Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE Courses

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What is Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE?

Sports psychology is the study of how psychological factors influence sports, athletic performance, exercise, and physical activity.

Sports psychologists investigate how participating in sports can improve health and well being. They also help athletes utilize psychology to improve their sports performance and mental well-being.

A coach is someone who instructs and works with students or with adult clients to prepare them for anything from performing at their peak in recreational or professional sports, to developing skills that will help a person achieve life and career goals.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE in the following subject areas:

  • BSc (Hons) Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE – Full Time – Explore cognitive, motor and emotional theories and how these impact an athlete’s performance, learn to apply sport psychology when working with athletes, coaches, parents regarding injury, rehabilitation, team building and career transitions.
  • Sports Psychology – Gain an understanding of the psychological aspects of sport and the skills and knowledge to understand and help change the behaviours of athletes in order to improve performance.
  • FETAC Level 5 Award in Sports Coaching – This module provides learners with the ability to plan, implement and evaluate a programme of coaching to cater for the needs of competitive sports.
  • Sports Management and Coaching – Gain the social, communication and leadership skills to work with individuals and groups in the growing sports coaching and health and fitness areas.
  • Diploma in Sports & Exercise Psychology – This course is relevant to those interested and involved in the sport and leisure industry.
  • Sports, Recreation & Exercise – This one-year part-time QQI Level 5 Major Award in Sports, Recreation and Exercise is a broad Sports and Leisure course that will enable students to demonstrate and apply a range of skills and knowledge in a variety of Sports and Recreation contexts.
  • Sports & Recreation Studies – This course will explore the history and growth of Sports and Recreation, how it has developed over time and how it is now an integrated part of Irish society.

Studying Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE

There are many courses in Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of sport and exercise psychologist.

Your focus within the field of Sports Psychology, Coaching and PE will typically be the behaviours, mental processes and wellbeing of individuals, teams and organisations involved in sport and exercise. Typically, you’ll specialise in either sport or exercise, although some work across both fields.

Specialising in sport psychology you’ll work with athletes and teams involved in sport from amateur to elite professional level, with the aim of helping them deal psychologically with the demands of the sport. You’ll also help them improve their personal development and performance.

Working as an exercise psychologist you’ll work with the general public to increase motivation and participation in exercise, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and advising on the psychosocial benefits that exercise can offer.

Work environments vary depending on the client and could include an office base within a university campus, GP surgery or hospital, or field settings such as the athletes’ village at major sports events, the team training base or employers’ premises. Some sport psychologists work as private consultants or work full time for professional sports teams or national governing bodies of sport.

Working hours for practitioners vary depending on the client and the nature of the sport. Although you would generally work office hours, evening or weekend work may also be required to fit in with training and sports competitions. Hours within education or healthcare settings are mainly 9 am to 5 pm.

Related jobs include:

  • Sports Psychologist
  • Sports coach
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Fitness centre manager
  • Personal trainer
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Sports administrator
  • Sports development officer
  • Sports therapist
  • Choreographer
  • Clinical scientist
  • Health improvement practitioner
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Nutritionist
  • Outdoor activities/education manager
  • Sport and exercise psychologist

Further study

After completing a course in Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology and psychology.


What is the importance of Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE?

Sport psychologists, coaches and physical education educators help athletes and students to enhance their sports performances. Various mental strategies, such as visualisation, self-talk and relaxation techniques can help athletes overcome obstacles, achieve their full potential and cope with the pressures of competition.

What are some skills and procedures that may be utilised in Sports Psychology and Coaching?

Many strategies and procedures are used to address problems faced by athletes and other sports participants.

  • Cognitive and behavioural skills training for performance enhancement such as goal setting; imagery and performance planning; concentration and attention control strategies; development of self-confidence, self-esteem and competence in sports; cognitive-behavioural self-regulation techniques; emotion management, sportsmanship and leadership skills.
  • Counselling and clinical interventions such as athletic motivation; eating disorders and weight management; substance abuse; grief, depression, loss and suicide; over-training and burnout; aggression and violence; athletic injury and rehabilitation; career transitions and identity crises.
  • Consultation and training methods such as team building; sports organization consultation; systems interventions with parents and families involved in youth sports participation; education of coaches regarding motivation, interpersonal and leadership skills and talent development; education of coaches and administrators regarding early identification and prevention of psychological difficulties.

Where can I study Sports Psychology, Coaching & PE?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

  • In 1875, Pyotr Francevich Lesgaft started a system of physical education. Lesgaft was a Russian scientist who studied the human body. His aim was to promote harmony between the body and soul or mind. The method Lesgaft suggested was to learn conscious control of the body; being able to think about controlling the body and then actually doing it.
  • In 1896, a French doctor named Charles du Pasquier published an article about how sports could help people with depression.
  • According to the World’s Sports Encyclopaedia, there are over 8000 sports. The oldest sports in the world are thought to be wrestling, running, javelin throwing, polo and hockey.
  • In the 1928 Olympics, Australian rower Bobby Pearce won his race against eight others, even though he stopped to let ducks pass him during the race.
  • Ben Smith holds the world record for the most consecutive marathons, having run 401 marathons in 401 days, covering 10,506 miles altogether.

Mariza Halliday

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