Performance Enchancement

Perhaps the most well-known and broadest specialization in sports psychology is “sports enhancement." In sports enhancement, sports psychologists use their knowledge of how physical activity and sports affect the brain to identify potential problems that athletes face and enact methods to help those athletes overcome those issues to maximize their potential on the court or field. They also work firsthand with coaches, sports organizations, and other members of the athletes' teams to give them the tools they need to support athletes with the challenges they may need to overcome.

Rehabilitation and Injury Recovery

Another well-known specialization is referred to as "rehabilitation and injury recovery." Sports psychologists who work in this specialization provide a wide array of services, such as working with athletes through the emotional toll an athlete may face after receiving an injury, ensuring that the correct therapy is being used to treat injured athletes, and working with team doctors and physical therapists in authorizing an athlete to get back to work.

RELATED: How to Become a Sports Psychologist

Team Dynamics

Without healthy team dynamics, there is no team. Team dynamics usually refers to communication, role identification, and interpersonal relationships within an athletic team. A sports psychologist specializing in team dynamics develops methods for these team members to enact on and off the court. They also may assist coaches in developing methods to ensure healthy relationships, boundaries, and communication among team members while developing effective strategies to create and maintain a strong relationship between themselves and the athletes.

Youth Sports Psychology

Youth athletic sports teams and organizations comprise a vast portion of sports psychologists’ clientele. The type of work done with these groups is not unlike the other types of work that sports psychologists may assist with among other groups, such as helping young athletes overcome mental challenges that may arise on the field and working with coaches to ensure healthy relationships among teammates. They may also help coaches develop an effective therapeutic sports program with the tools and strategies they've studied.

Sport Psychology Research

Lastly, sports psychologists play a vital role in researching athletes’ mental health issues on and off the field. They develop strategies and methods for athletes and coaches to utilize to minimize the effect of these issues and ensure that each athlete is equipped to handle the stresses and anxiety of performance. This research utilizes various techniques, such as lab studies and experiments, and working directly with athletes on the field when necessary. Those interested in research careers within sports psychology may wish to pursue a doctorate degree in sports psychology, such as a Ph.D. or PsyD.

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