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Most top athletes today acknowledge that to be great in any sport, your mind must be as fit as your body. Some say “even more so” for golfers. Can a sport psychologist help?

Who Are Sport Psychologists?

Dr. Deborah Graham - Sport Psycologist

Dr. Deborah Graham, Sport Psycologist, with Tour Champion Dave Stockton

Think of a sport psychologist like you would a physical trainer. A skilled sport psychologist will help train your mind like a talented physical trainer helps you train your body, both with the aim of helping you play your best.

In general there are 3 basic types of recognized Sport Psychologists.

  1. Counseling Psychologists (Dr. Graham)-These professionals are trained in counseling psychology and are licensed to practice by a governing body in their state. They have developed a specialty in sport either with under-graduate or post-graduate training in athletic performance, sometimes specializing in one specific sport. The licensed counseling sport psychologist can teach performance enhancement skills, like focus, motivation and goal setting, as well as provide personal counseling for a variety of challenges like performance anxiety, low confidence, anger issues, mood swings, substance abuse, etc.
  2. Educational Psychologists (Dr. Rotella)-These professionals are trained in sports science. They study muscles, strength training and how to prevent injuries & generally take some psychology courses. Someone with a sports science background can help athletes with performance enhancement skills like focus, motivation and goal setting. They are not licensed but they usually have a certification offered by a related professional organization.
  3. Research Psychologists-These professionals are generally employed by a major university in the area of sport science. They design and conduct studies on student athletes in the area of sport psychology.

When Do You Use a Sport Psychologist?

If you, or someone you trust– parents, spouse, coach, instructor, etc–feel you are not playing to your potential or if you are seeking to take your golf game to the next level, you should consider some form of mental golf coaching.

What Type of Sport Psychologist Is Best for You?

  • If you think your challenges have something to do with fear, anxiety, personal confidence, attention deficit, family issues, relationship issues or interpersonal issues of any kind, seek a licensed counseling psychologist who specializes in sport, ideally golf. Talk with the professional over the phone to see if you feel a connection. Ask if they have a graduate degree and a current license in counseling psychology, and ask about their experience with golfers.
  • If your challenges are simple and seemingly more related to poor focus, tension, poor organization skills, or if you are just not sure, you can start with a educational psychologist or someone certified in performance enhancement. Ask about their training in sport, specifically their experience with golfers. And, ask about their certification.


Because there is no official governing body that provides formal licensing or certification for a “Sport Psychologist”, people with a variety of backgrounds refer to themselves with this title even if they have little or no formal training. Some may be quite skilled, but many are not, so it is important to ask the above questions. If you feel you need more assurance, ask for references.

You Have An Alternative

If a sports psychologist is not immediately available or preferred, but you do want more personalized help than can be provided by simple books and cd’s,

  • Consider starting with a 20-minute on-line mental skills assessment to identify your own current mental strengths and challenges. It is quite possible that with the accompanying mental skills recommendations you will be able to make the mental corrections you need entirely on your own.
  • Attend a GolfPsych Mental Game Golf School over the weekend including our Mental Game Builder Package for in-depth performance enhancement training (in the classroom and on the course). You will get experienced, expert coaching in tour-proven methods that you can apply immediately to your practice and your play.
  • Check to see if there is a trained and certified GolfPsych instructor in your area who can offer tips and guidance for getting the most benefit from your on-line mental skills assessment.

Sport Psychologists are not all the same. Ask questions and get referrals to get the best coaching for your mental golf game.  Our Testimonials

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2 Blue Heron Blvd.
Boerne, TX 78006


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