What Does a Sports Counselor Do?

Psychology and counseling students who are interested in athletics may wonder about becoming a sports counselor.

Entry-level sports counseling generally involve working with children in school and after-school programs. Advanced sports counseling actually involves sports psychology, which is a very distinct field that promises academically inclined students a fast-paced career in the world of sports.

What is Sports Psychology?

Sports psychology is an applied field that studies how psychological factors affect athletic performance and how sports affect an athletes' psychological persona.

Sports psychology studies personality, coaching, performance and team dynamics. For instance, a sport psychologist may perform research to isolate personality traits that contribute to or detract from athletic performance. Then again, they might also consult with a coach whose team is experiencing poor group cohesion and cooperation. A sports counselor is a kind of psychologist who provides special services to athletes and coaches.

What Does an Entry-Level Sports Counselor Do?

Students who are just starting their journey becoming a sports counselor typically work for schools, non-profits, day camps and organizations that provide athletic services to children and teens. Their responsibilities include supervising groups of children, teaching athletic techniques and actively participating in all programs. They assist children in developing social, physical and athletic skills. They also act as mediators and help children learn to behave properly. They model important athletic values such as respect, persistence and hard work. They may work as an assistant coach for athletic teams.

Entry-level sports counselors must have knowledge and experience in preparing, organizing and leading athletic activities and programs. They should have previous experience working with diverse demographic groups. They must also possess excellent judgment and sensitivity towards safety. Most entry-level sports counselors are former high school or college athletes who are interested in applied teaching and physical education.

What Does an Senior-Level Sports Counselor Do?

Senior-level sports counselors are psychology graduates that work for higher education or formal athletic organizations. They provide clinical services to student athletes under the direction of a licensed sports psychologist. Their primary job is to assist the sports psychologist with providing student-athletes with psychological assessments, psychotherapy treatments and clinical counseling. They work with the sports psychologist to help athletes overcome psychological performance obstacles, such as anger, anxiety and even eating disorders. They often coordinate with staff and athletes to manage cases and treatment plans. They also assist the athletic team managers with team building and team dynamics.

The minimal educational requirement for a senior-level sports counselor is a master's degree in psychology or social work with a professional mental health license. The ideal qualifications include a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology from an institution accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Both entry-level and senior-level sports counselors should be AASP certified.

What is the AASP?

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) is the premier certification agency for sports counselors and fitness trainers. The AASP offers two types of certifications: standard for master degree holders and provisional for doctoral degree holders. AASP certification demonstrates that the sports counselor is a competent professional who will provide quality service to the public. It also indicates the sports counselor's commitment to quality control and knowledge of exercise and sports psychology.

All things considered, becoming a sports counselor will allow the individual to work one-on-one with athletics to overcome their performance problems, excel in sports and achieve success in life.