Study sports management and psychology

It’s a fine line between defeat and victory, goes the saying. With a summer full of sport at the 2012 London Olympics and the Ryder Cup, we meet the people charged with giving sportspeople that extra edge.

Sport used to be a simple concept. If you were the strongest, the quickest or the most skilful, then you won. However, modern day sport is so competitive that athletes are striving for the smallest advantage – whether that is physical or mental.""

Sports psychology

However, these tricks don’t just come out of thin air. Many teams and athletes employ dedicated sports psychologists, whose job it is to assess the mental strengths and weaknesses of their team – and those of the opposition.

“These days it is widely accepted that the psychological aspects of sports performance are just as, if not more, important than the physical aspects in allowing sports teams and athletes to perform to their best,” says Dr Andrew Manley, programme director of Leeds Metropolitan’s MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology course.

“By matching appropriate techniques to the specific needs of the team or athlete - such as developing a pre-performance routine to help the athlete feel confident prior to a big event or setting goals to ensure teams work together to achieve an ultimate target – sport psychologists use evidence-based principles that can improve not only the sporting performance of an athlete, but also their general approach, training and preparation,” adds Dr Manley.

Sports management

If a career micromanaging sports professionals isn’t for you, then you could consider a degree in sports management. From managing a golf course, running a global event like the Olympics and everything in between, this is the perfect degree for those wanted to get involved in sport – but without the sporting talent.

Sports management degrees focus on the business and services end of sport. You’ll learn about the challenges involved in delivering sporting events and working in this specialised industry, from marketing to planning.

Pay and progression

Sports management and psychology degrees can lead to lucrative careers for the successful. Lower level sports teams are beginning to see the value of sports psychology and so jobs are on the increase.

Newly-qualified graduates can expect a starting salary of around £28,000, which can rise quickly with experience.

For those in sports management and administration, earning potential can be massive if you get to work in senior positions at large clubs and companies like Manchester United or sporting bodies like the PGA.

This is an industry where expertise and experience are highly sought after.

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