Every performer strives to be their best. And while all are familiar with the physical side of performance, the most important part of performance is often forgotten or overlooked.

what is

Sport Psychology?

Every performer strives to be their best. And while all are familiar with the physical side of performance, the most important part of performance is often forgotten or overlooked.

Sport psychology is the practice of helping athletes and performers reach their full potential through the mental side of performance. While sport psychology can indeed help athletes elevate performance on game day, the benefits of sport psychology also transcend to everyday factors and situations in life.

APA definition: Sport psychology is a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations. APA recognizes sport psychology as a proficiency acquired after a doctoral degree in one of the primary areas of psychology and licensure as a psychologist. This proficiency does not include those who have earned a doctoral degree in sport psychology but are not licensed psychologists.


What Are Common Reasons To

Utilize Sport Psychology?

No two people seek sport psychology services for the same reason, but the following are common reasons why someone may seek sport psychology services.

It’s important to note that sport psychology is comprised of both mental performance and mental health. In addition to skills like the ones above, Premier’s team provides mental health care services to performers of all levels and ages. Read below to learn more about the two fields of study that make up sport psychology.

“Sport Psychology” is comprised of two general fields of study:

Performance-enhancement psychology emphasizes the use of mental skills training (e.g., goal setting, imagery, energy management, self-talk) and works to educate clients on how to use these skills effectively during performance. To provide performance enhancement services, an individual’s graduate training will often include coursework in kinesiology, exercise physiology and/or sport science, but does not include extensive training in counseling/clinical psychology, therefore individuals solely trained in performance psychology are not licensed psychologists; however they will often seek certification by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) as a certified consultant.

Clinical/Counseling psychology applies psychological theories to counseling interventions with performers/athletes and focuses on treating psychological problems, such as stress, depression/anxiety, relationship issues, substance abuse, and/or eating disorders. Clinical and counseling sport psychologists are licensed by law, and are therefore legally allowed to use the term “psychologist” in their title. While these individuals are trained in graduate psychology programs, many obtain additional education and training in performance-enhancement psychology and do practicums in sport and exercise settings. They too can seek additional certification by (AASP) as a certified consultant, but it is not required.

Professionals within sport psychology are either Licensed Psychologists or certified by a sport psychology organization (e.g., AASP). People without these credentials who claim to offer sport psychology services may not have received proper training or supervision in the field, and thus may not be able to provide quality service. Anyone seeking consultations should always ask about the professional’s credentials, education, consulting experience, clientele, and current membership in professional organizations.

What is a

Sport Psychologist?

Premier’s team is comprised of sport psychologists, mental performance consultants, and athletic counselors. Each of our providers comes from a highly-trained background and has experience working with athletes ranging from youth to high-level collegiate and professional athletes.

A Sport Psychologist is an individual who has completed a Doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Psy.D.) in the field of counseling or clinical psychology, is licensed by the state of Minnesota to practice psychology (L.P.-Licensed Psychologist) and has additional expertise and training in the following areas:

Psychological skills training

Mental health of athletes

Team dynamics in sport settings

Psychological factors that influence performance

Assessment of psychological and performance variables

“Applied sport psychology is the study and application of psychological principles of human performance to help athletes consistently perform in the upper range of their capabilities, and more thoroughly enjoy the performance process. Applied sport psychologists are uniquely trained and specialized to engage in a broad range of activities including the identification, development, and execution of the mental and emotional knowledge, skills, and abilities required for excellence in athletic domains; the understanding, and prevention of the psychological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and psychophysiological inhibitors of consistent, excellent performance; and the improvement of athletic contexts to facilitate more efficient development, consistent execution, and positive experiences in athletes.” (American Psychological Association Division 47 Practice Committee, 2011).

How to

choose a provider?

Each of Premier’s world class providers comes from a unique background. We encourage you to get to know our team, each provider’s background, and the areas that they specialize in. Not sure who would be the best fit? Give us a call and we can talk through options.

Each sport psychology consultant possesses a specific set of skills that defines the scope of his or her competencies. There are hundreds of “mental game coaches,” “sport psychology consultants,” and “sport psychotherapists,” but none of these individuals are Sport Psychologists. In order to be called a Sport Psychologist, an individual must be licensed to practice psychology in the state in which they work (see WHAT IS SPORT PSYCHOLOGY) AND they must meet the American Psychological Association-Division 47 “Proficiency in Sport Psychology” educational and training standards (see APA-DIV 47 standards).  They may also choose to seek additional certification by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

1. Is the individual licensed to practice psychology? In MN, they need to be licensed by the Minnesota Board of Psychology.

2. Did the individual receive specialized training in sport psychology AND counseling/clinical psychology as demonstrated by graduate work, training, supervised practicum experiences, degree and licensure? Ask the professional to see proof of licensure and/or references to check professional training background.