sports psychology

Sports Psychology Masters Program and Job Options

Sports psychology is a growing field. A general definition of sports psychology would be learning to use the brain to accomplish maximum sporting performance. There are several common tools used in sports psychology, and as more is learned about the way that people respond to different tools, they will continue to change and develop accordingly. Much of the information learned about sports psychology is through academic learning, and several schools offer a sports psychology masters program.

Goal setting is one of the most important tools used in sports psychology. It is the process of setting an ideal for what you would like the future to be, and then determining ways to make that ideal a reality. By setting goals that are clearly defined you are able to tell more quickly how well you are doing in achieving those goals. Measuring your successes becomes easier when you set goals, and it provides motivation when those goals are either met or not.

A second tool used for sports psychology is imagery. Imagery is basically training with your mind. Using imagination is the basis for imagery, and can boost performance in sports by allowing you to practice when injured, pre-experience the achievement of goals, and mentally prepare for an athletic event and anything that might go wrong, without having to actually experience it physically.

Focus and flow, or how to achieve perfect concentration is the third tool used in sports psychology. In order to achieve what they call “flow” there are several factors which need to be in place. Some of those factors are the ability to perceive that your skills are good enough for the task you are looking to do, your competition is not too easy and therefore you do not become bored with it, you are in a relaxed environment, however, you are very alert, and you are not easily distracted. Being able to handle stress, avoid distraction and being fully focused on the task at hand are all very important. Focus and flow are at the very heart of sports psychology.

There are many different types of jobs which are available in sports psychology. Speaking to someone in your area, or researching online the different paths you might take can be very helpful in determining whether sports psychology is a career you might wish to pursue.

Certainly a sports psychology masters degree program, or a PhD program benefit in being able to find a job in this field, and working with any professional sports teams is certainly a competitive field. The rewards of working with a team, and becoming a part of that team are certainly many, and this is part of what drives people to become involved in a job in sports psychology.

The Importance of Sports Psychology in Basketball

However, there is a bit more to it than just making goals and striving to achieve them. The “striving” aspect needs a bit of sports psychology to fully achieve the goals that the athlete sets out. Sports psychology involves a mix of visualization, awareness, control, concentration, understanding, relaxation, and confidence.

There are many approaches to improve sports psychology in basketball players. One must first understand what sports psychology is and how it can benefit the athlete. For example, basketball players need to tune into the exact sound that gets them going, one possible sound could be the crowd cheering and rooting for their team. Once athletes are out on the court and they hear the crowd roaring, their motivation to achieve peak performance greatly increases. The emotional experience gained from removing the blocks enables the player to focus on and in their performance zone is really something that drives athletes to accomplish their goals much easier.

The first sports psychology center opened up in the 1920’s. Since then, the study of the psychology of sport has been of great interest to many psychologists. In the 1970’s, sports psychology was part of university curriculums nationwide and more focus and research has been placed in this field in recent decades. Mental training and other exercises are also created to improve emotional strength among players.

I recently worked with a College Basketball team. They were struggling with free-throw accuracy. I took seven of the team members and had them make 50 free throws to get a base line. I customized a mental training hypnosis for them and then had them shoot another 50 free throws. We tabulated the difference between the before and after hypnosis. Their overall percentage of free throws made increased by 7% from 73% to 80%. The best improvement was 24%. Four players improved 10% to 24%. The other three were about the same. This all took place after a 2½ hr. practice.

In their next game, their field goal percentage improved by 15%. In the following game, our test players again made 87.5% of their free throws.

As a by-product their field goal percentage jump up 10- 18% over the next few games.

The psychological importance of an athlete needs more attention than many think. Sports psychology sometimes can make or break an athlete’s day, week, or month while competing for his team or for himself. At the same time, sports psychology can help an athlete get out of a slump or maintain his or her high peak performance. Either way, when an athlete is not only physically, but mentally and emotionally strong, they can achieve all of the realistic goals that they set for themselves.