psychology coaches?

Submitted by Marvin on January 16th, 2012 at 11:15 PM



I heard something on the Finebaum show the other day about Alabama's "psychology coaches" or something to that effect. Does anyone know anything about this? Do most DI programs have psychologically trained folk available to help channel/motivate/calm their players?







January 16th, 2012 at 11:26 PM ^

My girlfriends AD has one that goes around and talks to all of the teams before they get into season and then a few times after. I wouldn't be surprised to see big time programs have them on staff; Alabama/M's football team is a huge investment and I'm sure they try anything they can.


January 16th, 2012 at 11:28 PM ^

About Gibbons, and how he has changed his approach between this year and last.  In the story it mentions how he met with AD psychologists and how that helped him change his mental approach to kicking (along with, of course, brunette girls).  So if my memory on this story serves me right, we do have psychologists on staff for the athletes.


January 17th, 2012 at 12:10 AM ^

I'd be shocked if Michigan didn't have a sport psychologist on staff. I'm a clinical psychologist at  JMU (at the counseling center) and I'm the Athletics Liaison. We have four people in the Sport Psychology Department: the sport psychologist (meets with student-athletes to focus on on-field issues and does team building/goal-setting), the former football coach (started our football program, was trained in sport psychology and has similar duties), a grad assistant (meets with a few teams), and myself (when the primary issue is related to off-field or personal stuff).

When I was doing my grad work at Arizona State I worked closely with their sport psychologist (employed half time by Athletics, half time by counseling center) and got to work with some athletes there. When I was a predoctoral  intern at UMaine's counseling center  (smaller school than the other two) I got to work with some athletes/teams because of my interest/training, and they didn't have anyone outside the counseling center to provide those services.

So yes, most decent sized programs will have at least one person with sport psychology training, if not more. I also tought a course at JMU on sport psychology that was primarily for students minoring in coaching. A lot of sport psych concepts (team building, goal setting, managing stress, imagery, relaxation, etc) are now ingrained in courses for future coaches, though I guess such courses wouldn't be available everywhere since most coaches traditionally get where they are through experience rather than coursework.

And yes, I also remember hearing the story about Tom Brady forming a solid relationship with a sport psychologist. I think it may have been part of the 30 for 30 special?

In any case, lots of research has shown that practicing sport psychology can make a huge difference in performance. A friend of mine and former colleague is one of many sport psychologists working for the Olympic Team, and my buddy at ASU has worked with a number of pro athletes on the side. I'm hoping to get into the same niche eventually.


January 17th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^

Sure thing, man. You can hit me up at rfasman at gmail.

It's still a somewhat new and budding field, and AFAIK there are still only a handful of programs designed for specifically for sport psych. Most sport psychologists went through clinical or counseling PhD programs and sought out relevant coursework and experience, but there are a few programs designed especially for that purpose. Since I went through the former route, I don't know a ton about the latter, but would be glad to help however I can. Another option is to get a masters in sport psychology, though if you do that then technically you're a "sport psychology consultant" rather than a "sport psychologist." But I know lots of people in the field practice without a doctoral degree, and it's not necessary unless you want to teach or get involved in the clinical/off-field stuff.


January 17th, 2012 at 12:59 AM ^

I'm currently in the second year of my Psy.D.(Google it), at an APA accredited program in Chicago. There are sports psychologists who primarily address issues surrounding mental health in sports, e.g. performance anxiety (kickers, and QB's often). In line with this specialization, there are many techniques which may be used in the setting this discussion focuses on. One form of this comes from motivational psychology, which is impart based on rephrasing what players say in a more positive manner. This is rooted in the Cognitive-Behavioral approach. For example, if a player says, "this is too hard" one would re-frame this by saying, "It may appear to be difficult,  but I believe you are capable" This reframing helps to keep the individual positive and therefore motivated, thus increasing their drive, and performance.


January 17th, 2012 at 1:04 AM ^

Pretty sure Tom George (head of Sport Management progam/Kines chair) has been a psychology advisor for a few of the M sports teams. At least that's what I think I remember he told my Sport Psychology class last year.