport sciences, you should take supplemental course work from the allied discipline not represented by your home department. For instance, both the U. S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology Registry and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) "Certification Criteria" recommend that psychology majors take sport psychology classes and supplemental course work in sport sciences (e.g., biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor development/learning/ control, and sport sociology). Likewise, sport science graduate students specializing in sport psychology should take undergraduate and graduate courses in departments of psychology or counseling psychology (e.g., abnormal psychology, principles of counseling, psychopathology, personality, and social psychology). Further information about the specific coursework requirements for becoming an AASP certified consultant is available from AASP.
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