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Your guide to sport and performance psychology

The sport and performance psychology field combines a deep understanding of psychology and human behaviour through a sport-focused lens. The field of sport psychology, also known as performance psychology or exercise psychology, has  accelerated in the last 20 years  with the increased understanding that sport performance is impacted by mental wellbeing. Sport psychology focuses on strengthening psychological, physiological and technical training. It is an exciting industry in which sport psychologists play a crucial role in athletes’ training regime. Exercise psychologists help players facing intense fatigue, anxiety and stress, using their psychology background to support athletes achieve level-headed, motivated and focused mindsets.    

How to become a sport psychologist 

In order to become a qualified sport psychologist, students must pursue higher education. Students are first required to obtain either an undergraduate degree or a  Graduate Diploma in Psychology . After completing a foundational course, those wanting to become certified psychologists can complete fourth-year studies, which enables entry into a Masters or Doctorate qualification. Upon successful completion, students will be eligible to register as a practising psychologist.  

The final stage to specialising in sport psychology is by receiving an endorsement for Sport Psychology through training with an approved practitioner. Training periods can vary depending on your level of educational background, however, once completed you will receive accreditation from the  Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)  as an official Sports Psychologist.     

What do sport and performance psychologists do? 

Sport psychologists are important team members, they help athletes reach their potential through safe and reliable training methods. Performance psychologists look after the mental welfare of all different types of athletes, which in turn improves their physical ability.  

These are  some key responsibilities  of sports psychologists:   

Anxiety, stress and energy management 

Athletes are put under immense pressure by their trainers, team members, club owners and fans. Using methods taught in psychology training to ease anxiety and stress whilst organising energy output is crucial for a players’ mental health. Under the industry’s microscope, players can forget that their mental state affects their performance and this is where an exercise psychologist can help players to prioritise their wellbeing. 

Goal setting techniques 

Exercise psychologists help their patients by setting up achievable and motivational goals. Helping athletes develop an action plan which allows them to reach their end goal is crucial for keeping motivation and performance strong throughout a season or long training period, which in turn enables better overall performance. Setting effective goals is an important psychological tool for motivation and overcoming challenges. Sports psychologists understand how to create personal, achievable and motivating goals.     

Attention, concentration and focus control 

A deep understanding of psychology allows exercise psychologists to teach their athletes better ways to sharpen their focus. Athletes can lose focus when performing under stress or in front of large crowds. Performance psychologists give their athletes the tools they need to reduce the noise so they can focus on performing at their best.    

Team building exercises  

Performance psychologists can improve team cohesion by developing group strengthening exercises. With the added pressures of working within the sports industry, group conflict can sometimes ensue. With training in conflict resolution and the ability to diagnose the trigger of friction and hostility, sports and performance psychologists can improve team unity. This teamwork can be in group sports, amongst players or between different stakeholders and coaches.    

Olympic champions realise success with a sports psychologist 

The Australian Olympic swimming team struck gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics with the help of their trusted sport psychologist,  Georgia Ridler . Working alongside coaches and managers, Georgia ensured that the team’s mental wellbeing was a priority, allowing them to compete at their best. Overlooking team cohesion and ensuring that the athlete's anxiety and mental distractions were well managed, she was a key team member. The Australian Olympic Swim Team achieved great success at the 2016 games, taking home ten swimming medals, including three gold, four silver and three bronze medals.    

Psychology has unlimited career pathways 

Undertaking study in psychology can lead to a variety of unexpected career pathways such as that within the sports industry. A strong understanding of human behaviour lends itself to several industries and a variety of different job opportunities.  Sport and performance psychology  is amongst many interesting specialisations within the field psychology. Studying psychology will grant you transferrable skills and give you the flexibility to pave your own unique career path. 

To learn how a  Graduate Diploma in Psychology  is the first step towards a career in sports psychology,  make an appointment  to speak with an advisor today. 

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Doctor of Philosophy

Make a significant contribution to exercise science and sport research by exploring areas such as movement analysis and sport performance.

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4 years full-time or part-time equivalent

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Current Deakin Students

To access your official course details for the year you started your degree, please visit the  handbook

Course overview

Make a significant contribution to exercise science/sport by undertaking PhD research.

You can commence PhD research in areas such as exercise science/sport and physical activity and nutrition. This includes epidemiological, behavioural and social science analyses of activity in whole populations and special groups; studies of muscle and bone metabolism and physiology of muscle.

Other study areas include movement analysis and sport performance relating particularly to motor skill acquisition, perception and action, movement economy, and fitness in older adults.

Research in the discipline of nutrition also includes measurement and evaluation of food sources, sports nutrition, and diet and disease with particular interest in cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis.

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2024 course information

The award conferred upon completion is recognised in the Australian Qualifications Framework at Level 10

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  • Biomechanics, Motor Control and Sports Medicine
  • Coaching and Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Pedagogy and Socio-cultural Studies
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physical Activity and Health
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Para Sport and Adapted Physical Activity

Coaching and Sport Psychology

Coaching and Sport Psychology research examines the psycho-social and pedagogical aspects of sport participation from the perspective a variety of actors (e.g. athlete, coaches, officials) in a range of sport physical activity settings.

Key areas of research include:

  • Positive psychology with a focus on self-determination theory, autonomy-supportive learning environments, and mental toughness
  • Coach development using psycho-social and pedagogical frameworks such as workplace learning theories
  • Conceptualisations of leadership and culture in performance sport settings
  • The learning of sport participants in varying settings (e.g. action sports, Indigenous sport) through pedagogical and socio-cultural approaches
  • The development of mental skills for performance enhancement, life satisfaction, and self-worth
  • Sport for development.

Learn more about coaching and sport psychology research below.

Researchers

Current and previously funded research projects (hmns-led).

Prof Cliff Mallett Dr Jordan Lefebvre Dr Steven Rynne

Current projects

Steven Rynne

Cliff Mallett

Brisbane Broncos
Rugby League Club
Limited
2023-2024

Cliff Mallett

Steven Rynne

 

 

Australian Sports
Commission

2021–2024

Cliff Mallett

Steven Rynne

Australian Sports
Commission
2021–2024

Previous  projects

Steven RynneMulticultural Australia
Ltd
2021-2023

Steven Rynne

Bob Crudginton

Cliff Mallett

Australia-Japan
Foundation
2020-2022

Cliff Mallett

Bob Crudgington

Vincent Kelly

Mike Castle

Rugby League Research Projects2019-2022

Cliff Mallett

Matthew Sanders

James Kirby

Steven Rynne

 

 

Rugby League Research Projects

2017–2019

Stephanie Hanrahan

International WaterCentre

2018–2019

Related Research Centre

Centre for Sport and Society (CSS)

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12 Sport Psychology

Andrea Lamont-Mills

Introduction

Sport and exercise psychology is the scientific study and application of human behaviour in the sport and exercise contexts (Gill et al., 2017). Sport and exercise psychology is often studied with one of two objectives in mind: 1) to understand the psychological impact on human performance, and 2) to understand how sport and exercise participation impacts an individual’s psychological development and health (Weinberg & Gould, 2019). Exploring psychology from this framework has allowed for many significant discoveries, including the development of theories and models which aim to account for the effects of variables such as stress and exercise on outcomes like health and performance.

There are many careers related to sport and exercise psychology. Perhaps the most common career identified by students is ‘sport psychologist’. In Australia, psychologists who have the appropriate postgraduate qualifications and who have completed a Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) registrar program in sport and exercise psychology are called ‘sport and exercise psychologists’. Some may spend most of their time providing direct services to athletes and teams, however many won’t. These sport and exercise psychologists will work with a wide range of clients depending on their training and competency. Although overlapping in some regards, sport and exercise psychologists and clinical psychologists have different scopes of professional practice. That said, there’s an emerging specialisation in sport psychology called clinical sport psychology, where emphasis is on the mental health and wellbeing of athletes and coaches rather than on enhancing performance. From this perspective, psychological distress is considered for how it may manifest differently in sport contexts with clinical interventions being applied in ways that are specific to athletes and coaches (Marks et al., 2021).

This chapter will provide a brief overview of common methods and significant findings in foundational aspects of sport and exercise psychology. It will also explore more recent developments within the field, as well as career paths, scopes of practice, and educational training paths for psychologists working in this field.

Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology

Sport and exercise psychology is a relatively young scholarly discipline in comparison to other areas of study in psychology. It has its beginnings in the latter part of the nineteenth century when American psychologist Norman Triplett wanted to understand why athletes sometimes performed better in groups than alone. Since that time, the field has grown tremendously. In this chapter, we’ll focus primarily on the ‘sport’ aspect of psychology, while acknowledging that the ‘exercise’ aspect is highly related but is often considered to be a separate field of study. Even so, we’ll use ‘sport and exercise psychologist’ throughout the chapter as in Australia this is the endorsed area of practice term that the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (Ahpra) registers.

With respect to training to be a sport and exercise psychologist, you need to undertake an evidence-based postgraduate training program, typically in the country that you want to practice in. There are multiple national and international societies and organisations supporting the research and/or practice of sport and exercise psychology such as the Australian Psychological Society (APS) College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists , the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) , and the Asian-South Pacific Association of Sport Psychology (ASPASP) . Such growth in research and practice demonstrates that there’s demand for knowledge and service in these areas of expertise.

Particularly in the context of sport performance, increased media attention along with the recognition and acceptance of sport psychology as a performance-enhancing tool has led to increased numbers of athletes, coaches, and sport organisations seeking out sport and exercise psychologists for their expertise and services. For example, sport and exercise psychologists are now commonly found practicing in sports such as golf, rugby union, netball, soccer, and hockey. Sport psychology has become integrated into many Australian sports, including cricket. For example, Dr Michael Lloyd has been working as the Lead Psychologist for Cricket Australia for 15 years and was a part of their team staff during the 2019 Ashes series. The Australian Olympic team has had sport psychologists working with Olympic athletes for over 30 years, and in 2021 Georgia Ridler was the Lead Psychologist for the Australian Olympic Team.

Demand for the integration of sport psychology into the sport environment is evident as professional development opportunities are now often included in both coach and support staff training. For example, Sport Australia’s Intermediate Coaching General Principles course includes a module on sport psychology, with more general aspects of sport psychology such as goal setting being incorporated into the Community Coaching General Principles course . Sport professionals including exercise physiologists, sport medicine physicians, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and strength and conditioning coaches often take sport psychology courses as requirements or electives during their university training.

Both sport and exercise psychologists and related sports professionals serve an integral part of integrated support teams (ISTs) in the Australian sport system. Integrated support teams include coaches, sport and exercise psychologists, strength and conditioning specialists, nutritionists, and medical staff, among other experts whose purpose is to help support and provide resources for athletes and coaches. A sport and exercise psychologist also has a unique role that is different to other members of the IST. Like the other professionals, they support athletes and coaches through education and skills development (mental skills in this case). However, as their training is firmly as psychologists, this also enables them to assist and provide expertise in enhancing the mental wellbeing of athletes, coaches, and their support networks (e.g., partners, parents, children). In addition to this, sport and exercise psychologists have skills and expertise that can assist in the functioning of the IST itself, helping bring professionals from differing disciplines together by enhancing communication and team dynamics. Additionally, they can support other professionals in their work by providing guidance on topics such as the psychology of injury rehabilitation, and coach-athlete management.

The ability of sport and exercise psychologists to work across both performance enhancement and mental health areas is a unique aspect of the Australian training system. Unlike the Canadian and American systems – where most psychology training takes place at the postgraduate level – in Australia, this training starts at the undergraduate level. This means sport and exercise psychologists have the same base level skills and knowledge of psychological disorders and interventions as clinical, educational and developmental, or counselling psychologists. Thus, sport and exercise psychologists can work with mental health as well as performance presentations. Increased conversations and visibility surrounding mental health issues in sport has raised awareness of athlete and coach mental health and wellbeing.

Research has examined the link between sport and exercise participation and their relationship to mental health, as well as the impact of physical activity on the prevention and treatment of mental health challenges and conditions (see Schinke et al., 2017). In addition to research, well-recognised and successful athletes such as Darius Boyd (rugby league), Ian Thorpe (swimming), and Lauren Jackson (basketball) have openly discussed their challenges with mental health issues. This has created an opportunity for other athletes to express and discuss more openly their own mental health experiences. Although more complex clinical mental health issues may be beyond the scope of practice of some sport and exercise psychologists, the mental health of athletes, coaches and umpires remains an important topic of research, discussion, and practice for those interested in the field of sport and exercise psychology. Demonstrating the importance of sport and mental health, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has recently established a national network of 30 Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement managers across a range of sports as well as an AIS Athlete and Wellbeing and Advisory Engagement Committee.

Significant Research Findings

Although there is a myth that sport psychology is only applicable to elite sport performers, research and applications from this field have far-reaching impact. For example, there’s a significant body of research exploring the psychological impact of early specialisation in youth sport. Research demonstrates that young children will not benefit from early sport specialisation in the majority of sports, and they may have a greater risk of overuse injury and burnout from concentrated participation (e.g., LaPrade, et al., 2016). Research in sport and exercise psychology has also demonstrated positive benefits of sport and physical activity participation in adults. For example, Defence veterans with a disability have a greater sense of independence and choice when engaging in quality physical activity experiences (Shirazipour et al., 2017). Perhaps gaining more mainstream attention, research has demonstrated that sport-related concussions may be associated with increased risk of mood disturbances and depression (Covassin et al., 2017). Consequently, it’s important to recognise that the study of sport psychology is relevant to many contexts and settings beyond the competitive field of play.

Further demonstrating the widespread applicability of sport psychology, there’s a substantial body of evidence to support the notion that physical activity – including sport participation – can both help prevent and treat some forms of mental health challenges and illness. For example, a systematic review conducted by Mammen and Faulkner (2013) found a significant, inverse relationship between physical activity at baseline and depression at follow-up in 25 of 30 longitudinal studies. Furthermore, their results suggested that any level of physical activity might help prevent depression. Moreover, an earlier and well-cited longitudinal study by Camacho et al. (1991) found a relationship between inactivity and the incidence of depression over the course of almost 20 years of research.

Recently, more attention has been focused on the impact of physical activity – including sport participation – on the treatment of mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Hu and colleagues (2020) conducted a systematic review of meta-analyses examining the effect of exercise as an intervention and prevention for depression in non-clinical populations. They identified eight meta-analysis studies, and found that across six of these, exercise significantly reduced depressive symptoms in adults, the elderly, children, and adolescents. Using a clinical population, Rosenbaum et al. (2014) conducted a systematic review of studies using physical activity interventions. They found that physical activity reduced symptoms of depression in people with mental illness, and discovered a reduction of symptoms associated with schizophrenia and improvements in other physical health markers in people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

More recently, White and colleagues (2017) examined the impact of domain-specific physical activity on mental health. That is, ‘Does the context in which one performs a physical activity (e.g., leisure versus work-related physical activity) have an impact on one’s mental health?’ Using a meta-analytic approach, they found that leisure-time physical activity and transport physical activity both had a positive relationship with mental health. They also found that leisure-time physical activity and participation in school sport had an inverse relationship with mental ill-health (the greater the participation, the lower levels of ill health). However, work-related physical activity had a positive relationship with mental ill health – if an individual’s main sources of physical activity were performed at the workplace, it may have a negative impact on one’s mental health.

Common Frameworks for Research in Sport Psychology

Weinberg and Gould (2019) state that the ultimate goal of psychological skills training is self-regulation. They define self-regulation as the ability to work toward your goals by monitoring and managing your thoughts, feeling, and behaviours. They also describe psychological skills training as the systematic and consistent practice of mental skills for the purpose of enhancing performance, and increasing pleasure and satisfaction in sport participation – thus leading to greater abilities in self-regulation. The field of sport psychology has examined and shown support for a number of basic psychological skills found to enhance performance and overall satisfaction. The following section briefly describes these skills, and some significant findings that support the implementation of these skills.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is one of the most used performance enhancement strategies (Forsblom et al., 2019). Goal setting is commonly used to improve motivation and focus, and thus, performance. Generally, goal setting in sport involves helping athletes to identify and set defined goals (i.e., outcome, performance, and process goals), and to identify and set goals for varying contexts (i.e., practice and competition goals) appropriate to the athlete’s performance expectations. Effective goal setting involves setting both long-term (e.g., this year) and short-term (e.g., today or this week) goals, and includes goal setting evaluation (e.g., ‘Did I achieve my goals?’).

Overall, goal setting has shown to be an effective technique for increasing the likelihood of achieving one’s goal (Kyllo & Landers, 1995). Research examining the relationship between various types of goals and performance across a variety of contexts generally indicates that goals associated with moderate to high levels of difficulty are linked to better performances (see Weinberg, 2000; Weinberg, 2004 for reviews). Goal setting also seems to be most effective on simple tasks rather than those that are very complex (Burton, 1989).

Stress/Arousal Management

A significant amount of research in sport psychology has theorised about and examined the impact of arousal on sport performance. Arousal is the combination of physiological and psychological activation that ranges from deep sleep to intense excitement (Weinberg & Gould, 2019). A variety of theories and models attempt to account for the impact of specific physiological and cognitive states/traits on performance. Such states and traits include stress, anxiety, and excitement. For the purpose and scope of this chapter, one’s level of arousal or activation will be the preferred term.

Many theories and models have been developed to explain the relationship between arousal and performance, and to discuss them all in sufficient detail for accuracy would be beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead, to provide a broad conceptual overview, only those theories and models that have received significant attention in the field will be overviewed, and the focus will be on the broad concept of arousal/activation rather than the specific state(s) or trait(s).

One of the first theories proposed to account for the relationship between arousal and performance was drive theory (Spence & Spence, 1966). This theory describes the relationship between arousal and performance in a positive linear fashion where a greater level of arousal leads to a greater level of performance. Although drive theory may be suitable for some tasks (e.g., powerlifting), most sport psychology researchers were dissatisfied with its ability to predict performances across a variety of tasks. The field thus turned to the inverted-U hypothesis ( Figure 12.1 ), which posits that as arousal increases, so too does performance. However, once arousal reaches a certain limit, performance is expected to decrease. Both very high and very low levels of arousal elicit poor performances, whereas moderate levels of arousal result in optimal performance levels (Landers & Arent, 2010).

Diagram of the the inverted-U hypothesis

Although a more inclusive model, the inverted-U hypothesis lacks the ability to account for individual differences, and differences across sport or tasks. That is, moderate levels of arousal may be optimal for hockey, but perhaps not for archery or sprinting. This challenge of accounting for individual and situational variations lead to Hanin’s (2007) model of individualised zones of optimal functioning (IZOF). Simply stated, this model posits that each individual has their own zone of optimal functioning where anxiety levels can vary from one individual to another. Outside of this zone, athletes perform poorly. Hanin’s IZOF model was unique in that an athlete’s ‘zone’ didn’t have to be at a moderate level of arousal for optimal performance to occur. For example, Athlete 1’s optimal zone could be at a high level of arousal, whereas Athlete 2’s would be a low-moderate level of arousal. Hanin also suggested that the optimal arousal level was not simply a point on a scale, but more of a zone or bandwidth. This model has been supported in the research with regards to its relationship with performance. However, it is criticised for having a lack of theoretical support (Gould & Tuffey, 1996).

Through understanding how arousal impacts athletic performance, sport and exercise psychologists can educate and support athletes in managing arousal and stress levels so that the athletes can achieve optimal performance in a variety of circumstances. To achieve this, sport and exercise psychologists first help the athlete to become aware of their levels of arousal and activation during training and performance (Weinberg & Gould, 2019). Sport and exercise psychologists have several techniques to assist with arousal management. These techniques are often categorised into either physiological arousal or anxiety reduction techniques, and cognitive arousal or anxiety reduction techniques. Physiological techniques for arousal and stress management include, but are not limited to, breath control, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback. Cognitive techniques for arousal and stress management include, but are not limited to, relaxation response and desensitisation (Weinberg & Gould, 2019).

There can be some overlap in the techniques whereby engaging in physiological techniques may also impact one’s level of cognitive arousal. For example, when an individual engages in a breathing exercise aimed at managing physiological arousal, it can also have a positive impact on their cognitive arousal. Research conclusively supports that arousal and stress management can result in better performance. Rumbold et al. (2012) conducted a review of 64 intervention studies where the goal was to reduce stress and increase performance. They found that 81 per cent of the studies showed improvement in stress management, and 77 per cent of the studies found improvements in performance. It also seemed that multimodal approaches (using more than just one strategy) were more effective than single modalities.

Many sport and exercise psychologists have reported that imagery – also referred to as visualisation – is a tool athletes often use both in competition and in practice. As a spectator, you may have observed athletes engaged in imagery, or you, yourself, may use imagery as a tool for enhancing performance (or use daydreaming as a distraction!). The premise of imagery is the creation of an image in our minds – either by recalling actual events, or by constructing our own images of events we hope for, or want to avoid, happening. The term imagery is often preferred to visualisation as it’s not restricted to simply one sense, as the term visualisation suggests. In addition to vision, imagery can include one’s auditory sense (the sounds of the crowd), one’s sense of smell (the smell of chlorine at the swimming pool), one’s sense of touch (the feel of the ball in your hands), one’s kinaesthetic sense (the feeling of your limbs while executing a dive from the platform), and even one’s sense of taste (the salty taste of sweat while running long distances). Imagery is also a tool that can be used to rehearse performances mentally, whether the goal is learning a new routine (learning a new gymnastics floor routine) or helping to manage emotions in a high-pressure situation (imaging a large crowd at a grand final match).

Research examining the effectiveness of imagery can be complex, particularly because it’s not possible to actually see what the athlete is imaging. However, some case studies have shown that the use of imagery enhances performance and other psychological variables such as confidence and the ability to cope with anxiety (Evans et al., 2004; Post et al., 2012).

Research has indicated that confidence is the most consistent factor for differentiating between the most and least successful athletes (Jones & Hardy, 1990). In sport psychology, self-confidence is defined as the belief that you can successfully perform a behaviour (Weinberg & Gould, 2019). Vealey and Chase (2008) further describe sport self-confidence as a social cognitive construct. They differentiate between state self-confidence (e.g., how confident you feel today, before a particular competition) and trait self-confidence (e.g., how you generally feel in the day-to-day), and suggest that sport self-confidence can be viewed more as a trait than a state, depending on the context. Closely related to sport confidence as defined by Vealey and Chase is the concept of self-efficacy. Bandura (1997) defines self-efficacy as the perception of an individual’s ability to successfully perform a task. Thus, one could consider self-efficacy to be situation specific self-confidence. For the purpose and scope of this chapter, these constructs will be combined when discussing relevant research.

Confidence has been shown to impact other sport-related psychological factors. For example, confidence can impact how an athlete interprets their level of anxiety. Specifically, when an athlete is high in confidence, they’re more likely to interpret anxiety as facilitative, as compared to when an athlete is low in confidence (Jones & Swain, 1995). Confidence has also been shown to influence perceptions of effort: athletes high in confidence, when compared to athletes low in confidence, tend to perceive that they expend less effort on a particular task (Hutchinson et al., 2008). Most importantly, confidence has also been shown to influence performance: athletes higher in confidence tend to perform better than those lower in confidence (Feltz, 1984; Moritz et al., 2000). Because confidence can be considered as more of a psychological trait or a modifiable state depending on the context (as opposed to a skill), sport and exercise psychologists will often use tools such as goal setting and imagery in training over time to enhance self-confidence, and thus impact performance.

The ability to focus – or to ignore distractions and pay attention to relevant cues at the correct time – is one of the most important skills an athlete can possess. Perhaps even as a student, you’ve had difficulty focusing on the task at hand while being distracted by your electronic devices, the environment around you, or even your own thoughts. In sport psychology, we use the terms focus, concentration, attention, and managing distractions interchangeably as they all refer to the same skill of being able to direct our attention to the appropriate cue at the appropriate time.

Individuals may often report that they have trouble paying attention or concentrating. However, the reality is that we’re always paying attention to something . If we find ourselves distracted or having difficulty focusing, it usually means we’re not focusing on the appropriate cues. Nideffer (1976) and colleagues (Nideffer & Segal, 2001) described attentional focus along two dimensions: width (i.e., broad or narrow) and direction (i.e., external or internal) ( Figure 12.2 ). A broad attentional focus would be beneficial when an athlete must be aware of and react to many changing cues in their environment. A narrow attentional focus would be helpful when an athlete must only focus on one or two cues, such as a target or finish line. An external focus of attention refers to attention focused on an external cue such as an object in the environment. Lastly, an internal focus of attention refers to attention focused inwardly such as one’s own thoughts and feelings.

The four types of attentional focus with relevant examples

To assess an individual’s attentional style (i.e., a person’s typical attentional disposition), Nideffer (1976) developed the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS). Some research has supported the idea that focused attention is most beneficial when it’s directed externally as compared to internally. Indeed, Wulf’s (2013) review found that an external focus of attention was more beneficial across a number of tasks including speed, endurance, and accuracy types of tasks than an internal focus of attention. Ways to train and improve concentration skills include using simulations, predetermined cues, establishing good habits, routines, and competition plans, and overlearning skills (Weinberg & Gould, 2019).

Team Dynamics

A significant number of sports aren’t played alone – athletes often compete as a member of a team. Even in individual sports such as athletics, athletes may compete as an individual but are members of a larger team all competing for points, in addition to individual medals. The study of groups, or teams, has been a popular area of research in sport psychology, just as it has been in related fields such as organisational psychology and social psychology. These disciplines share many theories and models in their study of group performance.

There are a variety of approaches to group dynamic research in sport, but areas that have received significant attention, both in research and practice, are cohesion and collective efficacy. Cohesion in sport has been defined as a dynamic process in which a team has a tendency to stick together and stay united in pursuit of its goal and/or for the satisfaction of its members (Eys et al., 2020). Widmeyer et al. (1985) developed the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ) to measure cohesion in sport, and in doing so, conceptualised group cohesion into two major categories: group integration (i.e., perception of the group as a unit), and individual attraction to the group (i.e., a member’s personal attraction to the group or team). Further, each of these categories can then be divided into either task or social aspects leading to a four-factor model of group cohesion. A meta-analytic review including 46 studies examining the relationship between group cohesion and performance in sport found a moderate to large effect size such that increased group cohesion is associated with increased performance outcomes (Carron et al., 2002).

Collective efficacy is a ‘group’s shared belief in its conjoint capability to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainment’ (Bandura, 1997, p.477). Essentially, collective efficacy reflects a team’s level of confidence. Research has demonstrated that collective efficacy has a positive impact on team performance and that prior team performance can also have an impact on collective efficacy (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998; Myers, Feltz, et al., 2004; Myers, Payment, et al., 2004).

Contemporary Methods and Developments

Mindfulness.

Have you ever noticed yourself getting distracted during a task and then felt feelings of upset like anger, guilt, or frustration because you got distracted? This type of experience is a common one. While thoughts and events can distract a person from their point of focus (studying, communicating, performing a known skill), the evaluations or judgements that follow the distraction can become even more distracting. Researchers have theorised that these evaluations and judgements can lead to lowered performance in sport because of a focus on task-irrelevant thoughts (Gardner & Moore, 2004; Kaufman et al., 2009). They highlight the importance of bringing the focus of attention back to what is most important here and now: your task.

The practice of mindfulness can help in moments of distraction, improving performance in daily tasks and athletic pursuits alike. Some may think of being mindful as simply having a calm demeanour in stressful situations, but it’s much more than this. Being mindful involves being present with one’s circumstances intentionally and without judgment (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Despite the simplicity of the mindfulness concept, its practice can be challenging. For those who do learn to be more mindful, the rewards can be numerous, including the potential to improve sleep and focus (MacDonald et al., 2018), reduce stress (Lundqvist et al., 2018; Vidic et al., 2018), and improve performance (Zhang et al., 2016).

Originally popularised in North America by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine and Zen Buddhist, mindfulness is defined as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally’ (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). This definition is based on Kabat-Zinn’s personal study of Buddhism but maintains that mindfulness-based interventions need not promote or necessitate the practice of Buddhism, although some may find this helpful (Kabat-Zinn, 2017). Early research on the benefits of mindfulness began mostly outside of sport, looking at the use of a mindfulness practice alongside traditional medical treatments (Kabat-Zinn, 1982). An approach to facilitate mindfulness, known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), was developed with a primary goal to help relieve the suffering and stress of patients not fully responding to traditional medical treatment. A goal of MBSR was to create a model for other hospitals to implement with patients. The reach of MBSR has now gone beyond hospitals, and variations of MBSR have been incorporated into the areas of education, business, the military, and sport (Kabat-Zinn, 2017). MBSR is an eight-week intervention that attempts to cultivate a greater ability to notice a patient’s inner and outer world (Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Santorelli, 1999). Sport-focused approaches to mindfulness have largely been adapted from this model.

Mindfulness as an approach to improving sport performance is a relatively recent development in the field of sport psychology compared to more traditional psychological skills interventions. While Kabat-Zinn and colleagues described the first known use of mindfulness with athletes in 1985, the 1990s showed little uptake in the use of mindfulness in sport. Beyond the early 2000s, however, research and use of mindfulness-based interventions in sport have grown substantially. Evidence now exists that supports a moderate improvement in sport performance for those athletes employing mindfulness techniques, and this is especially true in sport tasks based on precision such as shooting (Bühlmayer et al., 2017).

Mindfulness to enhance performance and wellbeing has been taught to athletes through two main interventions: Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment therapy (MAC) (Gardner & Moore, 2012) and Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) (Kaufman et al., 2009). Currently more robust evidence exists for the ability of MAC to improve performance, with research on MSPE being in its infancy.

Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment Therapy (MAC)

The MAC intervention was developed by Gardner and Moore (2004) and is influenced by Kabat-Zinn’s (1994) definition of mindfulness, combined with acceptance and commitment therapy approaches used in counselling psychology (Hayes et al., 1999). In MAC, mindful awareness is accompanied with acceptance of the current experience as it is, and commitment to value- or goal-driven behaviour (versus emotion-driven behaviour). The commitment component of the MAC approach requires a prior knowledge and understanding of the athlete’s values and goals, and of the behaviours that help their performance. Thus, self-awareness and knowledge of their sport is required to make full use of this approach in performance improvement.

In their rationale for the use of mindfulness to improve sport performance, Gardner and Moore (2004) acknowledged that although improvement can be detected in use of a mental skill (e.g., imagery, positive self-talk), most mental skills used in interventions with athletes show inconsistent results regarding performance improvement. They argued that this might be because of inaccurate assumptions regarding what leads to excellent performance. Traditional mental skills training focuses on control of internal states by managing thoughts, images, and emotions (Gardner & Moore, 2004; Moore, 2009). Moore (2009) argues that these control-based techniques are built on the assumption that there is an ‘ideal state’ that leads to excellent performance, and that an athlete must experience that ideal state in order to perform their best. Anecdotally, many athletes know this to be incorrect, at least some of the time, as many athletes can think of a time that they performed well while experiencing a host of negative emotions and sensations. Gardner and Moore (2012) argue that a mindful approach to sport performance is effective for maintaining or improving performance by increasing the proportion of thoughts or present-moment observations that are applicable to the task at hand.

There are seven modules in the MAC intervention that are completed in order, and a coach or leader must ensure athlete comprehension of each module before continuing (Gardner & Moore, 2007). Because of this focus on mastery of content, the length of the MAC intervention can vary, but it will last at least seven weeks.

Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE)

In contrast to MAC, the MSPE approach focuses less on values and value-driven behaviour, and more on the progressive practice of non-reactive attentional control (Kaufman et al., 2018). MSPE uses the terms concentration , letting go , relaxation , harmony, and rhythm , and forming key associations (finding personal cues that bring you back into the moment) to describe the focus of the approach. The progression of practice begins with quiet settings and watching the breath or scanning the body. Over the course of the intervention, athletes are encouraged to practice these skills at home and log their experiences for later discussion. An acronym used to integrate mindfulness into life outside of sport and the training sessions is STOP: stop, take a few breaths, observe, and proceed (Kaufman et al., 2018).

Mindfulness in sport takes a different approach to performance improvement when compared to traditional mental skills training. It can be used in conjunction with traditional mental skills as described earlier in this chapter. There is evidence of improvement in athlete performance, mental health, and wellbeing through the application of positive self-talk, imagery, goal setting, relaxation, or activation. As with any mental, physical, or social skill, proper and consistent practice is key to improvement and ease of use.

Neurofeedback and Biofeedback Training for Optimising Sport Performance

Psychophysiology is defined as ‘the scientific study of the interrelationships of physiological and cognitive processes’ (Schwartz & Olson, 2003, p. 5) and two types of psychophysiological interventions commonly utilised in sport are neurofeedback training (NFT) and biofeedback training (BFT). The training process involves the measurement of physiological or neurological activity that is then fed back to the athlete in real time in the form of audio or visual cues that enable the athlete to develop greater self-awareness and ability to voluntarily regulate physiological and neurological processes (Blumenstein & Hung, 2016; Schwartz & Andrasik, 2017).

Biofeedback Training

Biofeedback training equipment measures and feeds back physiological information associated with the stress response (e.g., heart rate, respiration rate and depth, heart rate variability, peripheral body temperature, and electrodermal activity) and has been identified as ‘one of the most powerful techniques for facilitating learning of arousal-regulation’ (Bar-Eli et al., 2002, p. 568). Fundamentally, when the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the body responds physiologically by increasing respiration rate, heart rate, electrodermal activity, and muscle tension, and by decreasing peripheral body temperature, in order to prepare the body to ‘ fight or flee’ the stressful situation (e.g., Filaire et al., 2009). During BFT athletes observe their physiological data on a computer screen and train the ability to actively alter the various responses. For example, if under stress an athlete tenses their muscles, they would be encouraged to observe the tension level and attempt to lower it.

Neurofeedback Training

Neurofeedback training – also known as electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback – involves the measurement of cortical activity (Schwartz & Andrasik, 2017). During NFT, electrodes are placed at specific locations on the surface of the scalp to measure minute electrical signals, which appear in five major frequencies: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma (Cacioppo et al., 2016). (For a comprehensive review of the relationship between cortical frequency and sport, see Cheron et al., 2016.) During NFT, relevant components of the athlete’s EEG are extracted and fed back in the form of audio and/or visual cues that indicate when they have met the predetermined threshold (Vernon, 2005). This feedback loop (generally considered operant conditioning) allows athletes to see their brainwaves visually, and based on reward contingent feedback, gives them the ability to progressively alter their brainwaves (Hammond, 2011; Schwartz & Andrasik, 2017). For example, sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) – a specific frequency within the low beta range that’s correlated with an alert but calm mental state (Thompson & Thompson, 2015) – has been shown to enhance golf putting performance in golfers (Cheng et al., 2015).

In summary, BFT/NFT helps athletes learn how to effectively self-regulate physiological arousal and focus in the competitive environment. Both have been shown to reduce anxiety (Gevirtz, 2007), improve attention (Gruzelier et al., 2006), develop self-efficacy (Davis & Sime, 2005), and ultimately enhance performance (e.g., Blumenstein & Hung, 2016; Mirifar et al., 2017; Morgan & Mora, 2017; Xiang et al., 2018).

Applications of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Sport psychology is still a relatively new and rapidly expanding field compared to other areas of psychological practice and research such as clinical, health, forensic, and counselling psychology. As a result of how psychologist registration is legislated in Australia, the graduate training pathways and career options that are available to those wanting to work in sport psychology are somewhat limited. There are basically two career streams within the discipline of sport psychology: research and professional practice. Although each is associated with somewhat different training paths, there’s considerable crossover between research and professional practice, as both undeniably inform one another. This section of the chapter will address both research and professional practice streams and highlight career and graduate training opportunities available in Australia.

The Profession of Sport and Exercise Psychology in Australia

To provide some context, it’s valuable to first situate the profession of sport and exercise psychology in Australia. The change to using sport AND exercise in this section is deliberate because in Australia the field is called sport and exercise psychology , which means researchers and psychologists need to demonstrate knowledge and competency of both sport and exercise contexts. From a professional practice standpoint, the APS College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists seeks to ensure that the highest possible standards of professional sport and exercise psychology practice and research are developed and upheld (Australian Psychological Society, 2021b). The College advises on the education and training requirements needed to provide high quality sport and exercise psychology services in Australia and is responsible for developing and setting standards for both practice and supervision.

To become a full member of the College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists, you need to have undertaken at least six years of university training in psychology. That includes an undergraduate degree in psychology and then a postgraduate degree in sport and exercise psychology. In the postgraduate degree, you’ll learn about the psychological factors that underpin sport and exercise performance, sports medicine and science, how to engage in culturally appropriate assessment of psychological aspects of sport and exercise performance using appropriate methodologies, and how to design and implement culturally appropriate sport and exercise psychological interventions (Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, 2019b). As with other areas of psychology, after graduating from the postgraduate degree, you’ll need to undertake a further two years of practice or hands-on experience in sport and exercise psychology settings before you’re eligible for full College membership (Australian Psychological Society 2021a). The College also offers student affiliate membership and provides professional development opportunities for all its members. All in all, the APS College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists is an important member group for those interested in pursuing a career and completing requisite training in the field of sport and exercise psychology in Australia.

In terms of being endorsed to practice as a sport and exercise psychologist, you first need to be registered as a generalist psychologist. In Australia, it’s Ahpra – or more specifically the Psychology Board of Australia or PsyBA – who oversees registration for psychologists. The Psychology Board of Australia looks after the registration of all Australia-based psychologists, including both generalists and those with endorsed areas of practice such as sport and exercise psychology. What this means is that to call yourself a sport and exercise psychologist you need to apply to the PsyBA for what’s called an area of practice endorsement (Psychology Board Australia, 2020b). To be endorsed you must undertake six years of university training – the same as what’s required for full membership of the APS College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists, except that after the sixth year, you then have to engage in a PsyBA approved registrar program. This means after graduating from a postgraduate program in sport and exercise psychology, you need to undertake a minimum of 3,000 hours of Board approved supervised practice, engage in 80 hours of supervision with a Board-approved supervisor, and undertake 80 hours of active professional development (Psychology Board Australia, 2020).

To gain a sport and exercise psychology area of practice endorsement you will have gained and demonstrated competency in eight areas (Psychology Board of Australia, 2020a).

Once endorsed, you’ll need to engage in continuing professional development in the above eight areas so you remain up-todate, and therefore competent to practice as a sport and exercise psychologist.

Sport and Exercise Psychology Careers and Training Pathways in Australia

Unlike Canada and the United States, the training of all psychologists in Australia – including sport psychologists – is governed by a central body called the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). The Australian Psychology Accreditation Council is an independent entity that has been tasked by the Federal Government with setting the educational and training standards that are required to become a psychologist. It accredits both undergraduate and postgraduate psychology degrees as having met APAC’s standards, which are developed in consultation with PsyBA, the APS and its various colleges such as the College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists and other key stakeholders (Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, 2019a).

Career Pathways

Careers in sport psychology typically involve two streams: research and/or professional practice as a sport and exercise psychologist. While many professionals train and work exclusively in one stream, some pursue both. For instance, Professor Peter Terry from the University of Southern Queensland has been actively engaged in this dual role for over 35 years. Professor Terry has been a sport psychologist at nine Olympic Games, attended over 100 international events supporting athletes, teams, and coaches, and has authored over 260 publications. This reinforces the research-practice orientation that has long underpinned the field of sport and exercise psychology in Australia (Morris, 2007).

Research-Focused Careers

In terms of research-focused careers, the most prominent option for those who’ve completed a doctoral degree in sport psychology is an academic position in a university (e.g., lecturer) in Australia or abroad. A typical academic position in most universities, regardless of where they’re located, involves teaching (e.g., lecturing, supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students), research (e.g., securing grants, preparing peer-reviewed publications), and service (e.g., serving on committees, performing administrative tasks) (Kenny & Fluck, 2019). Generally, the work expectation of an academic in most Australian universities is that 40 per cent of their time/effort will be spent on teaching, 40 per cent will be spent on conducting their own research, and 20 per cent will be dedicated to service activities (Miller, 2019).

There are limited sport psychology specific research-oriented careers outside of academia in Australia. However internationally such positions can be found within the sport domain to conduct research and program evaluations for organisations such as the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and the British Olympic Committee (BOA). Outside of sport, research positions have been offered within government departments (e.g., Department of Health) and healthcare organisations (e.g., Cancer Council Australia) to investigate, for example, the influence of parents on children’s activity levels, and the relationship between diet and physical activity in secondary students.

Careers in Professional Practice

There are three types of careers related to professional practice in sport and exercise psychology that depend on practitioners’ education and training. The first is a practitioner who hasn’t undergone university postgraduate sport and exercise psychology training, but who works with athletes and coaches on mental health issues. They would have some knowledge and competency in the sport context, and would either have generalist registration as a psychologist or an area of practice endorsement such as a clinical psychologist. The second is as a sport and exercise psychologist where the practitioner works only in the sport context. They may work on mental health and wellbeing issues, but much of their work would be on enhancing performance. Such full-time positions are limited in Australia and are usually associated with Institutes of Sport (e.g., the AIS). The third is where the sport and exercise psychologist works in both sport and non-sport contexts with athletes and non-athletes. The presenting issues would be a mixture of mental health, wellbeing and performance enhancement, but are more likely to be mental health and wellbeing focused. It’s important to note that in Australia, the only person who can call themselves a ‘sport and exercise psychologist’ is someone who Aphra has endorsed as being able to practice in the area of sport and exercise psychology, as explained in the previous chapter section. All the above three types of practitioners must be registered with Aphra, and must hold at minimum generalist registration. Specific course work/professional development and supervised practice or peer supervision in sport and exercise is a requirement no matter the educational background of the professional in order to ensure they’re practicing within their areas of training and competency.

The full-time sport and exercise psychologist role is what most students have in mind when working towards professional practice in the field of sport psychology. The goals of a sport and exercise psychologist are to teach, guide, and support individuals in their practice and development of psychosocial skills for optimal performance, day-to-day living, and wellbeing. Effective sport and exercise psychologists work in an interdisciplinary fashion and can provide services to a range of performers in diverse contexts in order to address specific sport/performance issues, as well as more general psychological mental health and wellbeing affecting daily functioning in life. This is possible because in Australia, regardless of their specialisation, all psychologists are trained to be generalist psychologists first and specialists second. This means all registered psychologists have base level knowledge and skills in psychological mental health and wellbeing.

Those pursuing careers as registered psychologists (general or in a particular area of endorsement) may choose to apply their work in the context of sport, and complete additional training in sport sciences to fully understand and navigate the competitive sport environment. While these practitioners may consult on sport performance concerns, they may focus more on the diagnosis and treatment of clinical symptoms and mental disorders such as addictions, eating disorders, and depression. Registered psychologists must always work within the limits of their competency, and it’s not unusual for a sport and exercise psychologist to work in unison with a clinical psychologist to determine athletes and coaches’ needs and to develop mental health care plans while respecting their performance goals and sport culture. Working collaboratively with other mental health practitioners, as well as other sport science professionals will arguably lead to better experiences and outcomes.

A career as a sport and exercise psychologist is dynamic and multifaceted. Given the developing nature of the field of sport psychology, many professionals take on a mixture of full- and part-time contracts with sport organisations, teams, and individual clients, as well as multi-roles that combine administrative duties with mental health and wellbeing consulting. Practitioners endeavouring to develop and sustain a private practice can benefit from additional know-how in business management, finance, and marketing. Unfortunately, because these topics are absent from APACs Accreditation Standards for Psychology Programs, they’re not considered to be requisite core knowledge and competencies, and are therefore not covered in most postgraduate training programs (Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, 2019b).

Practitioners also work in various related, but non-sport-specific fields to provide performance consulting in domains such as healthcare, education, and the workplace. Some adopt multiple roles by combining academic and leadership/management positions with their own sport psychology practice. For example, some people have concurrently worked as a sport and exercise psychologist, adjunct lecturer, and sport centre director.

Other career options for those who’ve studied sport psychology include sport-related roles such as Athlete Career and Education Advisors or Athlete Engagement and Wellbeing Advisors with representative bodies like the AFL Players Association or sport institutes like the West Australian Institute of Sport. Moreover, training in this field is highly relevant for intervention, consultation, and program development in professions pertaining to health, education, and high-risk occupations (e.g., military personnel, firefighters, the police, paramedics). Examples of such careers include: (a) counselling within Australian university student services centres to support students’ academic success, (b) providing mental health promotion services to enhance the morale, welfare, and operational readiness of military personnel, and (c) providing resilience training in hospitals to help children and families cope with cancer.

Educational Paths and Training

Although research and professional practice career paths in sport psychology intersect, the training requirements to successfully pursue these careers tend to be more distinctly delineated. One study showed that graduate students in this area often feel they can’t gain the ‘best of both worlds’ by completing a single educational program, and thus make an explicit choice between pursuing an academic research position and professional practice (Fitzpatrick et al., 2016). As such, those who want to combine both aspects in their work may need to seek additional training opportunities outside of their program requirements.

Training for Research

Research careers related to sport psychology – whether in post-secondary institutions or outside of academia (e.g., in the public sector) – typically require graduate research training acquired in a doctoral (i.e., PhD) degree. Faculty academic members at Australian universities normally hold a doctoral degree in their field of study, however given the competitive nature of the field, it’s not uncommon to pursue postdoctoral training (e.g., a postdoctoral fellowship) to obtain an academic position. Those who conduct research outside of higher education (e.g., in industry or the public sector) often acquire the research competencies necessary for their roles by completing a master’s degree, although a doctoral degree is often required for more senior research positions (e.g., Research Fellow).

Australia has a history of vibrant scholarship in sport psychology, however changes over the past last 10–15 years with the introduction of psychology Medicare items has seen the reduction of high-quality graduate programs in the field. Therefore, the opportunities for students who want to acquire research training in sport psychology has become limited. The University of Queensland is the only remaining public university to offer a postgraduate psychologist training program in which one can specialise in sport psychology. This program is housed within both the Psychology and Human Movement Schools and offers students the possibility to study psychological aspects of sport with academic staff who conduct research in sport psychology. A postgraduate degree in psychology (e.g., organisational, clinical, health) with a research focus on sport is another pathway to an academic or research career in the field, however, coursework and training in sport psychology is limited to postgraduate sport and exercise psychology postgraduate programs.

While the discipline may be contracting, research training opportunities for students in Australia aren’t necessarily limited. Students can specialise in sport psychology research at any Australian university provided there are supervisors who have research expertise in sport psychology to supervise them. The University of Southern Queensland, the University of Queensland, and the University of Adelaide have staff in Psychology or Human Movement Schools with expertise to supervise PhD students.

Given the diversification of the field of sport psychology and its interdisciplinary nature, research within doctoral programs may focus on a variety of topics, depending on the interests of thesis supervisors. Examples include psychological skills training, life skills development, concussion management, injury rehabilitation, mental health and wellbeing, motivation and emotion, leadership and group dynamics, physical activity promotion, and suicidality. These topics can be researched within different contexts in (e.g., youth, elite, disability sport) and outside of sport (e.g., business, performing arts, the military, medicine).

In Australia, students who pursue thesis-based research degrees such as a PhD won’t be exposed to coursework related to sport psychology. The only doctoral level coursework-thesis based graduate program is the Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) degree from the Institute for Social Neuroscience Psychology in Melbourne, Victoria. Thesis-based programs involve completing a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation where students conduct research in order to make new contributions to the sport psychology literature. Master’s degrees generally require two years of full-time study, while doctoral degrees typically span three years or more. However, students are encouraged to consult the specific requirements of the programs they’re interested in and should take note of any additional research training that may be required to achieve their career goals.

Training for Professional Practice

As noted previously, graduate programs preparing students for professional practice are as limited as they are in other countries such as Canada. That said, besides the previously mentioned doctoral program, two Australian programs are geared toward applied careers in the field and provide students with the opportunity to combine research training with applied consulting work and supervision. These are the Master of Psychology (Sport & Exercise) from the Institute for Social Neuroscience Psychology, and the Master of Psychology (Sport and Exercise) from the University of Queensland. Students in both programs are required to complete coursework and a research thesis.

What’s unique about the Australian training pathway is that it doesn’t matter what type of master’s degree a student studies – half of the courses that students study focus on generic clinical knowledge and half of the placement hours are completed in clinical contexts that focus on ensuring students develop generic psychological skills. This leaves the other half of the courses and placement hours devoted to specialist study. The Institute of Social Neuroscience Psychology offers a unique Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) which produces graduates who not only complete a thesis – and thus are engaged in research – but on graduation are eligible for the PsyBA registrar program in both sport and exercise psychology and clinical psychology areas of endorsement. Students wanting to pursue a career as a sport and exercise psychologist need to  examine the professional membership requirements of the APS College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists and PsyBA requirements for areas of practice endorsement to help guide their training decisions, as programs and training requirements can and do change.

The general criteria for generalist registration in Australia from June 2022 will be six years of psychology training that includes master’s level postgraduate training. While formal opportunities to study sport psychology are limited, some academic staff conduct research in the field of sport psychology in Schools that offer clinical psychology training in Australia (e.g., University of Adelaide, University of Southern Queensland). Thus, while these programs don’t offer specialised postgraduate training in sport psychology, students could potentially pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology while conducting research on topics in sport psychology (e.g., motivation, coping, suicidality, and sport participation) or engage in a sport-focused placement as part of their supervised practice hours.

In summary, there are several careers and training paths available to anyone wanting to specialise and work in the field of sport psychology in Australia. Both research and professional practice are meaningful endeavours to pursue, and a combination of these two options is often an ideal choice for those seeking to play multiple roles. Australia is home to two sport psychology graduate programs directed by world-leading scholars and practitioners. Students may be successful in accessing one of these educational programs that meets their personal needs and interests. They equally have the option to complete additional training to meet the requirements of research and/or professional practice organisations that will open doors for future employment.

This chapter has been adapted by Andrea Lamont-Mills, School of Psychology and Counselling, University of Southern Queensland. It has been adapted from Dithurbide, L., DesClouds, P., McNeill, K., Durand-Bush, N., DeRoo, C., & Christie, S. (2019). Sport psychology. In M. E. Norris (Ed.), The Canadian Handbook for Careers in Psychological Science . Kingston, ON: eCampus Ontario. Licensed under CC BY NC 4.0. Retrieved from  https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/psychologycareers/chapter/sport-psychology/

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Please reference this chapter as:

Lamont-Mills, A. (2022). Sport psychology. In T. Machin, T. Machin, C. Jeffries & N. Hoare (Eds.), The Australian handbook for careers in psychological science . University of Southern Queensland. https://usq.pressbooks.pub/psychologycareers/chapter/sport-psychology/

The Australian Handbook for Careers in Psychological Science Copyright © 2022 by Andrea Lamont-Mills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology (PSYC90108)

Graduate coursework Points: 12.5 Online

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All students will complete a foundation module Sport Psychology Unpacked. This subject is introduced and underpinned by considering the complementary roles, responsibilities and expertise of professionals within the interdisciplinary team to address sport psychology issues in sports medicine. Students evaluate their own skills and behaviours, and recognise the influence of their approach on athletes/clients, supporting personnel and outcomes. Areas of knowledge addressed include theory of communication and learning; biopsychosocial aspects of sports & exercise medicine; sport psychology for performance; sociology of sport, FairPlay and health behaviour change.

Students then select 2 from 3 Practice in Context Modules within which to integrate and apply this knowledge in clinical case scenarios focussing on Sport Psychology elements. There is emphasis on using appropriate methods of ethical reasoning to arrive at balanced judgements and actions where complex and/or conflicting issues are involved.

  • Sport Psychology in Performance Sport: This module explores psychological aspects of motivation, arousal, performance and lifestyle management of high performance athletes; juxtaposed with psychological aspects of injury, failure and retirement in sport.
  • Exercise, Health & Behaviour Change – This module explores the psychological and social factors than may influence an individual’s ability to exercise or impact on athletic performance. Approaches and interventions to facilitate behaviour change are developed in case-context scenarios.
  • Mental Health Conditions in Sports Medicine: This module explores prevalent population mental health issues and conditions in the context of sports medicine. Examples include: eating disorders; depression and anxiety; fear avoidance.The final Integration, Contribution & Reflection Module provides opportunity to collaborate and critically discuss balanced judgements in management of psychological elements in different case contexts. Experts and students will engage in self-reflection on their role, behaviour and communication skills within their professional context, and also the biopsychosocial elements of Sports Medicine practice. This module also provides the forum for the assessment task “Evidence & Innovation Presentation – Sociology of Sport & Behaviour Change” in the form of an online presentation.

Intended learning outcomes

The curriculum is designed around three elements that provide integration throughout the program.

These elements are:

Sports Medicine Theory & Practice:

  • Critically discuss motor learning, selective attention and information processing theories and models
  • Critically appraise the roles & responsibilities of the interdisciplinary team with regard to Sports Psychology aspects of Sports Medicine; including scope of practice, team composition, group dynamics, group/team psychology
  • Critically discuss Sports Psychology approaches in Sports Medicine; including assessment, counselling, motivation, arousal & performance, lifestyle management.

Clinical Practice in Context:

  • Integrate and validate biopsychosocial aspects of Sports Medicine within own professional management of athletes and clients in different contexts
  • Critically reflect on various approaches to optimise one's own communication skills to provide an environment for clear, unambiguous, & effective communication; including atmosphere, styles, tools, language, audience and minimising barriers.
  • Recognise potential population mental health conditions in the Sports Medicine context and affect intervention including appropriate referral and own contribution to nurture within scope of practice context

Evidence & Innovation:

  • Critically discuss issues relating to sociology of sport, including evidence based and innovative interventions
  • Apply evidence relating to sustained behaviour change within relevant Sports Medicine contexts; such as sedentary and active living; athlete lifestyle and performance; sociology of sport and FairPlay

Last updated: 3 November 2022

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What do sports psychologists do

What do sports psychologists do?

Careers Published 3 Jun, 2024  ·  5-minute read

Imagine a career where you get to help athletes soar to new heights – both physically and mentally. That's the world of sports psychology.

In Australia, where sport is a big part of life for many, sports psychologists play a crucial role. They team up with athletes to boost motivation, improve performance, and strengthen team bonds.

We recently spoke with Leilanie Pakoa and Tama Barry, graduates of the UQ Master of Psychology (Sport and Exercise Psychology) program, to learn more about their careers and explore what sports psychologists do. Leilanie focuses on guiding young athletes through challenges, while Tama excels in helping athletes reach their peak performance.

If you're intrigued by the human mind, passionate about sports, and love the idea of helping others succeed, this could be the career path for you.

Sports psychologist Leilanie Pakoa

Throughout history, sport has broken down barriers and brought people together. I want to be part of a profession that challenges the status quo and pushes boundaries to create positive change.

What does a sports psychologist do?

Sports psychology is a specialised field within psychology that delves into how psychological factors influence athletic performance and engagement in sports. Sports psychologists are adept at understanding how an individual's thoughts, emotions and actions shape their athletic abilities.

You can think of a sports psychologist as a dedicated mental coach, always in your corner, offering support to maintain focus and overcome the mental hurdles that can emerge during games or competitions.

Sports psychologists can operate in a variety of capacities, including:

  • teaching specialised mental techniques like visualisation and positive self-talk to improve athletes' performance
  • helping athletes deal with unique pressures, like anxiety and motivation challenges, and mentally prepare for competitions
  • understanding the social and personal factors impacting athletes, providing tailored support along their journey
  • conducting sessions with individuals or teams, including performance consultations, workshops, and educational interventions
  • supporting athletes in coping with the physical and emotional effects of injuries.

Leilanie works as a sports psychologist in 3 private practice clinics, where she helps clients of different ages and backgrounds, from children with diverse needs to individuals facing eating disorders.

Sports psychologist explaining a flowchart

In these clinics, Leilanie's main goal is to identify challenges and build skills to improve performance and wellbeing.

"I focus on finding problems and coming up with ways to make people perform better and feel better," she says.

"I love helping young people as they deal with the ups and downs of sports environments."

“I feel incredibly privileged that people choose to share their lives with me and that I love what I do every day.”

Where do sports psychologists work?

Sports psychologists play a vital role in enhancing athletic performance and promoting mental wellbeing in diverse settings. Whether collaborating with professional sports teams, providing individualised support in private practices, or contributing to national or international sports organisations, their impact is profound.

UQ graduate Tama is deeply immersed in high-performance sports through his roles at the Queensland Academy of Sport and in private practice.

At the Queensland Academy of Sport, he works closely with elite athletes, guiding them through daily performance routines, preparing them mentally for competitions, and providing support in clinical settings.

"My days involve consulting with athletes, meeting coaches, and attending training sessions," says Tama.

"Being part of their journey brings me immense fulfilment."

In private practice, Tama thrives in a supportive community, constantly innovating approaches to aid his clients.

"The blend of peer collaboration and formal supervision fuels my motivation," he says.

Tama Barry

It's all about helping people unlock their full potential. Seeing individuals confidently embrace life's challenges is incredibly rewarding, and I feel privileged to be part of that journey.

Beyond sports, sports psychologists extend their expertise to clinical environments, aiding athletes recovering from injuries or managing mental health challenges. They also work in medical centres, hospitals, and rehabilitation settings.

Their insights are also increasingly valued in non-athletic settings like the military and corporations, where their understanding of elite performance helps individuals and teams thrive under pressure.

Why choose a career in sports psychology?

Leilanie and Tama believe that sports psychology offers an exciting and diverse career path for those who love both psychology and sports.

"For me, it's all about helping people unlock their full potential," says Tama.

"Seeing individuals confidently embrace life's challenges is incredibly rewarding, and I feel privileged to be part of that journey."

Leilanie suggests that if you're ready for a career where every day brings new challenges and opportunities for growth, sports psychology might be the perfect fit for you.

"Throughout history, sport has broken down barriers and brought people together," she says.

"I want to be part of a profession that challenges the status quo and pushes boundaries to create positive change."

Benefits of a career in sports psychology

  • Collaboration : Sports psychologists often work as part of a team, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment.
  • Diverse opportunities : There are various career paths and specialisation options, including teaching, youth sports, and professional athletics training.
  • Dynamic profession : Sports psychology offers a stimulating and dynamic career, where no 2 days are the same.
  • Fulfilment : Few careers offer the level of satisfaction that comes from helping clients achieve their goals and thrive in their sports.
  • Increasing demand : With the growing recognition of mental health in sports, there is a rising demand for qualified sports psychologists, providing ample job opportunities.

How much do sports psychologists make in Australia?

According to Glassdoor , the average sport psychologist salary is $97,000 in Australia. However, there are many factors that influence how much you can earn as a sports psychologist, including your years of experience, professional skills, and whether you work in a government role or in private practice.

Advice for future sports psychologists

Leilanie suggests that aspiring sports psychologists should approach their studies with an open mind.

"Be ready to be challenged, to question your beliefs, to receive feedback, and to embrace self-reflection," she says.

"These experiences will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and build confidence in working with diverse clients."

She also emphasises the importance of staying connected throughout the journey.

"Psychology can sometimes feel isolating, especially in private practice," she says.

"That's why it's crucial to build connections with supervisors, peers, colleagues, and other professionals."

"Don't forget to make time for your peers and nurture those connections."

Leilanie also highlights the patience required in pursuing this career path.

"Becoming a qualified psychologist is a long journey, and it may take longer than you expect; when I started my journey at UQ, I never imagined it would take me 9 years to achieve my goal of becoming a sport psychologist," she says.

"But let me tell you, it's worth every moment!"

How to become a sports psychologist

In Australia, becoming a registered sports psychologist typically involves completing an accredited 4-year psychology degree and a postgraduate degree in the specialist area of sports psychology.

At UQ, you have the opportunity to study undergraduate psychology through a:

  • Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Arts  (psychology major)
  • Bachelor of Science  (psychology major).

From there, most aspiring sports psychologists pursue a Master of Psychology ( Sport and Exercise Psychology ) in order to gain professional registration as a sports psychologist. This program delves deeper into the theoretical and applied aspects of sports psychology, providing specialised training and supervised clinical experience.

Explore UQ's Master of Psychology (Sport and Exercise Psychology)

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Where do you train to become a sports psychologist.

  • December 22, 2023

sport psychology phd australia

Mr. Max von Sabler

sport psychology phd australia

Introduction to Where Do You Train to Become a Sports Psychologist

Imagine a career where your expertise helps athletes soar to new heights, not just physically but mentally. This is the realm of a sports psychologist. In Australia, where sports are the heartbeat of the community, the role of sports psychologists is becoming ever more crucial. This guide dives into what it takes to embark on this exciting career path, blending the love for sports with the science of psychology.

Exploring the Role of a Sports Psychologist

Key responsibilities and impact on athletic performance.

A sports psychologist isn’t just a counsellor; they are a crucial part of an athlete’s journey to excellence. Picture being the guiding force that helps athletes overcome mental barriers, enhance their sports performance, and achieve their highest potential. From working with individual athletes to advising sports teams, the role is as varied as it is impactful.

Differentiating Between Sport Psychologists and Other Psychological Specializations

Sport psychology stands unique in the psychology field. Unlike general psychologists who deal with a broad range of issues, sports psychologists specialize in the mental and emotional aspects specific to athletic performance . Their focus is not just on mental health, but on optimizing performance, understanding team dynamics, and enhancing motivation and endurance.

Essential Educational Pathways for Aspiring Sport Psychologists

Undergraduate degrees and foundation courses in sport psychology.

Embarking on this career starts with a solid educational foundation. Prospective sports psychologists often begin with an undergraduate degree in psychology. This is where you learn the principles of psychology, laying the groundwork for specialization in sports psychology. Australian universities offer specific courses in sport and exercise psychology, tailored to those who wish to merge their passion for sports with their interest in psychology.

Specialized Training: Education and Experience to Become a Sports Psychologist

Aspiring sports psychologists often wonder – where exactly does one train to enter this profession? In Australia, future sports psychologists can gain qualifications through university programs, specialising in areas of psychology connected to sports. Leading institutions like the Australian Institute of Sport offer advanced degree pathways focused explicitly on performance psychology and translating theory into practice.

These academic offerings are complemented by immersive practical training. Opportunities for hands-on learning exist through nationwide sports organizations, athlete development initiatives, and performance workshops. By interning under veteran mentors in real sporting contexts, emerging professionals learn how to optimize mindsets and maximize athletic achievement.

This combined education and applied exposure equips trainees with the licenses and proficiency to advise coaches, enhance team dynamics, and boost player motivation – the hallmarks of a successful sports psychologist.

sport psychology phd australia

Specialized Education and Hands-On Training to Become a Sports Psychologist

Transitioning from psychology basics to specialized sports and performance psychology requires advanced academic training. In Australia, aspiring sports psychology career professionals can pursue graduate degrees like a Master of Psychology , concentrating in the area of sport and exercise psychology. These programs deliver in-depth knowledge tailored specifically to the sports domain.

Equally vital is gaining real-world experience. Internships provide critical practical training under the guidance of professional sports and exercise psychologists. By working directly with athletes and sports teams, prospective Australia-registered sports psychologists develop first-hand skills for the job. They learn how to become successful by actually working with a sports talent, whether it’s addressing performance issues or boosting motivation.

This combination of higher sport psychology study and supervised field experience produces competent practitioners ready for endorsement in sport and exercise psychology. It enables them to effectively apply psychological principles and specialized sports expertise when assisting high-performing athletes as licensed clinical sports psychologists.

The Role of Institutes of Sport in Training Sport Psychologists

In Australia, institutes like the Australian Institute of Sport play a pivotal role in training sports psychologists. These institutions offer not only educational opportunities but also a platform to work alongside professional athletes and sports teams. This experience is invaluable, offering insights into the high-performance sports environment.

Licensing and Accreditation for Sport Psychologists in Australia

Navigating the psychology board of australia’s requirements.

In Australia, the journey to becoming a registered sports psychologist involves navigating the requirements set by the Psychology Board of Australia . This crucial step ensures that practitioners meet the high standards of professional practice. To gain endorsement from the psychology board, candidates must complete accredited education, like a graduate diploma in psychology, and fulfil specific training periods in sports psychology. This process solidifies their status as qualified professionals in the field.

Pathways to Becoming a Registered Sports Psychologist

Achieving registration as a psychologist in Australia, particularly in the sports and exercise field, demands both academic rigour and practical experience. Candidates must undertake extensive training in sport psychology, often culminating in a Doctor of Psychology degree . Following this, provisional registration as a psychologist is a stepping stone to full registration. This path ensures that sports psychologists are well-equipped to handle the unique challenges of working within the sports industry.

Career Opportunities in Sport Psychology

Working with professional sports teams and athletes.

For sports psychologists, the opportunity to work with professional sports teams and elite athletes is often a career highlight. In these roles, psychologists apply their expertise in sports and performance psychology to enhance athletes’ mental resilience and performance. They become integral members of the sports medicine team, collaborating with coaches, physiotherapists, and other specialists.

The Diversity of Career Paths within Sport and Exercise Psychology

The field of sports psychology is diverse, offering various career paths. From working in sports psychology jobs within educational institutions to private practice, the opportunities are vast. Some sports psychologists specialize in areas such as clinical sports psychology, while others may focus on research or teaching. The demand for sports psychologists in Australia and globally reflects the growing recognition of mental health’s role in athletic performance.

sport psychology phd australia

Specialized Training for Performance Psychologists

Advanced programs and certifications in applied sport psychology.

For those aiming to specialize in sports psychology, advanced programs and certifications are available. These programs, often offered by universities and professional bodies like the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council , provide in-depth training in applied sports psychology. They cover a range of topics, from the psychological principles of performance enhancement to the management of issues specific to athletes and sports teams.

Developing Expertise in Athlete Performance and Well-being

Performance psychologists play a pivotal role in supporting athletes’ mental well-being and performance. To excel in this area, practitioners need a deep understanding of sport and exercise psychology, underpinned by a solid foundation in general psychology. Developing this expertise involves continuous learning and practical application, enabling psychologists to effectively address the mental challenges athletes face.

The Evolving Field of Sport Psychology in Australia

Recent trends and developments in australian sport psychology.

In recent years, Australia has seen significant advancements in sports and performance psychology. As sports evolve, so does the role of the sports psychologist, adapting to new challenges and discoveries. This evolution is evident in the increased emphasis on mental health in sports, the integration of sports science, and the expanding scope of practice for sport and exercise psychologists. Psychology in Australia, particularly in sports, is becoming increasingly sophisticated, reflecting a deeper understanding of psychology and human behaviour in athletic contexts.

The Impact of Sport Science and Medicine on Sport Psychology

Sports science and sports medicine have become integral to the field of sport psychology. This synergy has led to a more holistic approach to athlete care, where physical and mental well-being are seen as interconnected. Sports psychologists work alongside sports medicine professionals, contributing their expertise in mental health to support athletes’ overall performance and well-being. This collaboration highlights the need for a comprehensive understanding of both clinical and sport psychology.

The Journey to Becoming a Sports Psychologist

Necessary steps and training period for aspiring psychologists.

The journey to becoming a sports psychologist involves several crucial steps. After completing a degree in sports psychology or a related field, aspiring psychologists typically undergo a period of practical training. This training period is essential for gaining real-world experience and developing the skills necessary to work with athletes effectively. It’s a time for potential sports psychologists to apply their knowledge in practical settings, under the supervision of experienced professionals.

Gaining Endorsement from the Psychology Board and Further Specialization

To practice as a registered psychologist in Australia, one must gain endorsement from the Psychology Board of Australia. This process often involves additional training and specialization in areas such as sports and exercise psychology. Aspiring sports psychologists pursue this specialization to become endorsed psychologists, which allows them to work officially in the sports industry, addressing the unique mental health needs of athletes.

Practical Advice for Aspiring Sport Psychologists

Frequently asked questions about pursuing a career in sport psychology.

Many aspiring sports psychologists have questions about this career path. These include queries about the education required, the practical experience needed, and the pathways to registration as a practising psychologist. Other common questions revolve around the psychologist’s role in sports contexts, the types of sports psychology available, and how a psychologist can help athletes improve their performance.

Tips for Success and Continuous Development in the Field

For those looking to pursue a career as a sports psychologist, success comes from a blend of education, practical experience, and a passion for sports. Understanding the principles of psychology, staying updated with trends in sports psychology, and developing effective communication skills are key. Additionally, networking with professionals in the field, joining associations of sports psychology, and continuously seeking opportunities for professional development are crucial steps towards a successful career in this dynamic field.

In conclusion, the path to becoming a sports psychologist in Australia is both challenging and rewarding. It requires a deep understanding of psychology and sport, a commitment to continuous learning, and a genuine desire to help athletes achieve their best. For those with a passion for sports and a dedication to understanding the human mind, a career in sports psychology offers a fulfilling opportunity to make a significant impact in the world of sports.

Ready to start your journey towards better mental health? Reach out today! Fill out the contact form below to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced psychologists. We're here to support you every step of the way.

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A child psychologist specializes in evaluating and treating the behavioural health of children and adolescents. Learn more about their important role here.

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Sports Psychology

Undergraduate | SWI-PSY20005 | 2023

Course information for 2023 intake Learn more about course intake

Kick off your studies of some of the key psychology issues at play in sport. Try out analytical tools including personality profiling and performance measures. Run through the relationships sport has with aggression, motivation and anxiety.

HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP available Learn more about financial options

About this subject

What you'll learn.

Students who successfully complete this subject will be able to:

  • Determine the most appropriate application of analytic tools (e.g. personality profiling, performance measures, training regimes) and relevant psychological theories to problems in sport psychology;
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the literature relevant to sport psychology and be able to critically evaluate research;
  • Analyse and appraise ethical issues in sport psychology;
  • Write in a clear scientific manner for a variety of audiences (e.g. peers, professionals, researchers, clients).

Topics covered

  • Personality and sport
  • Attitudes to sport
  • Social factors affecting performance
  • Arousal and anxiety
  • Motivation and skill acquisition

Description

The aim of this subject is to provide a theoretical introduction to sports psychology. Key psychological issues in sport, such as the relationship between personality and sport, aggression and anxiety, are explored. The subject content, readings and online activities will give students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of sports psychology.

Assessments

Please note: assessment values are indicative only, details will be advised at the start of the subject.

  • Assignment — Written (50%)
  • Invigilated exam (30%)
  • Reading — Reading Log (20%)

For textbook details check your university's handbook, website or learning management system (LMS).

About Swinburne University of Technology

Swinburne University of Technology leads the way with innovative and new ways of teaching, learning and thinking. It offers a wide range of study options, from pre-apprenticeships, undergraduate, postgraduate and PhDs, including online degrees with Open Universities Australia. Swinburne is known for career-oriented education and encouraging lifelong learning.

Learn more about Swinburne .

Explore Swinburne courses .

Entry requirements

Prior study.

You must have successfully completed the following subject(s) before starting this subject:

SWI-STA10003 - Foundations of Statistics (no longer available)

SWI-STA102 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSY10003 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSS110 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSY10007 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSY10004 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSS120 (Not currently available)

SWI-PSY10008 (Not currently available)

Equivalent subjects

You should not enrol in this subject if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

SWI-PSS260 (Not currently available)

Additional requirements

No additional requirements

Equivalent full time study load (EFTSL) is one way to calculate your study load. One (1.0) EFTSL is equivalent to a full-time study load for one year.

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Single subject FAQs

Single subjects are the individual components that make up a degree. With Open Universities Australia, you’re able to study many of them as stand-alone subjects , including postgraduate single subjects , without having to commit to a degree.

Each of your subjects will be held over the course of a study term, and they’ll usually require 10 to 12 hours of study each week. Subjects are identified by a title and a code, for example, Developmental Psychology, PSY20007.

First, find the degree that you would like to study on our website.

If that degree allows entry via undergraduate subjects, there will be information about this under the Entry Requirements section. You will find a list of 2-4 open enrolment subjects you need to successfully complete to qualify for admission into that qualification.

Once you pass those subjects, you will satisfy the academic requirements for the degree, and you can apply for entry.

Our student advisors are here to help you take that next step, so don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready! We’ve also made it easier to figure out the right way to get started on our pathways page .

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Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. and Anne Lippert, PhD

Sport and Competition

Sports psychology: mind and body, sports psychology emphasizes the mind and body for athletic success..

Posted January 1, 2017 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

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Over the years, an increasing number of students have asked me about becoming a sports psychologist. Students understand that our society loves sports, and (for better or worse) this love of sports means there is a need for psychologists to help those involved in athletics.

With the above in mind, you should first understand that sports psychology is really an interdisciplinary science. Besides psychology, it is also concerned with disciplines such as biomechanics, physiology, and kinesiology. As a definition, the American Psychological Association’s Division 47 (Society of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology) states the following:

Sport Psychology addresses the interactions between psychology and sport performance, including the psychological aspects of optimal athletic performance, the psychological care and well-being of athletes, coaches, and sport organizations, and the connection between physical and psychological functioning.

Based on this definition, sports psychologists can participate in various activities, mostly focused on working to understand what motivates athletes and how athletes can improve their performance. These activities can range from counseling athletes who might have anxiety issues that hamper their performance to instructing athletes (individually or in groups) on methods of mental conditioning (e.g., visualization , concentration , and relaxation) to helping athletes deal with injuries.

To put all of this in another way, a sport psychologist is working from the perspective that success in sports relies on both the body and mind. To add one other important point, sports psychologists are often found working with elite athletes—Olympians and professionals. However, sports psychologists can be found working with athletes at all levels as well as with coaches and sports administrators.

All of the above may really appeal to you, but then the question is, how do you become a sports psychologist? It all begins with an undergraduate degree. This degree is typically in Psychology. However, there are an increasing number of colleges that offer an undergraduate Sports Psychology major — check out the Association for Applied Sports Psychology for information. This major combines courses in Psychology with those in Physical Education /Kinesiology. Finally, if you want to become a sports psychologist, it is possible to start with a degree in Physical Education/Kinesiology.

It would be nice if you could use your undergraduate degree and get a job as a sports psychologist, but this is simply not the case. Most individuals who want a career in sports psychology must earn an advanced degree. This advanced degree can be from a designated Sports Psychology Master’s or doctoral program. It may also be the case that you can earn your graduate degree in a clinical or counseling doctoral program, and then take additional classes in kinesiology, physiology, sports medicine, business and marketing . Remember that a Master’s degree can take two to three years and completing your doctoral degree may take as long as six years.

There are a few other important points to make about getting a graduate degree in sports psychology or a related Psychology area. First, every graduate program has unique requirements. Before you jump into applying to a program, make sure you have done your homework and thoroughly checked out the program.

Second, if you plan on getting a doctoral degree it is likely the case that you will be required to complete a one-year internship where you will get additional training in an applied setting. For more info about a graduate degree in sports psychology click here .

Third, it is always to your benefit to stick with graduate programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association. For example, certain jobs require that you were trained at an accredited school.

Fourth, it is to your benefit to be certified as a sports psychologist by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Fifth, if you complete a counseling or clinical program you will almost surely apply for licensure. You will need to meet your state’s educational and training requirements and passed a comprehensive exam. Being licensed is very important, not only to be able to work with clients and be employed in various position, but also because only when you are licensed can you legally call yourself a “psychologist”.

sport psychology phd australia

Upon receiving your graduate degree, you will see there are a lot of options for you as far as jobs. These include being a faculty member at university where you would teach and conduct research. You could work at a hospital, physical rehabilitation center, or gym. There are job possibilities with the military, given their concern with keeping troops mentally fit for battle.

Finally, you might decide to open your own practice, where you can work with individual athletes and/or teams. Your private practice might even lead to working with individuals you might not typically think of as athletes. This could include dancers or even those in the business world who may be dealing with high-pressure jobs. As far as what you will earn in a job, collegeatlas.com lists the mean salary for a sports psychologist at $57,000. However, I have seen higher estimates elsewhere.

I hope this information helps you think about another career option related to Psychology. Good luck!

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

Check out our website for helpful information on pursuing a psychology-related career , visit Dr. Golding's blog to get advice on how to succeed in college, and find us on Instagram , Facebook , and Twitter .

Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. and Anne Lippert, PhD

Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. , is a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky. Anne Lippert, Ph.D. , is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky.

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  • Careers Guide

How To Become A Sports Psychologist In Australia?

  By OzStudies Editorial Team

Last Updated: 24 Mar 23

Students want to know how to become sports psychologists in Australia.

Do you have a passion for sports and like assisting athletes and teams in improving their performance? If yes, a career in sports psychology can be rewarding.

Sports Psychologists are registered practitioners who have an expert understanding of psychology impacting the performance of athletes. They use their physiology and psychology knowledge to address the needs of  individual athletes , teams, and coaches.

Aspiring sports psychologists must earn a master's qualification or Doctorate in Sports Psychology. Also, gaining an endorsement in Sport and Exercise Psychology by the Psychology Board of Australia to work as a registered sports psychologist is necessary.

This blog will teach you who sports psychologists are, what they do, what they study, degrees, courses, qualifications, how much salary they earn, and what it takes to become one in Australia.

1. What Is Sports Psychology?

Sports psychology is a speciality that combines an in-depth understanding of human behaviour and  psychology  through a sport-focused lens. It focuses on strengthening physiological, technical, and psychological training.

It uses  psychological principles  and skills to address the developmental and social aspects of sports, issues with sports organizations and settings, and the well-being and performance of athletes.

2. What Is A Sports Psychologist?

Sports Psychologists specialize in assisting athletes and other professional competitors excelling in their sports profession. They use psychological skills to help them overcome emotional and mental issues that may impact their sports performance.

Psychologists, trainers, and consultants teach techniques to improve concentration, enhance performance, manage adrenaline, cope with defeat, overcome frustration and anxiety and help injured athletes through rehabilitation.

Besides athlete performance improvement, sports psychologists also focus on physical and psychological well-being and address the social impact of sports participation on athletes.

Sports psychologists can specialize in becoming licensed clinical sports psychologists to diagnose and treat psychological conditions or educational sports psychologists to offer advisory services.

3. What Techniques Do Sports Psychologists Employ?

Sports psychologists often help athletes to work through numerous challenging situations, such as grief, eating disorders, anxiety, sleeping issues, depression, addictions, career transitions, and rehabilitation from injury.

They employ a wide range of mind-body techniques for mental and performance enhancement in athletes :

Visualization 

Mental rehearsals

Cognitive restructuring

Attention control

Self-talk 

Goal setting 

Biofeedback

Mindfulness 

4. What Does A Sports Psychologist Do?

Sports psychologists help amateurs and professionals in many capacities.

Below is an outline of the several functions that sports psychologists provide in the course of their careers:

Counsel  athletes on work-life issues 

Evaluate the performance of an athlete and identify areas of insecurity and stress

Offer personal-psychological advice 

Determine and use the best psychological techniques to overcome challenges, enhance focus, lessen anxiety, and maximize potential in athletes

Address psychological issues, such as substance use, imposter syndrome, or performance anxiety

Help athletes cope with the emotional and mental pressures of competitions and expectations from parents, fans, coaches , and teammates. 

Assist with rehabilitation after illness or injury of athletes

Develop advanced training and exercise routines 

Teach mental and emotional techniques for anger, energy, and stress management and improve on-field performance

Help athletes effectively communicate with teammates, coaches, and the press.

Encourage athletes to keep their motivation high for continued progress.

Teach conflict-resolution skills

Sports psychologists in military settings help soldiers improve their performance and assist families and civilians who face several adversities related to military service.

Educate coaches about the best approach to create a stimulating, safe and emotionally healthy experience for athletes

Exercise psychologists teach patients how to create personal, motivational, and realistic goals. 

Teach athletes how to sharpen their focus and alertness when performing in the noise of large crowds or under stress

Develop group strengthening exercises to enhance team unity in group sports between different investors, coaches, and players 

5. Desirable Skills For A Sports Psychologist

To make a successful Sports psychology career, you need the following skills and traits:

Enjoy working with athletes 

Strong understanding of human behaviour

Athletic personality 

Patient 

Understanding

Able to use psychological tools to improve athlete's performance

Dedication to helping clients achieve their full potential 

Good conflict resolution skills

Self-motivated and a Great Motivator

Anger management skills 

Analytical mindset 

Great observational skills

Extensive knowledge of the interaction between psychological and physical stress

Excellent Communication and Listening skills

Critical thinking

6. Sport Psychologist Qualifications in Australia

You need the fulfil the following educational and training requirements to become an endorsed psychologist in Australia:

Complete an undergraduate Bachelor of sports psychology qualification or a  Graduate Diploma in Psychology  and gain provisional registration as a psychologist. 

Complete a Doctorate or a  Master's  of sport psychology qualification approved for endorsement. 

Undertake training under the supervision of an endorsed practitioner. The training period depends on the postgraduate qualification. 

Gain endorsement from the  Psychology Board of Australia  and become a registered Sports Psychologist.

7. Steps To Become A Sports Psychologist In Australia

Aspiring sports psychologists must follow a rigorous and well-established pathway to become official sports psychologists in Australia:

Step 1: Study For A Sport Psychology Degree In Australia

The first step to embarking on a journey as a sports psychologist is to complete an  undergraduate degree  in sports psychology or sports psychology courses like a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from an accredited education provider is a good option.

The combination of  work experience  and classroom learning will help you build a foundation in the fundamental principles of psychology. After completing the course, you will obtain provisional registration as a psychologist.

Students will also learn psychological assessment techniques,  counselling , and mental skills to improve the performance of athletes at varying levels of their careers.

Step 2: Complete Post Graduate Qualification

Once you have a three-year undergraduate degree or diploma, you must complete 4th-year studies to get into a Doctorate or a Master of Sports Psychology in Australia. When earning this qualification, you can register as a practising sports psychologist.

Step 3: Receive Endorsement

The final step is to apply for an endorsement in a specific area of Sport Psychology. You will need to undertake supervised training with an approved practitioner.

The training period is 1-year for master's degree holders and 2-years for Doctorate holders. Upon completing the training, you will receive an endorsement from the Psychology Board of Australia as a registered Sports Psychologist.

National Resources For Sports Psychologists:

Australian Psychological Society  

Association for Applied Sport Psychology  

The Australian Institute of Sport  

Psychology Board of Australia  

Australian Psychology Accreditation Council  

8. Sports Psychology Courses Online In Australia

Where do you train to become a sports psychologist? Here are some of the best programs and training institutes that offer them:

Sports Psychology Subject

Studying sports psychology helps understand social, ethical, and psychological issues associated with playing a sport, such as aggression, anxiety, motivation, etc.

The 13-week course offers a theoretical introduction to sports psychology and analytical tools, including performance measures and personality profiling. This online sports psychology course is beneficial for students to develop sports psychology knowledge anywhere and anytime.

Master of Psychology (Sport and Exercise)  - Institute For Social Neuroscience

It is an accredited Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) course designed to prepare students as Sports and Exercise psychologists for official practice. You can study for a master's degree online or face-to-face at ISN Psychology's Ivanhoe campus.

Graduates can apply for the PsyBA registrar program to obtain endorsement as Sports and Exercise Psychology Psychologists.

The course equips students with the necessary skills and knowledge related to psychological factors determining their peak performance and overall well-being. Some of these factors include:

Psychological assessment

Psychological ethics, primary interventions, and research

Ethics in sport and exercise psychology

Sports medicine

Injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation

Team dynamics 

Application of psychological interventions for the well-being and performance

Students learn from accomplished sports and exercise psychologists to secure placements in professional sporting and exercise organizations. After earning the degree, graduates can register as general psychologists.

The Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical)  – Institute For Social Neuroscience

The APAC accredited Doctoral degree in sports psychology prepares students for professional practice for both Sports and Exercise Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists.

Graduates of the Doctor of Psychology are eligible to enter the PsyBA registrar program to pursue endorsements as Sports and Exercise or  Clinical Psychologists .

During the course, students will discover the psychological factors linked to participation and performance in sports and learn to provide therapeutic measures to treat psychological conditions in sports and exercise settings.

After completion, students can perform clinical work to address a range of mental illnesses through psychiatric hospitals, government agencies, non-profit organizations, specialist services,  forensic settings ,  private practice , or schools.

9. Work Conditions For Sports Psychologists

Sports psychology jobs generally involve working with  high schools , colleges, professional athletes, and sports teams. Sports psychologists work directly with trainers,  physical therapists , support teams, and physicians. 

They use psychological techniques to help individual athletes or teammates cope with their psychological issues and improve overall performance.

10. Where Do Sports Psychologists Work In Australia?

Studying sports psychology in Australia can lead to various unexpected career pathways within the sports industry. Sports psychologists generally work in several workplace settings that, include:

Sports Recreational Clubs

University and high school athletic departments

Arts venues

Part-time or contractual-based private practice for individual professional athletes or sports teams

As a  consultant  for a coach in sports and exercise organizations

Job opportunities in colleges are more significant than at the professional level. However, once you become an experienced sports psychologist, you may start offering private services to professional athletes and individuals to boost your income.

11. Areas Of Specialization For Sports Psychologists

After years of experience, sports psychologists can pursue the following areas of speciality:

Youth sports

Clinical sports psychology

Organizational sports psychology

Athletic performance

Educational sports psychology

Team processes

12. What Factors Influence The Job Prospects Of A Sports Psychologist?

Several factors influence demand and employment opportunities in the Sports Psychology field:

Education level of a sports psychologist 

Experience as a sports psychologist

Area of Specialization of a sports psychologist

Type of sport

Industry in which a sports psychologist works

Nature of employment

The performance of athletes on the field

The best jobs receive those with the highest education in sports psychology. A doctorate with post-doctoral work will land you the most lucrative sports psychology roles in professional sports.

For a new graduate, the types of sports psychology jobs available are fewer than for someone with several years of experience. Thus, gaining experience working in a junior-level or assistant sports psychologist role will make you more desirable for paid employment.

Internships , volunteering, participating in additional practicum during graduate/  doctoral studies , or running a private practice will help you gain more experience.

Furthermore, pursuing a speciality can help enhance your possibilities of securing a sports psychology job. Where professional sports teams often seek clinical sports psychologists, a specialization in organizational sports psychology makes you more appealing to professional teams needing guidance.

Underperforming teams are more in need of sports psychologists than overperforming ones.

13. How Big Is The Demand For Sports Psychologists?

Sports and exercise industries in Australia are evolving with great scope for advancement. The government has a dedicated agency to assess the outlook, demand, pay, and training required to bring and nurture talent in sports psychology.

The future job prospects in this field are promising due to various reasons:

  • The frequent engagement of Olympians and other Australian athletes and teams calls for sports psychologists to offer psychological guidance and mental strategies to improve their performance.
  • The transferrable skills that sports psychologists develop because of postgraduate qualifications enable them to work in areas outside the sports field, such as arts, business, and the  military .

As per the national Job Outlook website, the demand for sports psychologists will be robust in the coming decade, with an average growth rate faster than all other occupations. It indicates that career opportunities will continue to grow in this field.

14. How Much Salary Does A Sports Psychologist Earn In Australia?

You need a doctoral degree in psychology and additional training in sports psychology to become a successful sports psychologist. Thus, you need to invest several years in education to pursue this career. Therefore, you need to know how much you can earn as a sports psychologist salary in Australia.

The Sports psychologist's salary varies a lot. The national average salary for a sports psychologist is AU$70,000 per year, equivalent to AU$50.00 per hour.

When compared based on experience:

Early career Sports Psychologists (1 to 4 years of experience) earn AU$50,868 per year.

Mid-career Sports psychologists (5 to 9 years of experience) make AU$73,698 per year.

15. Conclusion

A career in sports psychology is the perfect means to combine your sports interests with a professional career in psychology. The thrill of working in sports with professional sports teams and helping clients maximize their performance makes the profession appealing to many.

However, with many sports psychologists currently working in the industry, you can find intense job competition. Maximizing education, getting early experience, and establishing a reputation will make it easier to find employment.

Useful Links to Explore:

  • English Language Requirements for Australia
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  • How to change your Course or Institute in Australia
  • The Benefits of a Professional Year Program (PYP)
  • A Complete Guide to Study in Australia
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Articles on Sport psychology

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Science is just starting to understand the benefits of athletes putting their brains in ‘auto pilot’

Michael John O'Keeffe , The University of Queensland

sport psychology phd australia

The mystery of the massive sporting comeback: what’s the psychology of momentum in sports?

Caitlin Fox-Harding , Edith Cowan University

sport psychology phd australia

It’s not just retiring athletes who need mental health support – young sportspeople need it, too

Vita Pilkington , The University of Melbourne

sport psychology phd australia

Siya Kolisi: the South African rugby star’s story offers valuable lessons in resilience

Tinashe Timothy Harry , Nelson Mandela University

sport psychology phd australia

The Ashes: how England cricket’s head coach Brendon McCullum developed his ‘Bazball’ style

David Turner , Anglia Ruskin University and Matt Jewiss , Anglia Ruskin University

sport psychology phd australia

Harry Kane is Tottenham and England’s top goal scorer – sports scientists explain his brilliance

Matt Jewiss , Anglia Ruskin University and Harley-Jean Simpson , Anglia Ruskin University

sport psychology phd australia

New study reveals gender bias in sport research. It’s yet another hurdle to progress in women’s sport

Courtney C Walton , The University of Melbourne ; Caroline Gao , The University of Melbourne , and Simon Rice , The University of Melbourne

sport psychology phd australia

Eddie Betts’ camp saga highlights a motivational industry rife with weird, harmful ideas

Ben Farr-Wharton , Edith Cowan University ; Matthew Xerri , Griffith University , and Yvonne Brunetto , Southern Cross University

sport psychology phd australia

Dizzying highs and crushing lows: is being a sports fan good or bad for you?

Melissa Fothergill , Newcastle University

sport psychology phd australia

What Olympic athletes can teach us about regulating our emotions and staying dedicated

Thomas Hannan , Griffith University

sport psychology phd australia

Record-setting performances at the Tokyo Olympics come after months of pandemic-induced stress

Angela Schneider , Western University

sport psychology phd australia

Why fans cover their faces when football players take penalties – a psychologist explains

Dr Gillian Cook , Liverpool John Moores University

sport psychology phd australia

We studied mental toughness in ultra-marathon runners. Mind over matter is real — but won’t take you all the way

Kendall George , University of the Sunshine Coast

sport psychology phd australia

What South Africa’s top cricketers have to say about quotas

Mary Ann Dove , University of Cape Town

sport psychology phd australia

Rugby referees are quitting. It’s time to show some compassion

Mikel Mellick , Cardiff Metropolitan University

sport psychology phd australia

Playing without fear of the outcome: a psychologist tells us what we can learn from the success of the Richmond Tigers

Amy Dawel , Australian National University

sport psychology phd australia

Women’s World Cup: choking under pressure is common – here’s how to avoid it

Dr Robin Jackson , Loughborough University

sport psychology phd australia

Andy Murray: breaking away from sport’s ‘no pain, no gain’ culture

Francesca Cavallerio , Anglia Ruskin University

sport psychology phd australia

The Japanese art of kintsugi and how it can help with defeat in sport

Brad Elphinstone , Swinburne University of Technology and Richard Whitehead , Swinburne University of Technology

sport psychology phd australia

World Cup: dialling down pressure makes England victory more likely

Martin J Turner , Staffordshire University

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Certificate in Sports Psychology

Study a certificate in sports coaching or sports psychology at home, learning the psychology of sports by distance education to work as a sports coach, personal trainer or fitness instructor.

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All prices in Australian Dollars.

  • Description
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Sports Psychology is the science that examines the individual's psychology and their participation in sport. A person's state of mind can have a dramatic influence on their sporting performance. Looking at the interactions between psychology and sporting performance can give us great insight into tools and techniques to select and coach athletes to victory - whatever that might be for them.

  Sports psychologists provide two major types of services –

  • Counselling – in areas that affect the athlete. 
  • Develop strategies that enhance performance.
  • Helping elite athletes and sports persons to develop strategies to deal with competition and training.
  • Helping coaches and managers in their communication and interpersonal skills
  • Working with health promotion staff to increase the motivation to exercise and maintain the exercise in individuals who are mainly sedentary.
  • Using research to maximise practice and fitness regimes.
  • Counselling individuals who have been injured.
  • Advising younger sports persons on how to deal with family, problems, disappointment, homesickness etc.
Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Sports Psychology.
 
 
 
 
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 18 modules.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Note that each module in the Certificate in Sports Psychology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What Does a Successful Athlete Look Like?

Concentration - Able to maintain focus

Confidence - Belief in our own abilities

Control - Able to maintain our emotional control, ignoring distraction. Commitment - The ability to continue to strive towards agreed goals.

Concentration

Broad/Narrow spectrum – For example, the athlete is able to focus on a large or small number of stimuli.

Internal/External spectrum – For example, the athlete can focus on external stimuli, such as the ball, or internal stimuli, such as their feelings. 

 The level and type of concentration required varies from sport to sport. For example –

  •  Sustained concentration may be required for cycling, long distance running etc.
  •  Short concentration bursts may be required for golf, shooting etc.
  •  Intense concentration may be required for skiing or sprinting etc.

Distractions:

  • Public announcements
  • Negative thoughts
  • Low self-esteem

The following dispositions are broad characteristics that are often associated with elite sports persons:

Risk Taking -Risk takers may include mountaineers, parachutists, who tend to be very confident that they can manage the risks that might be involved. They are willing to take physical risks to trigger their fight and flight response. So sporting risk takers are intentionally provoking this fight or flight response, as they may experience this high level of arousal in an exciting rather than fearful way.

Stimulus Seeking – associated with craving “experiences” or sensations. In sports, participants may seek the experience of fun, adrenalin, camaraderie, anticipation. Some studies have found athletes to be higher in stimulus, or sensation seeking than non-athletes.

Competitiveness – Can be motivation to drive an athlete to perform their best. A strong desire to win can give a participant an edge over other participants.

Self-Confidence – In sports this is to do with the amount of certainty an athlete has that they can be successful. This is recognised as an important factor in the enjoyment and success in sports.

Self-Discipline – is the ability to give up immediate gratification to work towards long-term rewards and goals. Self-disciplined athletes can motivate themselves to work long and hard for a potential future gain.

Rapid Cognition (make decisions quickly) – important for sports requiring split-second responses, e.g. tennis, basketball, soccer.

Positive outlook – always expect the best. Having a positive outlook can boost their performance levels. Negative affect such as depression, anger, anxiety and tension can reduce performance.

Good Stress Management – Athletes that can control their emotions and have emotional stability can help them to be more successful, by focusing on the task at hand, recovering from success or failure and not getting caught up by stress

Teams tend to show predictable personality profiles. So by understanding their psyche, their performance can be improved, as well as communication between players and the coach. It can also be used to make use of their personal strengths and work in other areas to identify their personality and learning styles.

People Who Can Benefit From This Course

This certificate provides a solid foundation in the study of what it takes to succeed in sports, athletics and fitness training. Success in sports is more than physical fitness. It also depends on state of mind. There are many different psychological strategies that people can use to help motivate sports people and sustain their determination. Graduates of this course will have learnt about many of these strategies as well as complementary areas of study such as diet, fitness and managing personal energy resources.     This course is aimed primarily at people working in, or thinking of working in the following fields:

  • Sports coach
  • Personal trainer
  • Sports psychology
  • Health professions

The course may also be of interest to people who have friends or family who aspire to become athletes whether on an amateur or professional level.

ENROL or Use our FREE Course Advice Service to Connect with a Tutor

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines. Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete. If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans. We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone. If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program. We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments. If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding in your selected discipline. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later. There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam. Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam. More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (6 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email [email protected].

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years. We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future. We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience. You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace. We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ([email protected]) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

Take a look at their testimonials here.

What if I change my mind?

Our terms and conditions of enrolment are here.

Please get in touch with [email protected] if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( [email protected] ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

sport psychology phd australia

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.

sport psychology phd australia

Tracey Jones (Psychologist)

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing, editing, education, psychology, and business. Tracey has several books and hundreds of articles published; in both fiction and non fiction.

sport psychology phd australia

Jacinda Cole (Psychologist)

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Jacinda has worked for ACS for over 10 years.

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

sport psychology phd australia

Lyn has 35 years of experience in the Fitness, Health and Leisure Industries. She has a string of qualifications that are far too long to list here; being qualified and registered to teach, coach or instruct a wide range of different sports and other skills. Lyn established and managed Health clubs at three major five star resorts on Australia's Gold Coast, including The Marriott. She was a department head for a large government vocational college (TAFE), and has conducted her own aquafitness business for many years. Lyn has among her other commitments worked as a tutor for ACS for almost 10 years, and over that time, participated in the development or upgrading of most courses in her fields of expertise.

sport psychology phd australia

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson B. Mech Eng (hons) Dip. Health Graham has spent his life in the farming and agriculture industry, particularly carving a niche in the avocado sector with experience ranging from tissue culture, to nursery management to fruit marketing. He has an engineering qualification and an extensive range of mechanical skills which are now diversifying to an understanding of our internal mechanics in health and psychology with qualifications underway.

sport psychology phd australia

Julia Mayo-Ramsay

Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay is a practicing environmental and agricultural lawyer. She holds a PhD in International Environmental Law, LLM, BLJS, GDLP, LLM (Environmental Law) and a Master of Applied Science (Agriculture). Julia started out in agriculture working on various dairy farms in the 1980s before working as dairy manager / tutor at Hawkesbury Agricultural College Richmond NSW. Julia then went on to work at Riverina Artificial Breeders at Tabletop (Albury) NSW as an embryo transfer technician assisting vets with artificial breeding and embryo transfer in cattle, sheep and deer. This was followed by two years as a herd manager for a very large commercial dairy herd milking 3,000 cows over three dairies on the outskirts of Sydney before heading overseas. In 1994 Julia accepted a position in NE Thailand at the Sakhon Nakhon Institute of Technology (now a University) training farmers and students in cattle breeding and dairy farm management. On returning to Australia in late 1996 Julia completed a Master of Applied Science in Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (UWS) as well as law degrees and maritime studies. Julia now works as a Lawyer in the area of environmental and rural law. Currently Julia teaches a variety of maritime subjects for Marine Rescue NSW. As well as teaching Julia is working on a number of environmental research projects.

sport psychology phd australia

Aerobic Fitness

Understand cardio respiratory fitness. Keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy. Aerobic fitness can contribute more to your quality of life than any other aspect of fitness! This updated version of a book originally published by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster) It is an informative read, and also contains detailed illustrations of which exercises to use for individual muscle groups.

sport psychology phd australia

Aqua Fitness

Aqua fitness is low impact exercise in water. It is great for rehabilitation after injury, weight loss, and general fitness. This e-book is full of well illustrated exercises to try and has been written for both exercise professionals and amateurs. It is the revised edition of a book by John Mason, originally published by Kangaroo Press (Simon & Schuster).

sport psychology phd australia

What makes a good leader? Is it an innate personality trait or a skill that can be acquired? This book is an excellent guide to the theories and practice of leadership. It is full of interesting facts about social dynamics and examples of leadership styles. For those who are curious or in need of some leadership skills, this book will provide both entertainment and advice.

sport psychology phd australia

Unsure about which course is best for you?

sport psychology phd australia

In my role within a large Aged Care Facility a great deal of my employment is spent in the area of Turf management and garden care/refurbishment. With ACS I was able to study at my own pace allowing me to put into practise and thoroughly research the subject matter broadening my knowledge and study experience further. I enjoyed the way in which the subject matter was presented as it allowed you to study each subject further, allowing for greater depth, clarity and knowledge. Overall there are not many areas in which the course subject matter will not turn out to be invaluable, everything is covered to allow you to become successful within your own business or place of employment. A big thank you to Gavin Cole [tutor] and all at ACS. It was a pleasure to study with ACS, look forward to further study.

sport psychology phd australia

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sport psychology phd australia

Australian Online Courses

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Certificate of Sport Psychology

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If your career or community involvement requires you to work with people in sport, such as coaches, athletes, physical education teachers or fitness instructors, developing skills in understanding how a person’s psychological state impacts sporting performance is important.

Certificate of Sport Psychology is an online professional development course that will introduce you to the fundamental principles of sport psychology and help you understand the psychological factors that influence motivation and performance in sport settings.

In this online sport psychology course you will explore the nature and scope of sports psychology, how to identify psychological traits found in successful athletes, and how to explain how the mind affects athletic performance and discuss ways of maintaining or increasing motivation in sports and exercise.

On completion of this course you will feel empowered to support people in sports, whether it’s club sports or individual sporting achievements, to get the most out of their performance.

Course Structure

Unit - Sport Psychology

Unit 1 – Introduction

  • Performance psychology
  • Exercise psychology
  • Environmental influences
  • Aspects of sports psychology
  • Applying sports psychology

Unit 2 – Psychological Traits of Successful Athletes

  • Personality inventory determining a personality type
  • Cognitive techniques

Unit 3 – Anxiety and Arousal

  • Understanding and dealing with anxiety
  • Physiology of anxiety
  • Maximising psychological state
  • Focusing (or centering)

Unit 4 – Motivation

  • Motivation as an internal impulse that causes increasingly energetic action in a particular direction
  • Basic principles of motivation
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Factors affecting motivation
  • Motivation for fun
  • Slimming for fun

Unit 5 – Aggression

  • Mental rehearsal
  • Error parking
  • Using self consciousness
  • Using word association
  • Anger and conflict
  • Measuring aggression
  • Simulated practice, e-event procedure
  • Reliving success
  • Conflict handling techniques

Unit 6 – Leadership and Coaching

  • Role of a coach
  • How to get attention
  • Questioning

Unit 7 – Team Dynamics

  • Group cohesion
  • Forming storming norming performing
  • Traits of an effective team
  • Suitable membership
  • Appropriate leadership
  • Commitment to the team
  • Concern for achieving
  • Effective work methods
  • Well organised team procedures
  • Ability to take criticism
  • Creative strength
  • Positive relationships
  • Positive environment

Unit 8 – Special Groups

  • Understanding stress
  • Post game season evaluation
  • Gender differences, elite female athletes
  • Special considerations with female athletes
  • Disabled persons.
  • Dropping out

Study Hours

Estimated duration 50 hours

Course Delivery and Start

Start anytime, self-paced and 100% online

Assessment will be comprised of written exercises, including short-answer questions, reflective tasks, short reports and/or projects. There are no examinations or due dates for assessment. As a result, you can complete training in your own time and at your own pace with the assistance of unlimited tutor support.

Testimonials

My learning experience as enjoyable and informative and provided me with a good introduction to the subject matter..

J. Reinhard, NSW | Introduction to Sport Psychology

I had a great experience studying with Australian Online Course, I enjoyed the fact that I was able to work on the course at my own pace as well as receive helpful and appropriate feedback from the tutors

D. Drube, Singapore | Certificate of Sport Psychology

I enjoyed my studying experience with Australian Online Courses. I found it easy to access, easy to work through, and very interesting. The course content was interesting, and the course was exactly what I was looking for, as a way of professional development

J. Weinberg, Vaucluse, NSW | Certificate of Sports Psychology

I had a great experience learning sports psychology through an Australian online course platform. I will definitely use all these techniques in my PE classes while dealing with amateur and professional athletes. Thank you so much for the Australian online course. I wish to learn and explore more about PE courses from Australia.

V. Chohan, Hubei, Wuhan, China | Certificate of Sport Psychology

Studying with Australian Online Courses gave me the flexibility to complete field studies, tasks and assignments in my own time. I did not feel pressured at any time during my course to submit work until I was completely satisfied with my work. The course material was well presented and easy to follow. I would highly recommend Australian Online Courses to anyone who is looking to undertake online study with such a helpful and professional organisation. Thanks again.

I have experienced: i) Extremely efficient online learning. ii) Quick marking ‘turn-around’ times. iii) Tutors who have been wonderfully approachable and helpful with any queries and concerns regarding course enrollment, assessments and/or subject matter. Overall, I am very satisfied with learning via Australian Online Courses. Thank you.

Fantastic experience and was able to gain lots of knowledge.

I have learnt a lot from this course. This course has helped me to manage my anger issues and look at things from a different perspective. I have learnt that my anger and the behaviour can affect others. I have learnt new ways on controlling and managing my emotions and anger. This is the first time i have attended an anger management course. I wish I had done this course earlier.

The course content was relevant, interesting and appropriately paced.

My experience was Australian Online Courses was excellent. I could complete the work at my own pace using the provided materials which were in a easy to access spot. The education has helped me formulate ideas for progressing a project I am currently trying to develop. Overall I am very satisfied with what I have experienced.

It was a very informative platform. The study material is very useful and assignments are practical based real life situations. I learned a lot and I try my best to improve myself with the help of this course.

I completed this course to develop my knowledge and skillset in policy development in hopes of progressing my career. Online study works best for me to allow me to continue working full time, and studying when it suits me. Assessments were marked quickly, and the content was engaging and beneficial. Thank you to AOC

I enjoyed studying and I’m going to enroll for another course. The tutor was great and it was easy to understand.

The best institute I have ever come through. Looking forward to enrolling in few other courses for a refresher.

I was grateful to be able to study at my own pace, so I could stop and start when I chose and be able to keep up with other commitments. I also appreciated the tutors responding to my queries in a timely manner.

I have thoroughly enjoyed completing this course. I’ve learnt many valuable new skills, which will assist me in advancing my career. Thank you!

It was amazing experience to do online course with this organisation. Everything comes very smooth and the portal is very user friendly.

loved studying Australian Online Courses. The fact that you are able to complete the course and assessment in your own time is amazing! I started this course when I was heavily pregnant with my first child and have now completed it 6 months after he was born due to the fact that it is at your own pace!

I absolutely loved it! It was easy to pick up so that I could learn and start a new career.

AOC was great. Study content was great and gave me all necessary information to complete the assessments and also gain a great understanding of the units. I also dealt with AOC support to extend my course and it was such an easy process and I was so glad to be able to do that without any issues.

I loved my experience studying with Australian Online Courses.

Amazing learning opportunity, I love that I can complete the course at my own pace. The learning and the assignments provided me with a lot of insight and knowledge for my future career.

My experience for studying with Australian Online Courses was excellent. All the information supplied to me was easy to understand. I would definitely come back to you to study another course if needed, in the future. Highly recommend.

My experience with Australian online courses has been fantastic, I would highly recommend them to everyone I know. Professional and extremely helpful staff make studying online so much easier. I definitely would chose to study with Australian Online Courses again.

A Certificate of Attainment and Statement of Results will be issued upon successful completion of this course.

How to Enrol

Enrol Online:   Enrol Now

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Enrol via Telephone 1300 76 2221 (Business Hours)

Enrol via Purchase Order/Tax Invoice

Enrolling Multiple Staff?

To enrol multiple staff, please complete the  Employer Enrolment Form.  We’ll be in touch within 60 minutes during business hours!

Payment Options

Visa, Mastercard, BPAY and Direct Deposit.

Course FAQs

Why Choose Australian Online Courses?

  • Professional development that is widely recognised and respected;
  • Improve your employment opportunities;
  • Study online, anywhere via our elearning system;
  • High-quality professional development programs written by industry experts;
  • All course materials provided online – no textbooks to buy;
  • Unlimited tutor support via email;
  • We offer twelve (12) months’ access, with extensions available upon application (fees apply);
  • Course may be tax deductible; see your tax advisor.

Are there any entry requirements or pre-requisites?

There are no course or subject pre-requisites for entry into our programs. However, our professional development programs are generally intended for people over the age of 18. In some circumstances, enrolments from younger people may be considered. Please complete the AOC Parent Guardian Consent Form prior to enrolling and submit here .

Are there any computer requirements?

To study online with Australian Online Courses you will need a computer (desktop PC/laptop) running a current/updated operating system with reliable high-speed internet access. You will need to use the Google Chrome browser to access your course.

When can I start this course?

You can start within 60 minutes during business hours when you enrol and pay in full with a credit card!

Credit card : Within 60 mins during business hours.

BPAY : Within 1-2 working days.

Internet Banking : Within 1-2 working days.

Cheque/Money Order: Upon receipt of mailed cheque.

How is this course delivered?

This course is delivered online via our easy-to-navigate Learning Management System (LMS), where you will discover interactive online learning/written content, resources and assessment.

Do I need to attend classes or undertake any work placements?

No. All courses are delivered online via our LMS and there are no work placement requirements in this course.

What support can I expect from Australian Online Courses?

Unlimited tutor support is available throughout your studies via email only during business hours Monday to Friday. Our Administrative team are available Monday to Friday via email, live chat and telephone.

I am an international student. Can I enrol into this course?

Yes! We accept enrolments from individuals both within Australia and internationally; location is no barrier to entry into our programs.

Career Pathways

Future growth

Unemployment

Professional Development For:

  • Personal Trainers
  • Physical Education Teachers
  • Sports Coaches

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Jennifer Grisham: 2024-25 University Research Professor Q&A

Jennifer Grisham, Ed.D.

UKNow is highlighting the University of Kentucky’s 2024-25 University Research Professors. Established by the Board of Trustees in 1976, the professorship program recognizes excellence across the full spectrum of research at UK and is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.   

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 9, 2024) — Jennifer Grisham, Ed.D., professor in the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program and faculty director of the Early Childhood Laboratory in the University of Kentucky College of Education has been honored as a 2024-25 University Research Professor.

Since joining UK in 1995, Grisham has worked to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families. Her work focuses on authentic assessment strategies, multitiered systems of support for differentiating instruction, and individualized instruction to children with disabilities in everyday activities and routines. Grisham has generated $15 million in federal funding and $11 million in state funding to support her research and graduate student education.

Since 2009, Grisham has supported research and education abroad experiences in Guatemala. She is cofounder of a children’s home and preschool program in Guatemala City called Hope for Tomorrow.

Grisham spoke with UKNow about her latest honor as a University Research Professor in this Q&A.

UKNow: What does it mean to you to be recognized as a University Research Professor? 

Grisham: Because of UK’s R1 status, I am very honored to be recognized in this manner. In the College of Education, there are many productive researchers and so I am humbled that I was chosen from among them. The financial award will allow me to conduct a project that will further my research agenda.

UKNow: How will the professorships program advance your research?

Grisham: I co-authored an assessment and curriculum system and have been investigating its validity, usability and capacity to improve outcomes for young children. The professorship will allow me to bring together U.S. and international researchers who are interested in advancing this work in other locations.

UKNow: How does your research address challenges facing Kentucky?

Grisham : There is an increase in the number of young children who are diagnosed with developmental delays. This is due to several factors including the high rate of children born addicted to drugs, trauma associated with substance use disorders and high rates of poverty in our state. Kentucky is faced with challenges in how to support children with developmental delays in inclusive early childhood settings. The research that I conduct is intended to address the myriad of challenges that Kentucky’s early childhood teachers face in supporting young children with diverse learning needs in their classrooms.

UKNow: What impact will your research have on Kentucky?

Grisham: I hope that my research will result in more inclusive early childhood practices in Kentucky. My research aims to assist teachers in including children with developmental delays in preschool settings.

About the University Research Professors Each year, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approves a cohort of faculty as University Research Professors . The distinction recognizes excellence in work that addresses scientific, social, cultural and economic challenges in Kentucky and the world. College leadership developed criteria for excellence within their area of expertise and then nominated faculty who excelled at these criteria. Each University Research Professor receives a one-year award of $10,000 and participates in other events planned around the program.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.   

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(03) 9008 1600

For Clinic Enquires Call (03) 9008 1616

Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical)

The Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) is designed to prepare students for professional practice as both Sport and Exercise and Clinical Psychologists. The program is accredited by APAC and is an AQF level 10 qualification. Graduates would be eligible to enter the PsyBA registrar program to pursue area of practice endorsements as Clinical and/or Sport and Exercise Psychologists.

The Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) provides skills and knowledge centred around understanding psychological factors that contribute to peak performance, wellbeing, and mental health. These factors are explored through assessment, theory and practice of psychological skills for performance, sport medicine, rehabilitation, psychopathology, child and adult psychological disorders, and methods to treat mental illness. Given ISN’s philosophy is rooted in psychology and neuroscience, you will learn a well-considered body of knowledge on practical approaches in sport, exercise, and clinical psychology, which align with the accreditation requirements governed by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). ISN has access to world-renowned academics in the field of psychology, as well service agreements with leading corporations who know the benefits of sport and exercise psychology. Our associated ISN Clinic has been set up to provide research informed treatments for mental illness, to restore mind body balance and to promote resilience and well-being. We use evidence-based techniques from across the world to apply and improve existing treatments. We carefully monitor the progress of each client to measure effectiveness and success. The course consists of coursework, practical placements, and research components.

Sport and Exercise Psychology involves exploring the psychological factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport and exercise as well as identifying risk factors that may contribute to mental illness. You will learn to provide therapeutic interventions for common psychological conditions in sport and excercise settings.

An understanding of Human Performance like never before with the added strength of Clinical Psychology

Evidence-based approaches are used to not only enhance performance but to provide expertise is such areas as health and wellness coaching, anxiety and stress management, concentration and mental preparation, overtraining and burnout, team building and leadership, weight management, debriefing and program evaluation, recovery and restoration, injury rehabilitation, psychological assessment, career transitions, coping strategies, and balancing sport, study, employment, and family life.

Graduates of the Doctor of Psychology are also prepared for clinical work to address mental illness in a number of settings through psychiatric hospitals, specialist services, government agencies, not-for-profit organisations, schools, forensic settings, or private practice.

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Article: Damien Stewart discusses the sport psychology landscape in Australia and how the pathway to becoming a practicing psychologist seems to take a unique form compared to other countries in the world.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students who have completed a four-year, APAC accredited* sequence in Psychology are eligible to apply for a place in the Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) at ISN Psychology.

The minimum academic entry requirement is the completion of an APAC accredited 4th year of study at a study average equivalence across units of 75%. Entry into the Doctor of Psychology (Sport & Exercise, Clinical) is competitive and requires consideration of academic results, relevant experience, and the outcome of interviews/assessment.

Applicants who can demonstrate that they are currently registered as a psychologist, and are complying with the CPD requirements of the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA), will be exempted from the aforementioned entry requirements and considered for entry into the postgraduate course based on experience in the field.

Applicants must be eligible for registration as a provisional psychologist with PsyBA. Successful candidates will be asked to apply for provisional registration and provide a police check, working with children check, and evidence of appropriate professional indemnity insurance and/or APS membership as part of the enrolment process.

Applicants will be ranked on the basis of academic merit (based on the transcripts provided), previous work experience and/or training, and academic and professional referee reports.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to attend an interview/assessment and a decision will be made after this process to select candidates for the program.

Domestic students with Australian citizenship or Permanent Residency rights (or New Zealand Citizenship) can apply.

ISN cannot currently accept applications for international students.

Candidates must meet minimum English language proficiency standards for entry. This will require that candidates have successfully completed a 4th year APAC accredited psychology degree (and demonstrated English equivalency).

Permanent residency students and/or students who have obtained their qualifications from overseas, in addition to providing their APS documentation* for equivalency, need to demonstrate acceptable International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores. An overall minimum of 7.0 (with no band less than 7 expected).

(*Students who completed their undergraduate studies overseas but meet the domestic student criteria can apply for this course. ISN requires evidence of course equivalence in the form of an APS assessment document for all international qualifications).

Personal Statement

Students are required to provide a 500 word personal statement to accompany their application. In particular, reviewers at ISN are interested in:

Why you are interested in the combined Sport and Exercise/Clinical  psychology programme;

Why you are applying for this program rather than another health discipline or scope of practice;

What makes you a suitable candidate;

Any particular psychology interests or passions you may have;

Your relevant skills, work and personal experiences; and

A diversity statement – that is, describe what professional or personal skills, experience or community engagement demonstrate your commitment to sensitivity and awareness of diversity issues (e.g. gender, culture, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.).

Selection Process

Phase 1 – Domestic student status and Academic entry requirements review: Academic achievement in an APAC accredited four-year sequence of study in psychology with greatest weighting given to the 4th year (Honours or Graduate Diploma). Students must have completed an APAC accredited 4th year of study and be eligible to register as a provisional psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) to be considered for entry.

Phase 2 – Candidate ranking based on academic ability and all supporting documentation (CV, Personal Statement, Referee Reports) for candidates that meet phase 1 entry requirements;

Phase 3 – Interviews/assessment with shortlisted candidates

Phase 4 – Ranking of shortlisted candidates based on interview/assessment performance

Phase 5 – Offers sent out to candidates based on final rankings and intake quota.

Course Structure and Fees

Course Structure, Fees for 2024 and further information are indicated in the course handbook linked below:

ISN Psychology is a FEE HELP approved provider. Tuiton fees are payable upfront or through FEE HELP for eligible students.

Census Dates for each Semester are outlined in our Key Dates Page.  

For more information about tuition fees please contact us (03) 9008 1600

Applications Open for 2024

Upon acceptance of the offer (or prior to the beginning of the enrolment period for enrolled students undertaking a course degree sequence), students will be required to indicate any prior learning to be considered as credit towards the degree and whether the student wishes to apply for any disability assistance. Credit will be determined based on a a pro-rata basis with 100 credit points equivalent to 1 full year of tuition fees. ​ Based on the information provided in the acceptance, enrolment forms will be issued where students will be able to verify enrolled course degree units and the cost of units will be outlined together with payment options. Students will have unto census date to withdraw from units enrolled before incurring any fees. ​ Students can pay up-front for their fees, or apply for FEE-HELP. FEE-HELP is an Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students to pay all or part of their tuition fees. See: http://studyassist.gov.au. For full information on our fee structure, fee credit and refund policy, please see Section E of ISN's Policy and Procedure Manual.

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PhD researchers have three minutes to make an impact

July 8, 2024

Annual competition encourages students to distil complex research into engaging presentation

How does one distil years of research and tens of thousands of words into three minutes? With a lot of creativity and a dash of fun.

This week (Wednesday 10 July), the eight finalists in the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Three-Minute Thesis competition will take the stage to compete over who can best communicate their complex research. The aim is to turn an 80,000-word thesis into a presentation that lasts the same time as the average pop song.

With topics ranging from maritime policy to cancer treatment, marketing to children’s health, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidates will spend just three minutes presenting to the audience about their research, using every day, non-expert language.

The competition celebrates the exciting and cutting-edge research developed by PhD students . As part of their presentation, competitors are allowed only one slide with which to entertain and engage their audience.

The winner of the UOW heat progresses to the Asia-Pacific semi-final, hosted by the University of Queensland.    

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research and Sustainable Futures) Professor David Currow, who will be a judge in the competition, said the Three-Minute Thesis was a chance for PhD candidates to consider how to communicate their research in a way that was inspiring and impactful.

“It is a special skill to turn a full body of research into a short, sharp presentation,” he said.

“The Three-Minute Thesis encourages PhD candidates to get to the core of why their research matters, to hone their communication skills and focus on how they are making an impact. I can’t wait to see what the UOW finalists have in store.”

The 2024 UOW finalists are:

Chloe Haynes, School of Psychology

A third-year PhD candidate, Chloe’s research focuses on the gendered nature of opioid use, and how patriarchal and societal notions of gender have impacted women’s experiences of opioid use, treatment, and recovery. She hopes to highlight to issues faced by women who use opioids and inform policy and service changes to help improve the experiences of women in treatment.

Rachel Wiseman, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

Following a decade marketing some of the world’s most recognisable brands, Rachel Wiseman decided to explore profound questions about our economic structures. Her multi-disciplinary PhD draws on the philosophy of economics, moral psychology, and evaluative linguistics to systematically identify the moral values embedded in influential economic texts.  

Elahe Minaei, School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience

Elahe Minaei is a third-year PhD student in the Perrow's Targeted Cancer Therapeutics Research Laboratory at UOW. As a storyteller and poet, she envisions the world inside the body as a parallel to the external world. She believes that when science and imagination come together, innovation is born.

Melissa Eaton, School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences

An Accredited Practising Dietitian, Melissa Eaton’s PhD research investigates nutrition and mental health, with a focus on eating behaviour, disordered eating, and weight-stigma. Melissa hopes her research will contribute to the adoption of a more ‘health-centric’ healthcare system, to better support all bodies and individuals living with mental health concerns.  

Tiana Breust, School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering

Tiana’s PhD project focuses on the development of computer-based methods applied to the clinical management of surgeries in children with cerebral palsy. This highly interdisciplinary topic highlights how advancements in computational methods can be applied to drive better patient outcomes in the future.

Rajib Das, Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials

Rajib Das completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in applied chemistry and chemical engineering in Bangladesh in 2013. Rajib’s PhD focuses on synthesizing advanced nanomaterials to protect human health from the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species produced by ionizing radiations like UV, X-ray, and gamma rays.  

Jacki Johnson, School of Business

A former occupational therapist and safety scientist, Jacki Johnson’s PhD explores how Australian businesses make the strategic decision to commit to social and environmental goals and the governance practices that support the delivery to these goals. Jacki has also been a faculty member of the Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership (Australia and New Zealand) .  

Lucky Wuwung, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security

A PhD candidate from Indonesia, Lucky Wuwung’s research is dedicated to integrated ocean governance at the national level, aiming to learn from the experiences of maritime nations in managing their ocean and coastal areas. The lessons and insights gained from this research will contribute to advancing Indonesia and other maritime countries' goals for sustainable ocean development.  

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COMMENTS

  1. Sport and Exercise Psychology

    Careers in Sport and Exercise Psychology provide diverse opportunities from helping elite athletes develop the psychological skills needed to reach peak performance, to conducting research and awareness into the benefits of exercise for the treatment of chronic illness.

  2. A Guide to Sport & Performance Psychology

    The sport and performance psychology field combines a deep understanding of psychology and human behaviour through a sport-focused lens. The field of sport psychology, also known as performance psychology or exercise psychology, has accelerated in the last 20 years with the increased understanding that sport performance is impacted by mental wellbeing.

  3. Sport and Performance Psychology

    Sport and Performance Psychology - EDPN6018. Year - 2024. Sport coaching is a complex multivariate process that involves the interaction of personal, environmental, and contextual factors. Coaches now recognise the critical role sport and performance psychology plays in athlete development, wellbeing and performance.

  4. Doctor of Philosophy

    Contact information. Our friendly advisers are available to speak to you one-on-one about your study options, support services and how we can help you further your career. Call us: 1800 693 888 Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm. Live Chat: Monday - Friday. Submit an online enquiry.

  5. Sport and Exercise

    a citizen of Australia or New Zealand, ... Careers in sport and exercise psychology provide diverse opportunities from helping elite athletes develop the psychological skills needed to reach peak performance to conducting research and awareness into the benefits of exercise for the treatment of chronic illness. As a graduate, you'll be eligible ...

  6. Exercise and Sport Sciences

    Sport and Exercise Psychology . Sport Coaching . Sport Medicine . Exercise and Sport Sciences. UQ has ranked 1st in Australia and 2nd in the world for sports-related subjects four years running (2021-2024 QS World University Rankings.) Are you interested in working with elite athletes or sporting teams; or do you want to make an essential ...

  7. Coaching and Sport Psychology

    Coaching and Sport Psychology research examines the psycho-social and pedagogical aspects of sport participation from the perspective a variety of actors (e.g. athlete, coaches, officials) in a range of sport physical activity settings. ... Australian Sports Commission: 2021-2024. Mental performance in competition training program for coaches ...

  8. Sport Psychology

    Australia is home to two sport psychology graduate programs directed by world-leading scholars and practitioners. Students may be successful in accessing one of these educational programs that meets their personal needs and interests. ... Sport psychology in Australia: A profession established. Australian Psychologist, 30(2), 128-134. https ...

  9. Sport Psychology International PhD Programs PhD Projects ...

    FindAPhD. Search Funded International PhD Programs in Psychology, Sport Psychology in Sydney. Search for PhD funding, scholarships & studentships in the UK, Europe and around the world.

  10. Sport Psychology (PSYC90108)

    The curriculum is designed around three elements that provide integration throughout the program. These elements are: Sports Medicine Theory & Practice: Critically discuss Sports Psychology approaches in Sports Medicine; including assessment, counselling, motivation, arousal & performance, lifestyle management. Clinical Practice in Context:

  11. What do sports psychologists do?

    Imagine a career where you get to help athletes soar to new heights - both physically and mentally. That's the world of sports psychology. In Australia, where sport is a big part of life for many, sports psychologists play a crucial role. They team up with athletes to boost motivation, improve performance, and strengthen team bonds.

  12. Where Do You Train to Become a Sports Psychologist

    In Australia, aspiring sports psychology career professionals can pursue graduate degrees like a Master of Psychology, concentrating in the area of sport and exercise psychology. These programs deliver in-depth knowledge tailored specifically to the sports domain. Equally vital is gaining real-world experience.

  13. Sports Psychology

    Description. The aim of this subject is to provide a theoretical introduction to sports psychology. Key psychological issues in sport, such as the relationship between personality and sport, aggression and anxiety, are explored. The subject content, readings and online activities will give students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of ...

  14. Sports Psychology: Mind and Body

    Based on this definition, sports psychologists can participate in various activities, mostly focused on working to understand what motivates athletes and how athletes can improve their performance ...

  15. How To Become A Sports Psychologist In Australia?

    Step 2: Complete Post Graduate Qualification. Once you have a three-year undergraduate degree or diploma, you must complete 4th-year studies to get into a Doctorate or a Master of Sports Psychology in Australia. When earning this qualification, you can register as a practising sports psychologist.

  16. Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)

    MPsych (Sport&Exercise) Handbook. ISN Psychology is a FEE HELP approved provider. Tuiton fees are payable upfront or through FEE HELP for eligible students. Census Dates for each Semester are outlined in our Key Dates Page. For more information about tuition fees please contact us (03) 9008 1600.

  17. 11 sport-psychology-PhD positions in Australia

    11 scholarship, research, uni job positions available sport-psychology-PhD positions available on scholarshipdb.net, Australia

  18. Sport psychology News, Research and Analysis

    PhD Researcher, Nature and Function of Human Nonverbal Vocalisations, University of Sussex Richard Keegan Associate Professor in Sport and Exercise Psychology, University of Canberra

  19. Sport and exercise psychologists

    As sport and exercise psychologists, we help with issues such as performance enhancement and mental skill development, anxiety and stress management, mental focus, team building and leadership, health and wellness, communication and conflict resolution, and more. We're also engaged to analyse videos of performances to identify underlying ...

  20. Psychology

    National Network Lead. Alexandra Gorman (Interim) Sport Performance Psychology. Clearinghouse for Sport. Mental Performance in Competition (MPC) Practitioner assessment of mental fatigue. *The Clearinghouse for Sport is the information and knowledge sharing platform for Australian sport.

  21. Sport Psychology

    These modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Sports Psychology. Motivation VBS111. Sports Psychology BPS106. Sports Nutrition BRE303. Elective Modules. In addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 18 modules. Industry Project I BIP000. Anger Management BPS111.

  22. Online Sport Psychology Certificate Course

    In this online sport psychology course you will explore the nature and scope of sports psychology, how to identify psychological traits found in successful athletes, and how to explain how the mind affects athletic performance and discuss ways of maintaining or increasing motivation in sports and exercise. On completion of this course you will ...

  23. Jennifer Grisham: 2024-25 University Research Professor Q&A

    Grisham has generated $15 million in federal funding and $11 million in state funding to support her research and graduate student education. Since 2009, Grisham has supported research and education abroad experiences in Guatemala. She is cofounder of a children's home and preschool program in Guatemala City called Hope for Tomorrow.

  24. Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)

    Doctor Of Psychology Handbook. ISN Psychology is a FEE HELP approved provider. Tuiton fees are payable upfront or through FEE HELP for eligible students. Census Dates for each Semester are outlined in our Key Dates Page. For more information about tuition fees please contact us (03) 9008 1600.

  25. PhD researchers have three minutes to make an impact

    With topics ranging from maritime policy to cancer treatment, marketing to children's health, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidates will spend just three minutes presenting to the audience about their research, using every day, non-expert language. The competition celebrates the exciting and cutting-edge research developed by PhD students ...