Sport Psyched!

As many of you know, I am a graduate student in a sport and exercise psychology program. While I love what I am studying, this field is a mouthful to say and even more misunderstood. I started my journey into the sport psychology world five years ago after undergoing knee surgery. While going through the rehabilitation process, I was excluded from many practices and drills due to my lack of mobility and strength. On the sideline, I met a woman who started talking with me about the field of sport psychology and how she received a master’s degree within the field. From that moment, I changed my major from business to Psychology and Exercise Science. This major change (no pun intended) was the first step into an ever-changing and growing world of sport psychology.

So, what is sport and exercise psychology? In the most concise way, sport psychology is connecting the mind and body to make the most of both. Within the field of sport and exercise psychology, individuals are given the tools needed to develop their mental muscle. We work with teams and individuals to help develop a mindset that fosters resiliency and success. Success looks different for different people, but the goal of sport psychology is to give individuals and teams the tools they need to get to be successful (whatever this may be). The field does not only apply to athletes. Sport and exercise psychology can benefit exercisers and other professionals. While it is referred to as Sport Psychology, it could be considered Life Psychology for the range of services it provides people. Within the field, we work with individuals wanted to make healthy changes.

How do we go about doing things like this? The field of sport psychology has many options for interventions. We talk with individuals about their self-talk, relaxation techniques, goal setting, social support systems, and imagery. These different skills are presented to our clients in unique and entertaining ways. The field has used the term “edutainment” to explain how we often present material. Using a combination of entertainment (sometimes arts and crafts) with education, we provide intervention programs for individuals.

The term “Sport Psychologist” is reserved for those within the field who have received their PhD in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. Sport Psychologists are able to work with athletes or individuals who have clinical needs. Those within the field who do not have the psychologist title are referred to as CMPCs (or Certified Mental Performance Consultants). Personally, I like the idea of being a “Mental Performance Consultant.” This credential simplifies what we do within the field. Whether you are looking to become more physically active, improve your mood, or going to the Olympics, the world of Sport Psychology could help you.

The field is relatively new. I went to the 33rd annual conference last October. I am looking forward to watching the field develop and playing a role in the advancement and advertising of the benefits of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

I have always enjoyed the benefits of regular exercise. To me, the field of Sport and Exercise Psychology helps people find ways to be successful within their sport and within their lives. Exercise has so many physical and psychological benefits. I hope to promote the use of exercise to improve mental health and well-being.

Thanks for reading!

-Mikaela

P.S. Apologies to my faithful readers for leaving you hanging for a couple weeks. Graduate school has allowed me to write for fun a lot with my courses.  

“I think you have to try and fail because failure gets you closer to what you’re good at.”

Louis C.K.

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