Advertising and Marketing Psychology Business Psychology CLINICal Psychology Criminal Psychology Death and Dying Psychology P S Y C H O L O G Y I N A C T I O N

Family Psychology Media Psychology

Performance Psychology Rehabilitation Psychology

School Psychology Sports Psychology


By David Wilson Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP, Consultant


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Introduction: What Is Psychology? .............................. 6 Chapter 1: Becoming a Sports Psychologist ............... 10 Chapter 2: History and Development of the Field ...... 26 Chapter 3: Common and Unusual Issues ................... 42 Chapter 4: HowPsychology Helps ............................. 58 Chapter 5: Takeaways for Everyday Life . .................. 74 Series Glossary of Key Terms ...................................... 90 Further Reading & Internet Resources ...................... 93 Index . ............................................................................. 94 Author’s Biography and Credits ................................. 96 KEY I CONS TO LOOK FOR : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase readers’ understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

What Is Psychology? When we look up the meaning of the word psychology , we learn that it comes from two Greek words—“psyche,” which means “mind,” and “logia,” which means “the study of.” Hence, psychology is “the study of the mind.” (Merriam-Webster.com) Essentially, psychology aims to study and better understand emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, with the goal of benefiting society. Those who choose to study psychology generally have a strong urge to help others, though the definition of “others” can vary across concentric circles of influence, from the individual to the family and then on to broader systems such as a school, neighborhood, or society. That urge to help and understand people and their behavior is perhaps the most basic motivator that leads an individual to want to pursue the study of psychology. Some describe psychology as a “hub science” to depict the way that it links to the social sciences, the natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities. In university settings, however, psychology is considered a social science. Social sciences deal with the study of human behavior in its social and cultural aspects. They include fields such as anthropology, sociology, political science, history, education, and economics. These fields are certainly diverse, and yet one can see the commonality: these disciplines all teach us more about how the individual and society interact and influence each other. Another important distinction is the one between psychology and psychiatry. Simply put, psychologists pursue


Sports Psychology

graduate level degrees (master’s or doctorate) in psychology, whereas psychiatrists complete medical school prior to specializing in psychiatry. After medical school (and receiving an MD degree), there are three years of psychiatry training to become an adult psychiatrist. If they want to specialize further (such as in child and adolescent psychiatry or forensics), there is additional training in this specialty field for several years and then they must take a board examination to become certified in their specialty area. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, and psychologists cannot (although in some rural or underserved areas this is an option for psychologists). Psychiatrists are also uniquely suited to understand biological or medical contributions to mental illness. On the other hand, some day-to-day practices of psychiatrists do not look that different from those of psychologists. What does studying psychology entail? There are so many options! Within psychology, there are multiple fields of study. Some of them you will learn about in these volumes, but it would take far too many volumes to cover all of them. If you’re interested in exploring more about psychology beyond this series, you might consider developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and comparative psychology. Developmental psychology is the study of development throughout a person’s life, from infancy through old age. Some of the more famous developmental psychologists have been Jean Piaget, who identified stages for the development of cognition in children, and B. F. Skinner, who studied the process of learning and taught us about the concepts of operant and classical conditioning. Another field, cognitive psychology, studies human thought: one famous psychologist in this field is Noam Chomsky, who studied the development of language. Comparative psychologists study animal behavior, and in this area Konrad



Lorenz studied the process by which baby geese “imprint” on the first object they see after birth. If you Google Professor Lorenz, you may see pictures of goslings following him around the yard. Although there are many ways to cluster the various subfields of psychology, one common distinction is between clinical and nonclinical applications, sometimes also referred to as applied psychology vs. basic research . Clinical or applied psychology focuses on understanding and treating psychiatric disorders that challenge day-to-day functioning. Treatment is derived from an evidence base that assesses outcomes or the ways that a treatment is effective. Establishing an evidence base is an important aspect of the work of a psychologist. Some devote their careers to this work, which can overlap with nonclinical or research applications. Researchers use scientific methods to advance knowledge in the field in a variety of topics. These psychologists work in academic settings as well as industry and organizations. Why would you want to become a psychologist or even to study psychology? The field of psychology has countless applications to everyday life, and as such, it can be a jumping off point for many careers. The reader will learn about different psychology careers in these volumes. What’s more, as a major in college, psychology can be applied to a variety of careers outside of psychology, such as human resources, teaching, criminal justice, and many others. For those who have the option to take an elective psychology course in high school, it can be a wonderful opportunity to get a jump start on the weighty decision of what to major in and to see whether the subject matter interests you. In writing this introduction, I can give you a window into a personal choice. I am a child clinical psychologist and have devoted my career to helping children and their families. I work


Sports Psychology

in an academic medical center, which means that although I do clinical work, I also teach and supervise psychology students at many phases of their career. In addition, I write for various venues and conduct applied research into the outcomes of the treatment we provide. I am also an administrator, and as such I attend to aspects of psychology as a “business”: hiring and training those who do the work in our setting and tracking our budget, to name a few examples. One of the best things about this career is that every day is different, and yet the common experience is of helping others. In producing this series, we hope that we can provide a window into the varied choices you can make with a degree in psychology. From professor to therapist, working with toddlers or the elderly, teaching business psychology or conducting family therapy, there is likely at least one application of the subject of psychology that will appeal to you. I hope the exploration is rewarding!

Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP Clinical Director Children’s Partial Hospital Program Clinical Professor Alpert Medical School of Brown University



Sports psychology is one of the youngest disciplines of psychology. WORDS TO UNDERSTAND

Credentials: Demonstrated achievements or certifications necessary for a particular career. Personnel: Employees of an organization. Prerequisite: Knowledge, action, or achievement needed for another process. Protocol: A guideline, rule, or method of the highest importance. Viable: Practical, applicable, survivable.


Becoming a Sports Psychologist

One of the youngest disciplines of psychology, sports psychology has only become a viable career within the last several decades. However, as more and more psychological applications have demonstrated their value to athletes on the field, court, or rink, teams across many different sports have responded by hiring sports psychologists to help their players and coaches develop a winning mental approach to the game. Sports is a big business, after all: the most popular professional sports teams in the United States are valued at over one billion dollars each, while the highest-paid athletes can earn millions of dollars per year. In competitive activities like sports, a small advantage can result in many wins, meaning that teams are eager to find new ways to motivate and inspire their players, and to help their stars reach even greater heights. As our understanding of “sports” evolves, furthermore, to include competitions such as video games or relatively new sports like pickleball, these psychologists must adapt to provide new insights and help players develop better


All sports psychologists must complete graduate-level schooling in psychology.


Sports Psychology

skillsets. Sports psychologists have the unique opportunity to be a member of the team, helping athletes to reach higher levels, even if the psychologists do not have to break a sweat. Starting Off: Undergraduate and Graduate School Some professional psychologists face a relatively brief pathway toward beginning a career in their field. That, however, is not the case for sports psychologists, who will require many years of education and training before they can provide professional advice and receive compensation. While a handful of positions related to sports psychology, like physical trainers, may not need much of an education at all beyond specialized training, a sports psychologist must complete nearly a decade of education. Like other psychologists, they first require a college degree. A two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology are usually a fundamental first step on the pathway toward this career, given that it will help a future psychologist to understand everything from the scientific protocols of psychology to the application of psychological research. Given that some schools specifically provide an undergraduate degree in sports psychology, this can provide an excellent beginning for someone who is interested in this career. Even a lower level degree in psychology may not always be a requirement, because all sports psychologists must complete graduate-level schooling in psychology, and some graduate schools will accept students with a previous background in a similar field, such as sociology or sports science. A double major may be helpful but is also more stressful. Regardless of degree choice, any incoming graduate student to a psychology programmust have the necessary coursework prerequisites so that they understand the methods needed in advanced study; an undergraduate degree in psychology will fulfill the prerequisites. Undergraduate

Chapter 1: Becoming a Sports Psychologist


Sports psychology students may take courses in anatomy.

students will only be admitted to a graduate program in psychology if they have strong grades, achievements, and letters of recommendation, meaning that only the most successful students advance to the next level. Any sports psychology job posting will require that applicants undergo graduate-level schooling in psychology. That could entail a master’s degree (MS), a doctoral degree (PhD), or a doctor of psychology degree (PsyD). Sports psychology programs have increased in popularity in recent years, and many major schools provide these specific courses of study. While the specific school chosen for an undergraduate degree is not as important, the choice of school for graduate-level coursework


Sports Psychology

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