comscore script

Sport Psychology

Achieve your full potential, on and off the field. With consistency!

University of Arkansas Athletics offers Clinical and Sport Psychology services for its student-athletes. The purpose of our office is to aide UofA student-athletes in their quest for peak performance while maintaining balance in life. Sport psychology focuses on helping athletes better understand what it means to be ready to compete. Mental readiness is a combination of optimal emotional activation, a positive frame of mind, and a performance-relevant focus. In some cases, a student-athlete’s performance can suffer due to mental health issues, unfortunate life circumstances, or personal problems. Confidential sport psychology counseling can better equip student-athletes to cope with past and current problems, and can help them stay optimally focused in their competitive domain.

Services Provided:

– Individual, small group (e.g., position group), and/or group counseling, and team consultation
– Performance Enhancement: Mental coaching to improve individual and/or team performance (Psychological Skills Training)
– Coaching consultation, Sports Medicine consultation
– Assessment (for learning disabilities, ADHD, etc.) – this service is often done in collaboration with Arkansas Athletics’ Learning Specialist
– Crisis Intervention
– Career development and testing – this service is often done in collaboration with Arkansas Athletics’ Career Development Coordinator
– Workshops and presentations, Outreach as needed
– Specialized treatment and medication referral

Arkansas Clinical and Sport Psychology Topics:

Services for Arkansas student-athletes are provided to address what many experience as “peaks” and “valleys” during their college athletic career. Elite sport often yields enjoyment, excitement, and prestige, but comes with unique pressures facing college student-athletes. These pressures include, but are not limited to, managing a rigorous schedule filled with classes and practices, traveling to competitions, dealing with injuries, physical/mental/emotional fatigue, high expectations from coaches, media exposure, public appearances, and being a highly visible member of the university community. Many student-athletes cope effectively with these pressures. However, as human beings, sometimes we are on overload (some demands can exceed an individual’s resources), and meeting with a sport psychologist can be helpful.

Elite athletes are always looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Optimal performance mindsets can be managed through proper use of psychological skills such as relaxation/energizing techniques, imagery, positive self-talk, use of focus and coping plans, and the use of pre-performance routines. The overall objective of these mental skills is to assist individual student-athletes and teams to perform at consistently high levels.

Some common challenges interfering with one’s performance may be anxiety, depression, problematic family issues, dating problems, homesickness, injury, poor sleep habits, low self-esteem, grief issues, substance abuse, disordered eating, history of physical/emotional abuse, sexual assault, and relationship problems with roommates, teammates, or coaches. Student-athletes learn strategies that help them proactively manage their lives by developing healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

Who Provides the Services?

The University of Arkansas Athletic Department’s Director of Clinical and Sport Psychology is Michael B. Johnson, PhD, and the Clinical and Sport Psychology Intern, Derek Vigon, M.A.

Sport psychology sessions take on a variety of forms: sessions can range from a brief talk in passing or at practice, or a more formal 50-minute session in an office. Sport psychology sessions are typically more instructional and solution-focused than most other types of counseling sessions.

How Do I Make an Appointment?

Student-athletes can schedule an individual appointment by emailing Dr. Johnson at, by calling him at his JSAC office (479) 575-5163, or by calling/texting his cell at (479) 200-8490. Individual sessions are confidential in nature, and can be worked around the student-athlete’s schedule. Initial sessions last an hour.


Dr. Johnson is located in 220 JSAC. Derek Vigon, M.A. is in 221 JSAC. This is located on the 2nd floor, south side (i.e., we look out at Bud Walton Arena) of the new Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student-Athlete Success Center (JSAC).

What’s Up Doc?!–

Dr. Michael Johnson, Director of Clinical and Sport Psychology, began working for Arkansas Athletics in September, 2013. He is a licensed psychologist with a specialty in Sport Psychology. He worked previously with teams, coaches, and student-athletes at Kansas State University, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, The University of Texas-Pan American, The University of California at Riverside, and Florida State University. Additionally, Dr. Johnson was a collegiate student-athlete, earning 4 varsity letters in swimming at Brown University. Dr. Johnson also spent 16 years coaching high school swimmers.


Arkansas Athletics’ Clinical and Sport Psychology Services are a unique resource to University of Arkansas Athletic Department and Sports Medicine. The goal of Arkansas Athletics’ Clinical and Sport Psychology is to help Arkansas student-athletes get the most from their experiences, on and off the field, while competing as a Razorback.

Clinical and Sport Psych Apps:

Headspace Meditation App:

Breathe App:

WOOP App: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan:

Optimism App:


American Psychological Association (APA)

Helpful Links:
Athletes Connected: Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Health

Positive Organizational Scholarship – focusing on the dynamics that lead to developing human strength, producing resilience and restoration, fostering vitality, and cultivating extraordinary individuals, units, and organizations.

Positive Psychology: understand and build the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

Campus Resources outside of Athletics (all numbers begin with area code 479)

– UA Police: 575-5003 (Dial 911 for immediate emergencies)
– Razorback Patrol Escorts: 575-5000 (6 pm to 12:30 am)
– Office of International Students and Scholars: 575-5003
– University Lost & Found: 575-4494
– Career Development Center: 575-2805
– Pat Walker Health Center: 575-4451 (24 hour emergency service: 575-5276) – – Counseling Services, Women’s Clinic
– Center for Educational Access (Disability Services): 575-3104
– Conflict Resolution Resources: 575-5004
– Student Support Services (1st generation college students): 575-3546