Certificate in Sports Psychology

Study a certificate in sports coaching or sports psychology at home, learning the psychology of sports by distance education to work as a sports coach, personal trainer or fitness instructor.

Course CodeVPS019
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Study Sports Psychology at home

Sports Psychology is the science that examines the individual's psychology and their participation in sport. A person's state of mind can have a dramatic influence on their sporting performance. Looking at the interactions between psychology and sporting performance can give us great insight into tools and techniques to select and coach athletes to victory - whatever that might be for them.

 Sports psychologists provide two major types of services –

  • Counselling – in areas that affect the athlete. 
  • Develop strategies that enhance performance.
Examples of the type of work they may be involved in
  • Helping elite athletes and sports persons to develop strategies to deal with competition and training.
  • Helping coaches and managers in their communication and interpersonal skills
  • Working with health promotion staff to increase the motivation to exercise and maintain the exercise in individuals who are mainly sedentary.
  • Using research to maximise practice and fitness regimes.
  • Counselling individuals who have been injured.
  • Advising younger sports persons on how to deal with family, problems, disappointment, homesickness etc.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Sports Psychology.
 Motivation VBS111
 Sports Psychology BPS106
 Sports Nutrition BRE303
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 18 modules.
 Industry Project BIP000
 Anger Management BPS111
 Biopsychology I BPS108
 Counselling Skills I BPS109
 Health & Wellbeing VRE102
 Human Nutrition I BRE102
 Introduction to Psychology BPS101
 Leadership BBS110
 Personal Energy Management VRE105
 Research Project I BGN102
 Sports Coaching VRE109
 Developmental Psychology BPS210
 Human Nutrition II BRE202
 Nutrition for Weight Loss BRE210
 Human Nutrition III BRE302
 Life Coaching BPS305
 Neuropsychology BPS306
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302

Note that each module in the Certificate in Sports Psychology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What Does a Successful Athlete Look Like?

The 4 Cs are generally considered important characteristics for the successful athlete.

Concentration - Able to maintain focus

Confidence - Belief in our own abilities

Control - Able to maintain our emotional control, ignoring distraction.

Commitment - The ability to continue to strive towards agreed goals.


This is the mental ability that enables us to focus on the current task. If a sportsperson lacks concentration, then they will not effectively and efficiently apply their athletic abilities to the task at hand. There are two main types of attention –


Broad/Narrow spectrum – For example, the athlete is able to focus on a large or small number of stimuli.

Internal/External spectrum – For example, the athlete can focus on external stimuli, such as the ball, or internal stimuli, such as their feelings. 

 The level and type of concentration required varies from sport to sport. For example –

  •  Sustained concentration may be required for cycling, long distance running etc.
  •  Short concentration bursts may be required for golf, shooting etc.
  •  Intense concentration may be required for skiing or sprinting etc.


  • Mistakes
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Weather
  • Coach
  • Opponent
  • Manager
  • The crowd
  • Public announcements
  • Negative thoughts
  • Low self-esteem
  • Pain
  • Other

The following dispositions are broad characteristics that are often associated with elite sports persons:

Risk Taking -Risk takers may include mountaineers, parachutists, who tend to be very confident that they can manage the risks that might be involved. They are willing to take physical risks to trigger their fight and flight response. So sporting risk takers are intentionally provoking this fight or flight response, as they may experience this high level of arousal in an exciting rather than fearful way.

Stimulus Seeking – associated with craving “experiences” or sensations. In sports, participants may seek the experience of fun, adrenalin, camaraderie, anticipation. Some studies have found athletes to be higher in stimulus, or sensation seeking than non-athletes.

Competitiveness – Can be motivation to drive an athlete to perform their best. A strong desire to win can give a participant an edge over other participants.

Self-Confidence – In sports this is to do with the amount of certainty an athlete has that they can be successful. This is recognised as an important factor in the enjoyment and success in sports.

Self-Discipline – is the ability to give up immediate gratification to work towards long-term rewards and goals. Self-disciplined athletes can motivate themselves to work long and hard for a potential future gain.

Rapid Cognition (make decisions quickly) – important for sports requiring split-second responses, e.g. tennis, basketball, soccer.

Positive outlook – always expect the best. Having a positive outlook can boost their performance levels. Negative affect such as depression, anger, anxiety and tension can reduce performance.

Good Stress Management – Athletes that can control their emotions and have emotional stability can help them to be more successful, by focusing on the task at hand, recovering from success or failure and not getting caught up by stress

Teams tend to show predictable personality profiles. So by understanding their psyche, their performance can be improved, as well as communication between players and the coach. It can also be used to make use of their personal strengths and work in other areas to identify their personality and learning styles.

Certain personality types will succeed more in certain sports and the more coaches know about the personality of athlete the more successful they will be. 


People Who Can Benefit From This Course

This certificate provides a solid foundation in the study of what it takes to succeed in sports, athletics and fitness training. Success in sports is more than physical fitness. It also depends on state of mind. There are many different psychological strategies that people can use to help motivate sports people and sustain their determination. Graduates of this course will have learnt about many of these strategies as well as complementary areas of study such as diet, fitness and managing personal energy resources.    
This course is aimed primarily at people working in, or thinking of working in the following fields:

  • Sports coach
  • Personal trainer
  • Sports psychology
  • Athlete
  • Sportsman
  • Health professions

The course may also be of interest to people who have friends or family who aspire to become athletes whether on an amateur or professional level.



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Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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