It is common for individual sports people to employ the services of a psychologist outright. They know that the best results will always be obtained when the same person is able to work with them for an extended period of time. The psychologist will put a system into play at the start of their association, and will then be able to review the results over the coming months. It is not so much results in competition which are important, but the entire attitude to practicing, to maintaining health and fitness, and to making sure that the body is in the optimum condition whenever competition is about to take place.
One of the most important skills in applied sports psychology is the ability to visualize and to make mental pictures in the mind. This has been proven during previous trials in which basketball teams which had only done visualization and mental training were matched against those who had carried out physical practicing. While the physical practicing was proven to be more effective, the difference was minimal. By applying the benefits of this mental practicing while you are also engaged in a standard regime of physical practice, you can make it even more effective. These are vital skills for the sports psychologist.
Those who are able to apply sports psychology at the highest level are the ones who have been prepared to go through the extensive program of training, including four years at a university. A doctorate degree is virtually essential if you want to work at the highest level, as there is no time for any employer or anyone engaging a psychologist to train them or to offer any additional support. You need to be able to hit the ground running and work at the highest level right from the first day, and you need expertise to be able to devise customized programs.
As time goes by effective examples of applied sports psychology become easier to find. The winners of virtually every top flight sporting event are now using these techniques, and in nearly every case they are being taught by a full time professional.