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College Athletes’ Psychology: Project Experience Report

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Updated: Jan 1st, 2021

Introduction

The initialization of this project was spurred by an interest in college student-athletes. It is the uniqueness of this group and the nature of issues that face them that encouraged me to individually carry on the research on them. The athletes are not only students but also sports personalities who are expected to balance their lives. In their analysis, they are faced with relationships that are significant in determining how they deal with issues in their lives.

These issues were major in the stress they encounter, academics, and social life. The project thus was focused on evaluating the relationship between how these college athletes deal with stress issues from competing in sports, maintaining good grades, and creating a balance between sports, academics, and social life with the analysis of their time management abilities in this or their lack of it. In this regard, I realized that the coaches not only played a significant role in determining the level of motivation of the college student-athletes but also spent considerable time with them with authority over them.

This necessitated the thesis problem of whether the democratic style of leadership for the coaches would influence the motivation of the college student-athletes and also influence how they deal with stress issues in their lives. The whole project has not only shaped my research abilities but played a significant role in the attainment of skills, competencies, and abilities that are essential in my profession. This paper is basically a reflective and analysis of the project’s influences on me as a professional based on information, skills, and attributes applicable in my professional area of specialization, influences on ethical views and professional practice challenges expected, and professional competences attained and achieved.

Project Reflections

The acknowledgment of the various career opportunities in the field of psychology forms the background of application of this knowledge. The choice of college student-athletes culminates in the areas of sport psychology, exercise psychology, sports nutrition psychology, primary care sector, physical therapists, psychiatry, and general psychology (Lavallee & Jowett, 2007). The project also offered skills, information, spurred specific interests in the profession, all of which are part of the reflections. This section thus shall not only focus on these, but also on the influences on ethical views and professional practice, challenges expected, and professional competences attained and achieved.

Information, Skills, and Attributes Applicable in Area of Specialization

The knowledge, skills, and attributes achieved from this project are very diverse and significant. The project was the actual involvement of research work. This, thus, has increased the knowledge and information I had in the field of sport psychology. Through the use of literature for the project, I achieved a historical background in the subject. This increased the self-understanding of the background of sport psychology as well as the divergent thoughts different researchers have had over the years regarding the topic and how this research has changed over the years.

The literature review carried out also provided knowledge of the theoretical application of the topic of coaching, stress issues, and college athletes. Not only did this provide the understanding of theory research in sport psychology, but it also increased my perspectives of the application of the study. Further, it created a self-understanding of the relationship between the field of study and psychology based on the different perspectives taken by different researchers.

The best practice was revealed in the project. The identification of this enabled me to develop better information on the same. Additionally, it increased my knowledge of the topic and its application. The best practice improved my understanding of professionalism as regards what has been recommended by different researchers. The knowledge basis I had of the college athletes has also been widened and deepened.

This is through the evaluation of the research on them, especially on the stress issues they face and the pressures they have to deal with. This has not only enabled me to appreciate such athletes and professionals geared towards helping them achieve their goals in life but has also increased the interest I had in helping such athletes. This being a research project has also increased my application knowledge of theoretical knowledge and other basic requirements in the process of writing a research paper.

Out of the knowledge received, I have gained new skills while developing and improving on previously learned skills. This was a research project that required the use of an evidence-based approach. This has improved my skills and knowledge in appreciating the other works of research and in broadening my understanding of the topic being in a profession that is based on continuous learning.

The evidence-based research approach has made research work much more objective, informed, and applicable in actual projects work. This is because, out of the learning of different viewpoints on a topic, it is possible to weigh out the divergent opinions, thus coming up with informed recommendations.

For example, out of the review of past researches, I was able to identify the problem of stress facing college athletes, yet different researchers are of the opinion that sports and leisure is a way of coping with stress, while others have an in-depth analysis that even sports can be a stress factor especially out of competition (Kimball & Freysinger, 2003). Evidence-based research also made it possible for me to apply the research done in the context I was dealing with and is to form the dimension of research I will do in my professional work.

The skills and knowledge derived range not only from the sports activity but also in the large scope of psychology application. This is in regard to relationships of the athletes, academics, and with more appreciation to the role of coaches, as well as how psychology applies to other issues such as gambling, alcoholism, and other related behaviors. The research sheds light on the standards of the field of psychology and research, as well as the ethical principles and codes of conduct expected.

Influences on Ethical Views and Professional Practice

My cultural background, attitude, beliefs, and biases are likely to influence the views I posses of ethics as well as professional practice. My cultural background is one where there are gender perceptions regarding certain sports would influence how I deal with such athletes. For instance, baseball is perceived culturally to be for males, yet times have changed with female athletes taking part in the same.

This would have some influence on how I deal with stress, such as athletes, especially advice on whether they should continue or quit the game. Further, the cultural background, as seen in the early years of schooling, emphasized involvement in sports, especially as a way of venting out the emotions one had and as a way of socializing, learning, and coping with stress. This overrides the reality on the ground that the involvement in sports can also be a source of stress, as seen in previous research (Kimball & Freysinger, 2003).

The attitudes have the role of influencing the interest in the work. I have a positive attitude towards sports, and as such, I am likely to get interested in the issues of the athletes. The beliefs and biases I do have stemmed from past experiences and other stories. For example, it is a personal belief that despite the interest one has in sports, academics should be given priority because of the fact that they provide an educational foundation and opportunities to work in other fields.

Further, I have biases towards the level of participation in sports. In this regard, I perceive it okay for college athletes to participate in their sports in their earlier years in college, but to lower their participation and concentrate more on their studies as they advance in the study. Despite the cultural background that education should be given more emphasis than participation in sports, I have the belief that any involvement should be guided by personal interests and goals in life. As such, it is to my interests to see athletes who are convinced of their desire on the same, embark on sports as part of their profession. This thus would influence me to focus more on the talents and advice them accordingly.

Challenges Expected

This field of psychology, more specifically in sports, is characterized by various challenges. These are part of the challenges that I anticipate to deal with in the profession. The field of sport psychology is rather a new one that is expected to serve school-age athletes, coaches, professional athletes, parents, school administration, and other policymakers in education, sport science, and psychology (Tenebaum & Eklund, 2007).

This is a challenge in determining the scope of dealing with each, especially on the application of standards. Sports psychology is also faced with challenges of professionalism. This is because it encompasses various fields such as sports science, education, psychology, and administration of which professional standards interpretation and expectations differ. Further challenges are expected in the field of sport psychology are the issues to do with the differences in the sports thus difference in the scope coverage and also the magnitude of stress-related issues, the limitation of research in the same with much research being very past and with this research being more experiential (Lavallee & Jowett, 2007). This limits the use and application of the same.

The other challenge is of the ethical dilemmas evident in the profession (Tenebaum & Eklund, 2007). The dealing of these challenges is through more participation and contribution through evidence-based research.

Further, I will have to engage in continuous learning and participation in conferences together with other stakeholders with the aims of dealing with these challenges. Additionally, it will be my objective to increase participation and contribution in the field, have a willingness to learn and obtain mentorship from more experienced professionals as well as engage more in other learning to acquire additional skills in counseling and communication skills.

The ethical dilemmas am likely to face more based on conflicting situations and the codes of ethics. These include confidentiality, main objective as well as multiple roles. The codes of conduct require confidentiality when dealing with clients (Tenebaum & Eklund, 2007). This, however, is challenged by the fact that sometimes the situation may be requiring the further intervention of authorities or where the circumstances do not allow for confidentiality.

For instance, when an athlete, especially those in schools, has stress issues, and I discover that he is suicidal, is it confidential in this circumstance to inform the relevant authorities? Additionally, in case a professional athlete discloses that he is involved in drugs and related items and requires confidentiality, at what point is it necessary to inform the authorities? In dealing with the two ethical issues, I would refer them to more experienced professionals in the field and inform them of my limitation to serve them. The coaches may also come up with the idea of bribes so as to access the information for the students; I deal with, to what extent is the access to information limited?

In dealing with these ethical issues, if the athlete paid for the service, he is the one who limits access to such information, while if the coach initiated the service for the athletes, then he has the right to access such information. The other ethical issue is the concern for the main objective. In this case, the health and well being of the athlete is the main aim (Lavallee & Jowett, 2007). This, however, is faced with issues of pressure, especially from coaches, parents, or even the athletes themselves. In dealing with this, I would just have to communicate the risks to the parties and let them make their decision yet seek for further intervention.

Multiple roles can be conflicting, especially in circumstances where the report I give concerning an athlete forms the decision of his/her termination, which I also have to make in some circumstances or where I am dealing with two athletes who are in competing teams. This can be dealt with by ensuring that the decision, especially in matters of termination, is based on the advice and the involvement of other stakeholders. Further, the issue of dealing with competing athletes would require the observation of ultimate confidentiality and objectivity, but in case there is an option of referral, this would be better.

Professional Competencies

The strengths achieved are based on the competencies in the field. The main strengths I have achieved are in dealing with issues to do with time management, stress-related issues, performance pressures, dealing with injuries, communication between coaches and athletes, self-confidence, team building, and training programs. However, I do need more learning in the profiling of athletes, legal issues, and career transition issues, as well as dealing with ethical issues. The action plan regarding this is an emphasis on more training and mentorship.

Conclusion

The project of research has had a significant impact on my personal and professional development. Not only have I been able to gain knowledge, skills, competencies, but I also have been able to deal with my cultural background, attitudes, beliefs, and biases to change how they would affect me professionally. The project has revealed my strengths and also identified the areas where I need more improvement.

Reference List

Kimball, A., & Freysinger, V. (2003). Leisure, Stress, and Coping: The Sport Participation of Collegiate Student-Athletes. Leisure Sciences 25(1), 115- 141.

Lavallee, D., & Jowett, S. (2007). Social Psychology in Sport, volume 10. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Tenebaum, G., & Eklund, R. (2007). Handbook of Sport Psychology. New York: John Wiley and Sons Publications.

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