Careers in Sport Psychology

How do You Make A Career in Mental Training?

Sports Psychology Coach

We are contacted every day by interested students about careers in sports psychology.

What are the careers for students interested in the field of sport psychology? How do you make a career in mental training for athletes?

These are just a few of the questions we receive from students.

As a student, you have several options for careers in this field. You can become a full-time professor in sports psychology, you can become a full-time sports psychologist working with athletes and coaches, or you can coach athletes and integrate sport psychology strategies into your coaching.

You might also consider a career in developing and selling sports psychology Audio and DVDs.

Allow me to share a quick story with you about my career… 20 years ago, I was studying sports psychology in graduate school at The University of Virginia.

My Ph.D. training prepared me to teach sports psychology to students in kinesiology or sports science. And I followed my training teaching college students sports psychology as an assistant professor.

I liked teaching, but I realized after two full years that my main passion was helping athletes improve mental toughness and achieve their goals.

So, I decided to make a career as a full-time sports psychology coach in 1994 after having worked with a few golfers prior to this time.

I wasn’t ready for what would follow… Graduate school never prepared me to start my own business as a career sports psychology coach to athletes.

You learn a lot in graduate school about how to do sports psychology, but I didn’t know anything about how to run a business as a mental game expert.

I was clueless about how to make a career as a mental coach.

I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how to find my niche. I was like a woodpecker trying to make a hole in a solid pane of glass (true story).

The bird’s pointless pecking on the window reminded me how I felt as a young mental game coaching professional first starting out…

I couldn’t make a break through. I was barking up the wrong tree. I was clueless about how to find work teaching others about what was learned in graduate school.

I had lots of questions (and doubts), but no good answers in my early years…

  • Can you really make a living as a sports psychology expert?
  • Who should I contact to find athletes and coaches to hire me?
  • How do I find work with athletes and teams?
  • Should I spend my time writing a book or talking to teams and athletes?
  • Should I offer my services for free initially?
  • Should I do a web site and how do you get a website up and running?
  • What if I can’t make this career work? Do I need to find a teaching job?
  • What are other successful mental game experts doing?

OK, fast-forward about 10 years… After countless years of trail and error, frustration, and hard work, I began to understand how to turn my passion into a successful career in sports psychology.

Over the years, I polished my programs, developed my own mental game assessments, started to offer programs that did sell, and learned how to help athletes take mental game concepts to application.

Today, I offer a sports psychology certification program called The Mental Game Coaching Professional Certification.

How can you start your career in sports psychology?

First, you need good training or an education. Several schools today offer sports psychology programs to prepare you.

Second, you have to find your niche.

I started working with golfers in the late 80s and eventually branched out to other sports.

Third, you have to find your passion.

What excites you about a career in sports psychology? Do you want to teach at a university? Do you want to coach athletes? Do you want to become a sports psychologist? Do you want to do seminars for teams?

You must be committed to this field and have a lot of staying power to turn this into a successful career in sport psychology.

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