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Sport Psych is on the same 'Career Path' as Strength Training.

Wait... What does that even mean?

If I walk out on the street and start asking random people what sport psychology is, or if they have ever heard of it, I am most likely going to receive a bunch of confused looks and negative answers. This is because most of the 'general public' has no idea what sport psychology or mental skills training is and they don't believe it is something worth doing.

This lack of information or wide misunderstanding isn't something that is unique to sport psychology, however. Let's rewind the clock a few decades and simulate this same scenario in 1980. I walk out on the street and start asking random people what strength training is, or if they think athletes should be weight training. I am going to receive the same types of answers;

"Athletes don't need that."

"What's the point of getting bigger."

"Just work on the fundamentals instead."

"This is a waste of time."

But look at athletes and athletics now, 40 years later. Every professional, collegiate, and most high school athletes in America today are on some form of strength training program. During the 1980's many of the best athletes in the world began to recognize the benefits of strength training. They learned that it was beneficial for them to work out and become bigger, faster, and stronger because it made them perform better in their particular sport. And that was just the start of the snowball...

Pros started strength training and upped their game, which trickled down into college athletics who wanted to keep pace with the pros. Then over the years it spread down into high school athletic programs who wanted to prepare their kids for the collegiate level. Now today, we see kids as young as 10-12 years old on different forms of strength training programs. This has all happened because a group of professional athletes realized the benefits of strength training some 40 years ago.

So how exactly is sport psychology mirroring this path to prominence?

Throughout the late 1990's and early 2000's we started seeing much more talk about the mental aspect of sports at the highest levels. This led some of the top athletes in the world to begin working with sport psychologists and mental coaches as discussed in our previous blog post: Who Uses a Sport Psychologist?

This started a similar snowball effect to the one associated with strength training. Many pro athletes began working with their own personal 'mental coaches', leading to these same coaches being employed by teams and organizations so everyone would have access to the coach.

Now, every single MLB team has a sport psychologist on staff. Every NFL organization has sport psychologists employed. Every major Division I athletic department has a sport psychologist and sport psychology department. Many college programs across different divisions employ sport psychologists. Larger high schools such as IMG Academy have an entire sport psychology department, and many high school departments across the country are beginning to hire sport psychologist among their athletic departments.

The wave of athletes using sport psychologists and mental strength coaches is still young, but the snowball is growing larger every year that passes. If these skills are being taught and utilized at the professional levels of sport, why aren't they also being taught and utilized at the lower collegiate and high school levels?

I believe that within the next decade, sport psychology will look a lot more similar to strength training. Every athlete in the country will be working with a sport psychologist in some capacity, but like they are with their strength and conditioning coaches right now.

These skills and techniques have been shown to improve performance on the field and will continue to grow in popularity until every athlete in sports in learning and utilizing these skills to become the best athlete and best person they can be.



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