Novitiate Sport Psychers: Differentiate Between Profane Emotion and Caring Regard

May is here and novitiate sport psychers are about to hit the sports world with newly embossed masters and doctoral degrees in hand.  The PSPS gang is aging… and has been successfully working with athletes on the mental side of the game in one form or the other for almost two decades.  Time for our somewhat annual thoughts for newly minted sport psych practitioners.  I’ll take the first crack:

Give Before You Try to Get  Sport psychology may not always look like traditional teaching or counseling, but the fact remains that it is a helping profession.  Wharton School management professor Adam Grant examines the role of giving is his now book Givers vs. Takers.  The bottom line is that giving is valuable.  The goals of sport psychology are to help individuals find their potential on (and off of) the playing field.  To be able to serve as this resource, it strikes me that generosity is at the core of an athlete-center approach to service.

Look to Learn Before Asking for a Job  It can be quite off putting when a young professional asks me if I have a job for them.  The request leaves me wondering if they have any sense of my approach, philosophies, and experiences.  A request for a job without a discussion leaves me little opportunity to be generous and support the young professional in any genuine way.  Fielding an unsolicited job application feels to me much like an ATM transaction – insert the card and if there is enough money in the account bills roll out, if not I hit the gas and drive on my way.  Cold, unemotional, and purely transactional.  Some of the best professional work has come out of discussions that are simply curious and growth focused.  Listen to stories and share stories.

Fandom and Passion for Performance are Different  The analysis and talk of fans are great fodder for sports radio and barbeques, but they are not professional.  They can actually be cruel and grossly misinformed.  Working in sport psychology and player development can be fun, but it is work and is actually not terribly glamorous.  Be thrilled when you see a client stepping on the field for the first time as a collegiate athlete.  Enjoy the excitement of the lights dimming, music rising, and athletes bursting onto the field of play.  Yet set your fandom aside, be a pro and show unconditional positive regard for the athletes, coaches, and athletes with whom you interact.

Sports is a funny place to work and thrive.  Take time to step back from the profane emotions of sport and get in touch art of caring and thriving professionally.



4 Responses to “Novitiate Sport Psychers: Differentiate Between Profane Emotion and Caring Regard”

  1. 1 Rolf May 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Great piece, but I would also add: practice what you preach and work the process. Starting out as a professional is SO tough and it takes a process focused approach to see real long lasting results.

    • 2 AHNaylor May 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Absolutely. Check out some of the thoughts from past years, I’m sure you’ll see this theme throughout. If the sport psycher can’t trust the process, how could he/she teach it to the athlete? A real gut check.

  2. 3 pete olusoga May 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Great article. I’m just about to post an interview I did with a trainee sport psych who’s just finished his Master’s degree.

  3. 4 kickittraining May 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks. You said it so well. The things you highlight here can serve as a guide to all of us who work in athlete development no matter the field.

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