At Launch Sports Performance, we are often asked about the difference between a mental game coach or an LPC and a sports psychologist. That is such a great question, so we have outlined some of the basic facts below:
What does a sports psychologist do?
Sports psychologists are mental health professionals who have a PhD in a counseling/psychology related field and specialize in helping athletes of all levels improve their performance and well-being. They use psychological principles and techniques to help athletes overcome challenges, develop mental skills, and achieve their goals. There are two main types of sports psychologists: educational sports psychologists and clinical sports psychologists.
Educational sports psychologists focus on helping athletes improve their mental skills for performance. They may teach athletes how to set goals, manage stress, visualize success, and develop a positive mindset. Educational sports psychologists may also work with coaches and teams to create a positive and supportive environment.
Clinical sports psychologists are licensed psychologists who provide mental health services to athletes. They may help athletes with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Clinical sports psychologists may also work with athletes who are recovering from injuries or who are struggling to cope with the pressure of competition.
What other professionals besides sports psychologists help athletes?
Athletes can also benefit from Master’s Level Therapists (often Licensed as LPC’s or LCSW’s), who provide mental health services to athletes. These professionals have specialized training in common problems faced by athletes such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or trauma. Additionally, professionals with Master’s degrees in Sport Psychology and designation as a Certified Mental Performance Consultant are also able to work with athletes on skills to improve performance and work on mental toughness and positive mindset in overcoming performance barriers.
What do sports psychologists do on a daily basis?
The specific tasks that sports psychologists perform vary depending on their work setting and the needs of their clients. However, some common tasks include:
- Conducting individual and group counseling sessions
- Teaching mental skills workshops
- Consulting with coaches and teams
- Conducting research on sports psychology topics
- Writing and speaking about sports psychology
What are the benefits of working with a sports psychologist?
There are many benefits to working with a sports psychologist, including:
- Improved performance: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop the mental skills they need to perform their best under pressure.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Sports psychologists can help athletes manage stress and anxiety, which can lead to improved performance and overall well-being.
- Increased confidence and motivation: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop a positive mindset and increase their motivation to succeed.
- Improved coping skills: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop coping skills to deal with challenges such as injuries, setbacks, and pressure.
- Enhanced mental toughness: Sports psychologists can help athletes develop mental toughness, which is the ability to stay focused and motivated even in the face of adversity.
How to find a sports psychologist
If you are interested in working with a sports psychologist, there are a few things you can do to find one:
- Ask your coach or athletic trainer for a referral.
- Search for sports psychologists in your area online.
- Contact the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) to find a certified sports psychologist.
When to see a sports psychologist
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, some common reasons why athletes may seek the help of a sports psychologist include:
- Performance anxiety
- Difficulty coping with pressure
- Lack of confidence or motivation
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Injury recovery
- Transitioning to retirement
If you are an athlete and you are struggling with any of these issues, or if you simply want to improve your mental game, consider working with a sports psychologist. They can help you develop the mental skills you need to achieve your goals and reach your full potential.
Here are some specific examples of how sports psychologists can help athletes:
- Help athletes overcome performance anxiety. Sports psychologists can teach athletes how to manage their anxiety and stay focused under pressure. They can also help athletes develop coping mechanisms for dealing with negative thoughts and self-doubt.
- Help athletes improve their confidence and motivation. Sports psychologists can help athletes develop a positive mindset and increase their motivation to succeed. They can also help athletes identify and overcome the obstacles that are preventing them from reaching their goals.
- Help athletes develop mental toughness. Sports psychologists can help athletes develop the mental toughness they need to stay focused and motivated even in the face of adversity. They can also teach athletes how to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.
- Help athletes cope with injuries. Sports psychologists can help athletes cope with the emotional and psychological challenges of injury. They can also help athletes develop a plan for returning to sport safely and successfully.
- Help athletes transition to retirement. Sports psychologists can help athletes transition to retirement from sport in a healthy and positive way. They can also help athletes develop new goals and interests outside of sport.
If you are an athlete, or if you work with athletes, consider working with a sports psychologist, an LPC (or other master’s level therapist), or a CMPC (Certified Mental Performance Consultant). Professional services can be a valuable asset in helping you or your athletes achieve your goals and reach your full potential.