sports psychologist should be able to educate and athletes in
effort to enhance the athlete's psychological skills. Most sports
psychologists educated in exercise science are only trained to
deal performance enhancing issues rather than more problematic
personal issues. Examples of problems in performance that a sports
psychologist would assist might include: competition anxiety,
poor self-talk, motivation issues, and burnout (Heyman, 1993).
The sports psychologist may work directly with the athletes,
one-on-one or in a group, or with the coach. Generally, it is
not appropriate for sports psychologists to engage in the areas
of clinical psychology and coaching without further credentials
There seems to be a lack of applied sports psychology programs
in northern America, which adequately select and train consultants.
The available programs are typically university academic programs
and provide little or no training for consultation work in the
field (Orlick & Partington, 1987). Orlick & Partington
(1987) suggest guided field experience to teach athletes and
coaches relevant mental skills.
Sports psychologists who spent more one-on-one time with higher
ranked athletes were perceived to have a greater applied impact
than those athletes who were lesser ranked and spent minimal
time with the sports psychologist. The best sports psychologists
were perceived to have the following characteristics:
More applied and less theoretical course work should be presented
in applied sports psychology programs. Students should be encouraged
or even be required to practice and present a variety of psychological
techniques in group and individual sports settings. Programs
must be developed to incorporate cooperation between collegiate
athletic programs and applied sports psychology programs. Additional
training should include some sort of internship with a successful
applied sports psychologist. Following practice sessions, students
could obtain valuable feedback from both the athlete and the
over looking supervisor (Orlick & Partington, 1987).
The characteristics of excellent consultants in the Orlick
& Partington (1987) study outline above are a desirable profile
for a sports psychologist. Formal training may be of a lesser
issue, especially since most sports psychologist apparently learn
a great deal of their skills away from the classroom (Orlick
& Partington, 1987). From an athlete's perspective, the practical
training of the sports psychologist is of the greatest importance.