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Areas of psychology

Sport and exercise psychology

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Harnessing Your Performance Potential 

Sport and exercise psychologists have studied the psychological factors that influence sport, exercise and performance, and apply this knowledge to assist individuals improve the quality and consistency of their results and performance. Essentially, they help you realise your performance potential. 

Sport and exercise psychologists often work in private practices, which anyone can attend, as well as at elite academies or institutes of sport, working with elite athletes. They also work for professional sports teams, such as in the AFL, A League, NRL, and NBL.

Who uses a sport and exercise psychologist?

Sport and exercise psychologists are sought by a range of people of all ages and abilities including:

  • Amateur athletes
  • Young athletes
  • Elite athletes
  • Professional athletes and teams
  • Performing artists (singers, dancers, musicians)
  • Coaches, managers, and administrators
  • People wanting to begin or maintain exercise
  • Umpires
  • Sports organisations

How a sport and exercise psychologist can help

A sport and exercise psychologist can assist you, your children, or your team with a large variety of factors that might be currently holding you back from your best performances. These include:

  • Mental skill development
  • Mental toughness
  • Performance enhancement
  • Anxiety management (nerves)
  • Concentration
  • Mental preparation and routines
  • Preventing overtraining and burn-out
  • Team building and leadership training
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Balancing sport and study/employment/home life
  • Debriefing and program evaluation
  • Psychometric evaluation

How often should I see a sport and exercise psychologist?

Although elite and professional athletes often see their sport psychologist regularly (weekly or fortnightly) during their career, many individuals who see a sport psychologist on a private basis do so only for a limited time and can still get great results. 

Typically, someone may see their sport and exercise psychologist between four and six times over two to six months. Generally, the sport and exercise psychologist will teach skills and techniques and then allow the client to use them in practice, competition or in a performance before returning one to three weeks later for an evaluation. Further refinements and experimentation may then occur over time as performances improve. 

Where do I find a sport and exercise psychologist?

A good start is the APS Find a Psychologist™

Can I get a rebate?

In some cases, you may be eligible to receive a rebate when seeing a sport and exercise psychologist. If you have a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP you are eligible to receive a Medicare rebate. Contact your GP to see if you're eligible.

Standards

The APS College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists develops and safeguards the standards of practice and advises on the education and training of sport and exercise psychologists. College Members and Academic Members are required to undertake regular professional development activities in the area of sport and exercise psychology to maintain their skill and stay up to date in their field.

Members of the Australian Psychological Society College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists will also have the following post-nominals after their name:

  • MCSEP (Member of the College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists)