An Applied Sport Psychologist Viewpoint: How to Become an Effective One

An Applied Sport Psychologist Viewpoint: How to Become an Effective One

James Lau

James Lau is a HCPC Registered and Chartered Sport Psychologist working for Inspiring Sporting Excellence as an associate whilst running JL Sports Performance.  He earned a Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Northumbria University, and has completed the British Psychology Society’s Stage 2 qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

He has worked with teams and individual athletes in a wide variety of sports since 2013, and has developed a specific focus on racquet sports along the way.  Along with a wealth of experience working with high-level athletes, James also has experience in playing competitive tennis and squash.  He has noticed that there is something in common that holds the majority of athletes he has worked with back from playing to their full potential on a consistent basis, or even replicating the level they are capable of during training. This something in common is fear.

  • Fear of missing shots
  • Fear of disappointing fans/friends/parents/ourselves
  • Fear of not reaching your expectations
  • Fear of opponents/spectators/coaches looking down on you
  • And many more…

This fear has caused many, including James himself, to play differently to how they would ideally like or plan to.

Therefore,  a large part of James’s focus is on working with athletes to tackle these thoughts of fear using tailored techniques developed through his expertise and experience, aiming to help them master their emotions, creating solid mindsets that will allow them to perform freely on the court and to give them an edge over their opponents.

In today’s episode of Demystifying Mental Toughness, I chat with my colleague James Lau, where we discussed his journey to qualifying as a Sport Psychologist.  We also considered lessons that he’d learned along the way and challenges that he had encountered in his training and now as an Applied Sport and Exercise Psychologist, in his private practice.  Working in team sports and one of his passions, racquet sports we go on to describe the types of challenges we face as practitioners, as well as how we support athletes.

Key Learning Points:

  • A Psychology degree helped give James a foundation to build on.
  • A Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology allowed him to learn specific techniques and theories that can benefit his clients.
  • Establishing and maintaining relationships with clients is critical as a Sport Psychologist.
  • The Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Stage 2 helped him learn more about the role, he faced challenges, made mistakes and learned, developing his own Mental Toughness.
  • Sport Psychologists can work with coaching staff to change the culture in a team setting.
  • Psychological safety is important in team sports so that individuals can go out and fully express themselves.
  • In racquet sports, often the biggest psychological challenge players have is dealing with big points (match point, break points).

Connect with James Lau

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Useful Resources

Sports Psychology For Youth Athletes Podcasts  

James Lau Blogs, Video’s and Podcasts

Racquet Sport Blogs

Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.

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David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Durham and willing to travel Internationally.  Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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