Sports psychologists specialise in studying and helping people’s mental state within the context of sport and physical activity. This could be helping athletes maintain strong mental health whilst training and competing in gruelling exercise or helping people who suffer from mental illnesses by using sport and exercise as a medium for recovery.
To become a sports psychologist you will need to gain a university degree. This could be a general psychology degree after which you can specialise in sports psychology or you can find an institution that offers a course specifically in sports psychology. There are many different courses offered including; three year bachelor degrees, four year sandwich degrees and combined courses in which you will spend half of your time studying psychology modules and the other half studying sports modules.
Before being accepted onto a psychology or sports psychology degree you will need to have gained at least five GCSEs graded A*-C; usually including ones in mathematics and science. After you have gained these you will need to carry on to study A levels; usually in psychology and, if studying sports psychology, one in physical education or another sports related subject.
It is always beneficial to gain as much experience as possible in order to prepare you for a career in sports psychology. This may be as a part time job while at college, working within your local mental health service or in a sports academy or training camp. If you enter a university course which is a sandwich course you will study the second or third year while working on a placement. This will give you practical skills which are very attractive to potential employers.
Career pathway after graduation
After graduating you may want to continue in education and study for a masters or PhD where you will carry out cutting-edge research within your chosen field. Another route is to increase your experience in your specialist field by gaining employment in either a private or NHS practice where you can develop your skills as a sports psychologist.