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THE FUTURE OF SPORT PSYCHOLOGY: A DELPHI POLL
JEFFREY T. GRADDY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2007 Jeffrey T. Graddy
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES ............................. 5
1 INTRODUCTION ......................................................... 7
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ..............................................10
Early Sport Psychology ..............................................10
Contemporary Sport Psychology .........................................12
Sport Psychology's Core Identity........................................18
Training Issues in Sport Psychology ......................................27
Research Issues in Sport Psychology ........................................43
Credentialing Issues in Sport Psychology ..................................47
Summary of Literature...............................................48
3 METHODS AND MATERIALS ........................................51
4 RESULTS .............................................................57
5 DISCUSSION ..........................................................59
Core Identity Issues .................................................59
Credentialing Issues .................................................68
6 CONCLUSIONS ...................................................71
A LIST OF INVITED PANELISTS ..........................................76
B INVITATION LETTER ........................................78
C THE FUTURE OF SPORT PSYCHOLOGY SURVEY...................................... ...............79
L IS T O F R E F E R E N C E S ...............................................................................................................93
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... . 97
LIST OF TABLES
6-1 M ean R atings for R ounds 1 and 2....................................................................................75
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE FUTURE OF SPORT PSYCHOLOGY: A DELPHI POLL
Jeffrey T. Graddy
Chair: Greg Neimeyer
Major: Counseling Psychology
A Delphi poll of sport psychology experts was conducted to identify the anticipated future
of several key components of the field of sport psychology. These four components were: core
identity issues, training issues, research issues, and credentialing issues. It was found that experts
within sport psychology believed that the field will become increasingly diverse and multi-
disciplinary, and will continue to expand its use of multiple research methodologies. It was also
expected that training approaches will increasingly expand and overlap, with an increasing
reliance on other related fields for cross-training. In addition, it was found that there was little
consensus on the future of credentialing within the field, but projections support some type of
certification offered by professional organizations.
The field of sport psychology has a relatively short history, but one that is marked by
significant changes in the field. From its roots in the motor learning experiments conducted at the
turn of the century, to the current interest in how Tiger Woods got his "mental toughness," there
have been a variety of important historical directions taken within sport psychology. Many times
these changes are only viewed in retrospect. In a few instances, there has been a predictive view
that new foci were emerging, but often there was no hard evidence for others to rely on (e.g.,
presidential addresses) in their attempts to understand where the field was headed. In other
adjacent fields, such as counseling psychology, there have been several attempts to peer into the
future through creative research methods, and these attempts have yielded a greater
understanding of the respective field and its future. Thus, this study attempts to accomplish a
similar goal: to predict the future of the field of sport psychology by seeking the expert views of
a number of leaders within the field.
Some of the key issues raised in the field of sport psychology over the last two decades
include concepts that are probably similar to many young fields: the identity of the field, how
research is conducted, how new members of the field are trained, and how members of the field
are credentialed. The first issue is a key focus of the field, and has been commented on, studied,
and reflected on throughout the history of the field. The key issues are how the field identifies
itself in relation to closely related fields (sport science, motor learning, counseling/clinical
psychology), and how it expects itself to fit in to the larger scheme of the world of sports. The
way the field approaches research has changed over the last 20 years, moving from a quantitative
focus, to a qualitative one. More recently, a call for an integrated approach has been made as the
most valid way to translate the lab to the real world, but how this is and should actually be
carried out is still debated. The training of new sport psychology professionals is another key
issue for the field, and there has been a growth in the number of training programs, especially
doctoral degree programs. This has not necessarily meant there are a growing number of jobs
however, and as important, the types of jobs available (academic, private practice, college
setting, etc.) are something not guaranteed to be clear to most professionals today. The other
important issue identified by a review of the historical and current concerns of the field is the
issue of credentialing. The issue has been raised on a regular basis for some years now, with a
variety of opinions and interest in how sport psychology professionals come to identify
themselves as experts. All of these issues are key contributors to what the field of sport
psychology currently looks like, and more importantly to this study, what it may look like in the
The field of sport psychology has only gained the position it enjoys today in the last
several decades, even though it can be traced back formally to the late 1800s. This short history
as a formalized field has both guided, and been guided by, those who lead the field and who
discover important new theories and applications. Thus, it is important to acknowledge the
contribution that the "anticipated future" of a field has on its actual growth and direction. This is
especially true in younger fields, such as sport psychology, that may be limited in their ability to
rely on "laws" as predictive indicators.
Through out its history, there have been a number of instances whereby those within the
field of sport psychology have attempted to predict its future. These predictions can be seen in
both scientific efforts like studies on where graduates in the field are getting jobs (Meyers et al.,
2001), and more philosophical efforts such as annual presidential addresses for the various
professional groups. Between the two approaches to predicting key movement in the field, the
scientific studies have typically been limited to specific areas within the field (number of
graduates with a Ph.D. versus Master's degree or how athletes perceive getting help with
psychological issues), but not the field as a whole. In contrast, those efforts to predict the
direction of the field as a whole, or at least the major components of the field, have been purely
theoretical, without any replicable science behind them. The lack of rigor in many attempts to
predict the future of the field is not surprising, since capturing such a broad spectrum of issues
can be challenging in any field. The individual efforts to predict the future are common,
especially by those who lead the field (presidential addresses), however there has been limited
effort to capture these expert opinions together. This is the value of the Delphi method, as it can
offer predictions about the field's future by combining the usefulness of expert opinion with a
scientific approach to collecting and interpreting this data.
The Delphi method gains the consensus of a panel of experts within in a given field, in this
case sport psychology. Martino (1978) argues that experts, isolated from one another, can give
good insight into the future of a field, without the risks associated with just asking one expert, or
the risk of having a group of experts influence one another (in a group setting). Items for the
survey used in any Delphi poll are based on the literature, and are drawn as historically and
contemporarily significant to the field. The first round of responses are collected, and then
averaged and fed back to the participants so that they can adjust their scores relative to the group
mean. Typical results yield a reduction in standard deviations, which is interpreted as an increase
in agreement among the experts polled. The final mean scores for the items are calculated, and
are interpreted to be the consensus of the group. These final mean scores are interpreted and
offered as a useful predictor of the future of the field relative to those key issues.
Early Sport Psychology
The first research studies in sport psychology actually came from the discipline of social
psychology (Andersen et al., 2001). In examining the performance of cyclists, Norman Triplett
(1897) observed a "dynamogenic" effect that boosted the performance of cyclists competing
against one another compared to performance cycling alone. Triplett noted that:
This theory of competition holds that the bodily presence of another rider is a stimulus to
the racer in arousing the competitive instinct; that another can thus be the means of
releasing or freeing nervous energy for him that he cannot of himself release; and, further,
that the sight of movement in that other by perhaps suggesting a higher rate of speed, is
also an inspiration to greater effort (Triplett, 1897).
In contemporary social psychology, the "dynamogenic" effect is interpreted as "social
facilitation" (Andersen et al., 2001). Triplett was also aware of the interaction between
psychological and physiological mechanisms during athletic competition. Indirectly, his
observations reflect social cognitive concepts such as modeling, arousal, and performance
appraisal (Bandura, 1986). Triplett (1897) also conducted research on children, noting the extent
they were affected positively, adversely, or not at all by competition. His writings show detailed
descriptions of motor activity and exertion, highlighting the origins of sport psychology in motor
learning and motor performance (Browne & Mahoney, 1984).
Tasks of motor learning and motor performance were conducive to the type of laboratory
experiments that became popular at the time. As early as 1886-1887, James McKeen Cattall
obtained practice curves for running three miles (Fuchs, 1998), and even though Cattall's data
did not appear until 1929, illustrating the connection between sport sciences and psychology, he
was the first psychologist to apply the term "mental tests" to intelligence tests used for research
purposes, and is one of the founders of applied psychology.
In 1918, Coleman Griffith, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, compared the
reaction times of football and basketball players (Browne & Mahoney, 1984; Fuchs, 1998).
Between 1920 and 1940, Griffith expanded his research, ultimately earning the title of the
"Father of Sport Psychology in the U.S." Griffith's main areas of research were learning,
psychomotor skills, and personality factors. He devised a test for mental alertness in athletes and
formulated a theory on the role of motivation in sports, derived from the experiences of football
coaches. He was the first psychologist to directly explore the relationship of psychological
factors to athletic performance, and he did so when he worked with the Chicago White Sox in the
early 1900s. Griffith is credited with introducing the first course in the psychology of sport in
the U.S. and supervising the first two doctoral dissertations in the new field.
During this same period other countries were embarking on independent channels of sport
psychology research, notably Germany, Japan, and the new Soviet Union (Browne & Mahoney,
1984). In Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, sport psychology gained recognition as a
scientific discipline and thus made inroads in institutes and laboratories of physical education
and sports. Although World War II disrupted the progress of sport psychology in the U.S., it
continued in Germany and the Soviet Union.
Fuchs (1998) draws a parallel between the burgeoning field of psychology and the
popularity of baseball in the U.S. Babe Ruth's extraordinary batting prowess stimulated interest
among psychologists, and led to a series of tests conducted by Columbia University
psychologists Albert Johanson and Joseph Holmes. Interestingly, the test data were not all
reported and that data which was reported did not necessarily hold consistent with the
"supernormal" reaction time, coordination, and perceptual skills lauded by sports writer Hugh
Fullerton in a Popular Science article on the "secrets" of Ruth's remarkable success.
Nonetheless, Fullerton's enthusiasm for Ruth may have done more to imprint sport psychology
on the American psyche than a scholarly journal article with limited readership. As interpreted
by Fuchs (1998), "Fullerton shared the optimism of psychologists that their science would
uncover the fundamental processes of mind and behavior and demonstrate the usefulness of that
knowledge in practical affairs" (p. 161).
Through the symbolic presence of Babe Ruth, Fullerton made psychology accessible to the
American public (Fuchs, 1998), and not coincidentally psychology was rapidly expanding
outside the laboratory.
Contemporary Sport Psychology
In the thriving economy of the post-World War I era, there was a rapid growth of interest
in applied psychology, marked by increasing enrollments in college and university programs,
sales of books related to psychology, and demands from business and industry for the expertise
of trained psychologists. Applied psychology is one of the areas in which sport psychology has
its roots, and includes the various areas of performance enhancement, life skills training,
organizational consulting with teams, clinical and counseling interventions with athletes, and
injury rehabilitation (Meyers et al., 2001).
If the post-World War I era was a flourishing time for applied psychology in the U.S., the
post-World War II era was something of a nadir for sport psychology. Under the Communist
government, the Soviet Union was the world leader in sport psychology in its efforts to dominate
the West in any efforts possible (including sports), and served as a model for Eastern European
countries (Browne & Mahoney, 1984). In the U.S., there was no government sponsorship for
sport psychology research, nor was there much interest from psychology departments to pursue
this line of research or practice. Sport psychology was thus relegated largely to physical
education departments where its emphasis remained psychomotor learning and motor
During the 1930s, Griffith called for more psychological research, decrying the over-
reliance on anecdotal reports to address psychological issues in athletic performance (Weiss &
Gill, 2005). Unfortunately, there is negligible evidence of additional research taking place until
the 1960s when the field reemerged.
The year 1965 was a landmark in the development of sport psychology in Western Europe
and North America when the first International Congress of Sport Psychology was held in Rome
(Browne & Mahoney, 1984). Feruccio Antonelli, who chaired the event, was elected the
president of The International Society of Sport Psychology. The international organization
became a vehicle for networking and generated the type of information sharing that fueled the
growth of sport psychology in Eastern Europe. The first sport psychology journal, the
International Journal of Sport Psychology, appeared in 1970. An Internet search for psychology
journals yields more than 20 "sport specific journals" and a long list of "journals of possible
interest and relevance," as well as an exhaustive list of psychology journals
(www.geocities.com/). Of these, the field of sport psychology in the United States currently has
three major representative peer-reviewed journals: The Journal ofApplied Sport Psychology, The
Sport Psychologist, and The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
One of the prominent figures in sport psychology during the 1970s and 1980s was William
Morgan. Morgan conducted extensive research on athletes in a variety of sports ranging in skill
from pre-elite, to elite or world class, attempting to determine psychological factors that
determine peak performance (Raglin, 2001). The results showed that successful athletes scored
higher on "vigor" than the general population and lower on tension, anger, depression, fatigue,
and confusion. Morgan coined the term "iceberg profile" to denote the model of mental health
he considered essential for peak performance. The instrument Morgan developed, the Profile of
Mood States (POMS) is one of the most widely used assessments in sport psychology
(O'Connor, 2004b). Research confirms that the iceberg profile exists across sports as diverse as
tennis (Meyers, Sterling, Treadwell, Bourgeois, & LeUnes, 1994) and rowing (Maestu, Jurimae,
& Jurimae, 2005), and transcends gender and ethnicity.
Morgan served as the first president of APA Division 47. In the first newsletter, he cited
the impressive array of disciplines and areas unified by the pioneer organization:
The focus of professionals and students in this field of specialization is quite diverse, and
scientific inquiry, as well as clinical applications have historically cut across the interest of many
existing divisions. Individuals working in this area come from sub-specialties within psychology
such as developmental, educational, clinical, counseling, industrial, comparative, physiological,
social, personality, hypnosis, motivation, human factors, ergonomics, and health psychology.
Although professionals and students in this area represent numerous specialties within
psychology, they are bonded together by a common interest in sport and exercise (Morgan, 1986,
Morgan (1986) noted that the members of Division 47 were evenly divided by individuals
whose focus was on competitive athletes (and some specifically on elite athletes) and those
involved with the study and application of sport psychology to exercise and athleticism outside
the sports arena. With increasing recognition of the link between physical and psychological
health, the second category continues to grow (Hays, 1995). Advances in genetics and
technology, as well as the growing emphasis on multidisciplinary teamwork in sports medicine,
should have a pronounced impact on work with competitive and elite athlete (Miller, 1999).
Division 47 is one of several bodies devoted to sport psychology, though it is the only one
which is exclusively made up of psychologists. Other organizations associated with the
education, training, and career advancement of sport psychologists are the Association for the
Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) and the North American Society for the
Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) (Van Raalte & Williams, 1994). Dating
back to the 1960s, NASPSPA is the oldest organization in North America dedicated to exercise
and sport psychology (Hays, 1995). AAASP predates Division 47 by one year; it was created by
individuals who broke away from the "academic research" orientation of traditional
organizations to specialize in applying sport psychology research to real world settings. Today,
all three of these professional organizations contribute crucial support to their respective
members within the field, offering conferences, networking, continuing education, and advocacy.
In 1983, members at the convention of the American Psychological Association (APA)
formed the Exercise and Sport Psychology Interest Group (Morgan, 1986). At roughly the same
time, the United States Olympic Committee introduced a registry with the goal of referrals in the
domains of education, research, and clinical sport psychology (Browne & Mahoney, 1984).
Browne and Mahoney view these efforts as fledgling steps in the convergence of the sport
sciences and psychology. The "key date in the history of North American Sport Psychology,"
according to Morgan (1986, p. 1), is August 24, 1986, when the APA Council unanimously
voted to establish Division 47, the "Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology." Morgan noted
that within three years, the interest group of 25 or 30 persons had expanded to over 1,000
members and student affiliates.
These landmarks in the formal recognition of North American Sport Psychology highlight
both the relative youth of the field and its interdisciplinary roots. "Sport Sciences" is a hybrid
encompassing physical education, kinesiology, movement sciences, and human performance
(Hays, 1994). Historically, academics in the sport sciences have paid more attention to sport
psychology than their scholarly counterparts in psychology (Brown, 2001; Browne & Mahoney,
1984), but more recent trends suggest that some psychologists may be increasingly viewing sport
psychology as a specialty area with their field. The bulk of training and research in sport
psychology is still conducted by sport sciences departments rather than psychology departments
(Andersen, Van Raalte, & Brewer, 2001; Brown, 2001). There are few references to exercise
and sport psychology in most introductory psychology textbooks, "thus omitting an area that has
applications to many subfields and can be appealing to students" (Andersen, Brewer, Van Raalte,
& Davis, 1996, p. 60). Within either field of training, the strongest growth area within the field is
in academic careers, with a concurrent emphasis on obtaining a doctoral degree, as opposed to a
master's degree (Williams & Scherzer, 2003).
APA Division 47 defines sport psychology as "the scientific study of the psychological
factors that are associated with participation and performance in sport, exercise, and other types
of physical activity" (cited in Brown, 2001, p. 19). Thus sport psychology is concerned with
both the psychological influences on athletic participation and performance, and the effects of
exercise and sports on psychological mechanisms (Hays, 1995). Motivating an elite athlete to
peak performance and understanding how losing championship games impacts the psyche of
professional athletes both fall within the realm of sport psychology and are good examples of
how diverse the field is. There is increasing recognition that the psychological techniques used
to enhance athletic performance and help athletes cope with injury and competitive loss can be
applied to achieving personal goals and coping with stress and disappointments in other areas of
life (Orlick, 2000). This recognition has broadened sport psychology's reach and impact.
In addition to books like Orlick's In Pursuit ofExcellence (2000), the popular media has
raised the visibility of sport psychology by detailing the use of mental training by top athletes,
including hiring sport psychologists to help them perfect their game or discipline. For example,
Newsweek's "Mind Games" described the concentration techniques employed by Tiger Woods,
Michael Jordan, Nancy Kerrigan, and Jack Nicklaus, among other renowned athletes (Begley &
Begun, 2000). Tiger Woods was also featured in "Into the Zone," appearing in U.S. News &
World Report (Tolson, Kleiner, & Marcus, 2000). Like Orlick's book, "Into the Zone" also drew
a parallel between mental concentration in sports and other areas of human endeavor.
Hays (1995) observed that there is now a powerful research base affirming what the
ancient Greeks recognized 2,000 years ago: "Mens sano in corpore sano, or, "There is a positive
connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind" (p. 34). Acceptance of the mind-body
connection traditionally resisted by Western medicine suggests that sport psychology has a future
within a holistic model of health.
Browne and Mahoney (1984) referred to sport psychology as the "toddler" child of sport
sciences and psychology. Two decades later, the field appears to be in "adolescence." The
paradigm outlined by Miller (1999) suggests that sport sciences will continue to be a dominant
influence on sport psychology. The number of programs offering degrees in sport psychology is
continually expanding (Van Raalte & Williams, 1994) and more programs are offering doctoral
degrees (Williams & Scherzer, 2003). The relative neglect of sport psychology by psychology
departments may be an advantage: it ensures that sport psychologists have extensive
interdisciplinary training because they have to receive this training in other departments (Brown,
While the popularity of the field is growing in both the media and the number of new
recruits it attracts, Williams and Scherzer (2003) suggest that there may be a surplus of
candidates entering sport psychology, maybe more than the market can sustain. However,
current trends in the related areas of sport sciences, sports medicine, and health promotion, a well
as exercise and sport psychology, suggest that shaped by new knowledge and new technologies,
the field is in a state of transition. Clearly, sport psychologists, like athletes, must have cutting-
edge knowledge and skills to compete.
Sport Psychology's Core Identity
Hinkle's (1994) division of professionals in the field into sport psychologists, whose focus
is on performance enhancement and mental skills training, and sport counselors, who work with
athletes' individual and psychosocial development and problem issues is actually a misnomer.
Because the term "psychologist" is legally reserved for those possessing a Ph.D. in psychology,
to use this term to refer to others is "out of bounds." Brown (2000) uses the terms educational
sport psychologist and clinical sport psychologist to denote the same respective orientations, but
again the term psychologist is used inappropriately. Sport psychologists are psychologists who
practice in the sport psychology arena, while sport psychology consultants are professionals
trained in the sport sciences who operate within the realm of sport psychology. A model
envisioned by Andersen et al. (2001) suggests that the distinction between these two core groups
is blurring, although there is indication that professionals who are adept in the cognitive-
behavioral techniques of performance and motivation (i.e., sport-science professionals) may not
be qualified to delve into clinical issues while those with psychology backgrounds may lack
information related to athletic performance. For the sake of convenience, the commonly-used
terms "sport psychologist" and "sport psychology consultant" will be used when a distinction is
needed between the two different groups of professionals in the field.
Gayman and Crossman (2006) explored the issue of clinical competence in a study of 18
consultants registered with the Canadian Mental Training Registry (CMTR), the Canadian
equivalent of the AAASP. The purpose of the study was to examine whether the sport
psychologists referred clients who exhibited clinical problems or had clients referred to them.
Most respondents reported they maintained referral lists as part of good professional practice;
however, they rarely referred clients to other clinicians or had clients referred to them. A few
respondents were trained in counseling, thus they were equipped to deal with athletes presenting
serious psychological issues. The majority claimed they saw negligible evidence of athletes with
The idea that athletes would have few serious psychological problems is congruent with
research that physically active individuals enjoy superior mental health (Hays, 1995), however
within any consulting practice it is likely that a consultant would encounter at least some
psychological problems in athletes. While most athletes are mentally healthy, by the time
athletes are diagnosed with psychological problems, they display fairly severe manifestations of
psychopathology (Hays, 1995). Part of this may be due to a general reluctance by athletes to
seek psychological counseling. Importantly, Gayman and Crossman (2006) propose that sport
psychologists who lack training in clinical counseling may fail to recognize signs of
psychological disturbance that are beyond their professional expertise. While the rigors of an
athletic regimen may preclude (or limit) the involvement of individuals with severe disorders
like active schizophrenia, disorders documented in athletes include eating disorders, substance
abuse, stress, anxiety disorders, anger/aggression, depression, relationship problems, and sexual
dysfunction (Hays, 1995).
Gayman and Crossman (2006) argue that sport psychologists (and sport psychology
consultants) should have extensive referral networks of professionals in a variety of areas so they
can ethically offer treatment to clients who manifest problems outside their professional
competence. They draw on Van Raalte and Andersen, who outlined several suggests for easing
the referral process in sport psychology consultation. First, sport psychologists should bring up
the possibility of referral at the first meeting. Second, when it becomes apparent that the
athlete's problem falls outside the realm of performance enhancement, they should explain in
easily understood language (as opposed to professional jargon) why the referral is being made
and what psychotherapy with the counseling professional entails.
An alternate option is to "refer in" as opposed to "referring out" when a counselor is
needed. Gayman and Crossman (2006) suggest that the use of a "team approach" to referral
might make the athlete feel more at ease since the meeting takes place in a familiar environment.
Furthermore, the trust and rapport developed in the therapeutic alliance between the sport
psychologist (or sport psychology consultant) and client may facilitate the transition to a new
professional, and may work to offset any potential fears of abandonment. The team approach is
consistent with general trends in sport psychology albeit still a long way off for most consultants.
Brown (2001) aptly uses the metaphor of "cross-training" to refer to the development of
proficiency in both sport psychology techniques and clinical counseling. Similar to its
counterpart in athletic training, "clinical cross-training" "strengthens both skill sets while
reducing the chance of mental burnout" (p. 19). In view of the fact that cognitive-behavioral
techniques are widely used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance
abuse, and other clinical problems athletes are likely to present, cognitive-behavioral therapists
are the most obvious candidates for dual proficiency in sport psychology and clinical counseling.
Brown (2001) considers family therapists less obvious candidates, although Zimmerman and
Protinsky (1993), as well as Brown (2001), view family systems theory applicable to sport
psychology. Similar to the trends in counseling and clinical psychology as a whole, no one
approach is a clear "winner," and not all tactics can be applied successfully with all individuals.
For determining whether a counselor's philosophical principles are compatible with the
tenets of sport psychology, Brown (2001) demarcates the fundamental premises of sport
Effective interventions in sport psychology demand comprehensive knowledge of the sport
and exercise context.
Outcome is crucial within the sport and exercise context. An excellent sport psychologist
or sport psychology consultant, like an excellent athlete, is expected to produce intended results
within a specified time.
Sport psychologists and consultants focus on strengths rather than pathology.
Sport psychology requires expertise in direct intervention. This entails providing concrete
advice and direction and communicating it clearly and informally.
Effective interventions require flexibility on the part of the sport psychologist or
consultant. This means taking advantage of every "window of opportunity" by providing advice
in unconventional settings such as the locker room, playing field, or en route to an event.
Sport psychology stresses teaching athletes a relatively uniform set of techniques. The
typical repertoire of a sport psychologist or consultant includes visualization, relaxation, goal
setting, concentration, and cognitive-affective techniques.
Brown (2001) perceives two basic commonalities between sport psychology and family
systems psychology that make them amenable to cross-training. Both areas of psychology view
the context of behavior as a central issue. In family systems theory, "it is the context of
relationships and intentions that give meaning to individual behavior" (p. 2). Both sport
psychology and family systems focus on strengths, resources, and solutions rather than delving
A family systems approach may be ideally suited to working with athletic teams.
Zimmerman and Protinsky (1993) described the utility of this approach in their work with a
female intercollegiate athletic team presenting with four problems identified by the athletes, their
head coach, and three assistant coaches: special attention paid to one player by the coaching
staff; frequent complaining during practice; the coaches' complementary or polarized roles on
the team; and the need to raise the confidence of the team as a whole. With experience in the
application of family systems theory to athletic teams, Zimmerman and Protinsky propose their
model of Uncommon Sports Psychology as a means of expanding the practice of family systems
therapy and offering athletes an alternative to traditional sport psychology consulting. The
model includes training coaches in the appropriate techniques, and the authors have found
coaches to be enthusiastic and athletes find the intervention effective.
Uncommon Sports Psychology offers a specific framework for structuring sport
psychology intervention (Zimmerman & Protinsky, 1993), while Brown (2001) adopts a broader
perspective on integrating sport and family systems. The work of both authors illustrates a trend
in the expansion of sport psychology and its potential for integration with clinical counseling
approaches for a more powerful research and practice base.
Largely overlapping with the career tracks identified above, Van Raalte & Williams (1994)
identify three main professional career tracks in sport psychology: education, research, and
applied psychology, with further specialization within each one. Using these three tracks as a
foundation, Meyers et al. (2001) investigated the career paths and incomes of 293 men and 140
women drawn from the membership lists of APA Division 47 and AAASP. The researchers
found that only a small proportion earned "generous incomes" from sport psychology
consultation (p. 10). Most respondents identified their main practice setting as academia (47%)
or private practice (37%). Many with psychology backgrounds cited private practice as a
secondary setting. Sport scientists accounted for the bulk of professionals in academic settings;
75% of the sport scientists worked in academia. Among the psychology professionals who
received compensation for sport psychology work, 52% derived their incomes from academia or
research, while an additional 48% listed their primary commitment as private practice, mental
health clinics, hospitals, or professional sports organizations. The overwhelming majority of
sport scientists receiving compensation for sport psychology (80%) were academics.
For professionals with a psychology background, Meyers et al. (2001) view sport
psychology as a worthwhile endeavor to broaden the scope of their practice, but a poor
investment as a primary specialty. Sports scientists have productive careers in education and
research but limited opportunities in applied sport psychology. Regardless of having a
background in psychology or sport science, Meyers et al. recommend an academic career for
individuals seeking to pursue sport psychology as a full-time profession.
Williams and Scherzer (2003) built on a prior study to examine patterns of employment
among graduates of sport psychology programs. The previous study conducted by Andersen and
colleagues focused on graduates from 1989 to 1994, while Williams and Scherzer's sample
consisted of masters and doctoral degree recipients from 1994 to 1999. The respondents were
618 masters degree graduates and 196 doctoral graduates, fairly evenly divided by gender.
As in the study of Meyers et al. (2001), most of the doctoral graduates were employed in
academic settings (Williams & Scherzer, 2003). The doctoral graduates reported teaching (77%)
and research (65%) as their main career priorities. Since most doctoral graduates took positions
in these areas, two-thirds described themselves as mostly or entirely satisfied with realization of
their career goals.
Williams and Scherzer (2003) observed "very positive changes in salary and career
perceptions" for both masters and doctoral graduates compared to the earlier study, commenting
that the respondents "made considerably more money than just the passage of five years would
suggest" (p. 351). While acknowledging it was still challenging, the respondents found it easier
to obtain paid consulting work in sport psychology. Respondents expressed more fulfillment of
their original career goals, greater satisfaction with sport psychology work, less frustration over
their sport psychology career progress, and greater confidence in fulfilling future career goals.
Although both masters and doctoral degree holders were equally optimistic about their
professional futures, the masters-level graduates expressed more frustration and less current
satisfaction than the doctoral graduates.
There was some evidence of more opportunities opening in sport psychology for the later
sample. However, most were not in working with athletes, but in performance enhancement
consulting with individuals outside of sports such as musicians, insurance agents, business
professionals, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and medical centers (Williams & Scherzer,
2003), and even these were the clear minority. Among masters graduates, women had an
advantage in terms of income and work in sport psychology consulting; however, men earned
higher salaries overall.
Williams and Scherzer (2003) detected "one serious inequity"; that is, sport psychology is
an "overwhelmingly White profession" (p. 352). While APA Division 47 has raised this issue
(Van Raalte, 2004), it has certainly not been solved. There are seminars, workshops, and in
some sport psychology programs, courses, devoted to issues of diversity and multiculturalism
and as president of Division 47, Van Raalte called for recruitment efforts to promote racial and
ethnic diversity in the field. Interestingly, within the field of counseling psychology,
"commitment to issues of diversity" emerged as the top priority for the future of the field in a
Delphi survey of counseling psychologists conducted by Neimeyer & Diamond in 2001. So
although diversity issues are a growing concern for sport psychology, the profession remains
"overwhelmingly White" (Van Raalte, 2004).
A 1992 Delphi poll predicted that counseling therapies of the future would be brief,
directive, person-centered, and problem-focused, with emphasis on clinical effectiveness (Hays,
1995) and Hays places sport psychology squarely within this paradigm. In parallel, Neimeyer
and Diamond's 2001 study on the future of sport psychology gave top priority to three broad
dimensions within their field: the anticipated core identity of the specialty, the future role of
science and research training, and prospective development relevant to professional training.
With respect to alterations in the core identity, there are professionals who advocate a
closer alignment of counseling psychology with other health care professions (Neimeyer &
Diamond, 2001). Combined with the emergence of sport psychology from its origins in sport
science, this suggests there may be greater collaboration between sport psychology and
counseling psychology. The literature is replete with evidence that a significant proportion of
collegiate and professional athletes require counseling beyond performance enhancement
(Andersen et al., 2001; Gayman & Crossman, 2006; Gardner, 2001; Leffingwell et al., 2001;
Raglin, 2001). Furthermore, career counseling is part of counseling psychology (Neimeyer &
Diamond, 2001), and is equally relevant to collegiate athletes facing graduation (Jordan &
Denson, 1990) and to athletes transitioning out of professional sports (Gardner, 2001). Both
counseling psychology (Neimeyer & Diamond, 2001) and sport psychology (Miller et al., 1999)
may be moving in the direction of networked alliances with health and medicine. The trend in
counseling psychology toward greater emphasis on science is also consistent with the foundation
of sport psychology in sport sciences.
In the context of professional training, diversity issues took top priority in the Delphi poll
of counseling psychologists (Neimeyer & Diamond, 2001). This remains a thorny issue in sport
psychology, as APA Division 47 strongly advocates greater attention to diversity issues;
however, diversity training is not formally embedded in most sport psychology programs (Van
Raalte, 2004). One area of diversity in which Division 47 is making notable progress is working
with athletes with disabilities. Sport psychologists report working with wheelchair athletes and
counseling athletes with disabilities in a variety of sports. This innovative specialty may be a
promising practice area, although is does nothing to expand the recruitment of diversity within
Another issue in diversity is the provision of sport psychology services to children and
adolescents (Hinkle, 1994). Hinkle asserts that sport psychologists and counselors can be key
players in encouraging exercise and sports participation among children, not only for the purpose
of competition, but also in preparation for a healthy lifestyle. Offering consulting services to
schools is one area for potential practice. Working with (or establishing) summer programs and
community groups are other venues for youth-oriented services and these services should be
guided by both developmental and health promotion principles. An additional area for sport
psychology is facilitating teamwork and sportsmanship among competitive youth athletes
(Anderson, Hodge, Lavallee, & Martin, 2004). Anderson et al. emphasize the importance of
fostering moral development and instilling young athletes (who are exposed to bad behavior on
the part of professional athletes) with prosocial values.
Training Issues in Sport Psychology
As a new field with an interdisciplinary heritage, the issue arises of who can refer to him or
herself as a "sport psychologist." By default, the title "psychologist" denotes that the individual
has passed rigorous criteria for state licensure or certification (American Psychological
Association, 2000; Hays, 1995). For the purpose of consultation, whether with elite athletes or
clients who stand to derive psychological benefits from sport psychology principles, a sport
psychologist must have requisite certification according to both state laws and organizational
Van Raalte and Williams (1994) outline four basis career tracks in sport psychology, each
with distinctive credentialing issues:
Track I: Teaching/Research in Sport Sciences and Work with Athletes on Performance
Track II: Teaching/Research in Psychology and Interest in Work with Athletes.
Track III: Provide Clinical/Counseling Services to Various Populations Including Athletes.
Track IV: Health Promotion and Work with Athletes but not Necessarily Directly in Sport
Career Tracks I, II, and III all require a doctoral degree that includes a substantial amount
of coursework in exercise and sport science (Van Raalte & Williams, 1994). The distinction is
that candidates who choose Track III must complete an accredited Clinical or Counseling
Psychology program and likely take courses in sport psychology. Track III has a broad range of
applied psychology options including private psychology practice, counseling or health
psychology in a university setting, psychological consulting in a sports medicine clinic,
substance abuse specialist, or career specialist. In contrast, the focus for Tracks I and II is on
teaching and research, although they may engage choose to engage in part-time (or rarely, full-
Track IV candidates require at least a Master's degree in a Clinical, Counseling, or related
psychology degree, with a substantial amount of coursework in exercise and sport psychology.
They may also possess a Master's degree in Sport Sciences with a substantial amount of
psychology coursework (Van Raalte & Williams, 1994). The main areas of employment are as a
College or University Academic Athletic Advisor, as a coach, or in health or health promotion.
Van Raalte and Williams note that despite the minimum requirement of a Master's degree that
many colleges, universities, and health centers prefer doctoral degrees. While affirming this
preference in academic settings, Williams and Scherzer (2003) found that sport psychologists
with Master's degrees often do well in consulting although sport psychology consultation
accounts for only part of their practice.
Miller et al. (1999) believe that in addition to education in their respective disciplines,
sports medicine specialists, including psychologists, will need knowledge in a number of areas to
successfully engage in interdisciplinary teamwork and engage clients in a consumer model of
health care. These include: 1) effective interpersonal skill development, 2) new models of
conflict management, 3) resources for quality athletic management, and 4) research on mastering
cognitive, kinesthetic, and communication skills. They note that these skills should easily be
within the repertoire of professionals in an area with a broad base in multiple disciplines and
domains, and a "multiple intelligence" perspective (p. 147).
The career tracks delineated by Van Raalte and Williams (1994) alternately stress
counseling/clinical psychology or sport science. Andersen et al. (2001) caution that due to the
relative dearth of psychology programs offering doctorates in sport psychology, many graduates
of these programs need to augment with their training with specialized courses in areas related to
working with athletes. Due to its origins in physical education, the main focus of sport
psychology was perceived as being in the domains of performance enhancement and teaching of
psychological skills such as relaxation, mental rehearsal, visualization, positive self-talk, and
goal setting. The field has since expanded to include counseling and clinical training, as the
above Career Tracks indicate. Andersen et al. predict that, "It is highly likely that in the future,
the education, training, and practice of sport psychology will come to look more like a species of
counseling psychology and less like performance enhancement training" (Andersen et al., 2001,
According to Holt and Strean (2001), although supervision is requisite for graduate
students, there is some question over what constitutes appropriate supervision in sport
psychology. Few studies have addressed the issue of supervision in applied sport psychology.
The issue is complicated by the emphasis on techniques in traditional sport psychology and a
growing preference for humanistic, "athlete-centered" approaches, drawn from Rogers' client-
centered counseling. Operating under the philosophy that the provision of person-centered
counseling requires self-knowledge and adaptability, Holt used the mechanism of critical
incident reflection to advance this knowledge of self and of the issues athletes confront.
Holt was the supervisee and Strean the supervisor in the relationship (Holt & Strean,
2001). The authors recommend critical incident reflection as a strategy for helping interns
improve their consulting skills by reflecting on strengths and weakness. In addition, it may be
effectively applied to other issues, such as ethical concerns, that arise in the course of practice.
From a broader perspective, and considering the lack of research in this area, the authors'
experience underscores the need for more attention to supervision in sport psychology education
The greater emphasis on athlete-centered counseling probably reflects both the inclusion of
counseling psychology tenets into traditional sport science approaches, and the increase in the
number of psychologists who are focusing on sport psychology as a specialization. Some
observers argue that Carl Rogers' therapeutic principles are not unique to client-centered
counseling, but are "characteristic of all good therapy" (Miller, 2006, p. 3). The therapeutic
alliance in sport psychology has unique attributes that set it apart from all other areas of
psychology practice (Andersen et al., 2001; Gardner, 2001), although its basic application has a
lot in common no matter the setting. Thus, even in the unique sport setting, it is based on mutual
respect and positive regard for the athlete.
Several authors comment that sport psychology raises unique ethical issues. The historical
division between sport psychology and counseling psychology, combined with the relative lack
of integrated programs, raises questions of competence (Hays, 1995; Gayman & Crossman,
2006). Brown (2001) brings up this concern in the context of cross-training and suggests that
increases in the amount of exposure each group gets to other coursework and continuing
education in the "other" field will reduce the impact of any gap. Hays (1995) views the General
Principles and Standards of the APA Ethics Code as particularly applicable to sport psychology.
Relevant General Principles include Principle A (recognizing the boundaries of one's
professional competence), Principle B (accurately describing one's qualifications and services;
avoiding improper dual relationship), and Principle C (responsibly adapting methods to different
Brown (2001) proposes that sport psychologists evaluate each situation to determine a
whether a client seeking consultation for sports-related issues has problems in personal,
interpersonal, academic, or occupational sufficiently significant to suggest a diagnosable
condition. For a sport psychologist, this situation entails a shift in focus and therapeutic
techniques. For a sport psychology consultant, the client should be referred to another
professional (Gayman & Crossman, 2006). Anxiety is a common concern for athletes seeking
sport psychology consultation, and is often assessed by consultants on the first visit (O'Connor,
2004b). It is typically related to performance and is not evidence of an underlying anxiety
disorder. Similarly, depression is not unusual in injured athletes or athletes coping with
competitive loss, and eating issues/disorders are not unusual in athletes in sports where weight or
weight classification are important for performance. Assessment can determine whether the
problem merits a sport psychology or counseling orientation (Brown, 2001), but whomever is the
consultant will need to be able to conduct at least a basic initial assessment of need.
By the standards of most psychological specialties, certain practices intrinsic to sport
psychology are implicitly unethical. Consulting with an undressed client in a locker room,
accepting a client's phone call at 2AM, or even supplying an exhausted client with (legal and
endorsed) energy drinks are decidedly unorthodox. For sport psychologists and consultants,
particularly those who work with athletic teams, they are a normal part of professional practice
(Andersen et al., 2001; Gardner, 2001). Andersen et al. (2001) cite the issues of practice
settings, dual relationships, and confidentiality as posing special ethical challenges to the sport
The need to be available to clients in a wide variety of settings raises the issue of multiple
roles. Andersen et al. (2001) contend that in accordance with APA guidelines, "multiple roles
can be managed ethically by focusing on who is being served" (p. 13). The critical issue is that
the athlete is neither harmed nor exploited. Performing mundane acts (such as carrying water
bottles or uniforms) helps the athlete and may reinforce the therapeutic relationship rather than
compromise it. A related issue is "hanging out," which means being present in venues such as
weight rooms, golf practice greens, and hotel lobbies. Hanging out fosters rapport and allows the
consultant to offer advice during teachable moments (Andersen et al., 2001).
Confidentiality is a particular concern when services are provided in unconventional
settings (Andersen et al., 2001). The athlete is easily observed consulting the sport psychologist
or consultant. For example, a consultant received a phone call from a coach (with whom he
thought he had a neutral relationship) irately demanding to know why "the girls on the team" he
saw consulting the psychologist "are the same ones I am having trouble with" (pp. 14-15). The
athletes' concern was dealing with the coach and his leadership style. The prevalence of this
type of occurrence in team sports suggests that a family systems intervention might be a useful
addition to the sport psychologist's repertoire (Zimmerman & Protinsky, 1993).
Other problems may arise when a sport psychologist who works with and travels with a
team is perceived by the athletes as a "team buddy" (Andersen et al., 2001). This perception
may inhibit them openly discussion problems with the psychologist. Andersen et al. suggest that
sport psychologists and consultants proactively defuse potential problems by drawing a formal
proposal detailing the services provided to the team, including the rationale and rules for each
one and confidentiality issues would thus be written into the proposal. Additionally,
"Reminding athletes of confidentiality will help them understand the unique role of the sport
psychologist on a team" (p. 15). With respect to concerns over others overhearing the
psychologist consult with the athlete in a public place, the prudent thing to do is to seek out a
place where no one can hear, or if necessary, suggest that the issue be discussed in the
consultant's office or another private setting at a later time.
In detailing the application of sport psychology to professional sports, Gardner (2001)
confirmed each of the ethical issues addressed by Andersen et al. (2001). Sport psychologists
and consultants employed by professional teams may find themselves providing services to
coaches and managers in addition to athletes. The array of issues that consultants may confront
in working with a professional organization range from performance enhancement to family
issues (including domestic violence), stress management, and substance abuse. Some problems
are handled more effectively in individual counseling while others are conducive to
psychoeducational programs. Prospective areas for psychoeducational intervention include
preventive programs in family relations, anger management, financial management, and
substance abuse. Team psychologists may also offer career counseling for athletes
contemplating leaving professional sports.
Employment in a collegiate sports medicine center represents a potentially rewarding albeit
complex practice setting for a consultant (Andersen & Brewer, 1995). Each program has a
unique chain of accountability, authority, and responsibility that may traverse different
departments. The consultants may be feel pressured by conflicting interests in an environment
where, "The complicated inter-relationships among sports medicine, intercollegiate athletics,
student health, and the university, coupled with economic and political pressures to win, may
produce conflicts that adversely affect the organization's delivery of health care to student
athletes" (p. 63). The atmosphere, in turn, may impact the satisfaction of staff and interns, the
quality of care provided, the quality of the student athlete's experience in training, and the
willingness of student athletes to seek treatment. Therefore, understanding the ramification of
working in the collegiate sports medicine center entails understanding of its underlying
The ethical issues outlined by Andersen et al. (2001), particularly multiple roles and
confidentiality, are equally applicable to the collegiate sports medicine center. Psychologists or
consultants are also likely to be working with staff members as well as athletes, and of particular
note, to be working under two department supervisors (Andersen & Brewer, 1995). Andersen
and Brewer (1995) caution strongly against forming misalliancess," which is also advised by
Andersen et al. (2001). Andersen and Brewer (1995) note that the processes of working in a
collegiate sport center are also applicable to private sports medicine groups or clinics outside the
academic setting. Ironically, a knowledge base in social and organizational psychology may
have equally utility for helping sports teams achieve peak performing and helping the
psychologist negotiate the intricacies of the practice environment.
Although some settings appear to be breeding grounds for potential conflicts, there are
model programs that foster positive interactions among all participants. Student Services for
Athletes (SSA), jointly developed by the Center for Counseling and Student Development and
the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is an excellent example (Jordan & Denson, 1990).
The SSA program has four key service areas: 1) academic monitoring, 2) consultation services
with the university community, 3) outreach via workshops and special programs, and 4)
Jordan and Denson (1990) comment that the key factor in the success of the SSA program
is probably "the cultivation of very positive working relationships with coaches, athletic
administrators, and support staff' (p. 96). They also note that the hallmark of an effective
program is that it is utilized and considered helpful by the individuals for whom it was designed.
Evaluation data show that more athletes, coaches, and staff members become involved with the
program each year, and athletes have expressed positive comments about it. The program has
continuous quality improvement incorporated into the design, and is committed to tailoring and
refining its services to the needs of constituents on an ongoing basis.
The University of Washington introduced a partnership program between the clinical
psychology program and the intercollegiate athletics department (Leffingwell, Wiechman, Smith,
Smoll, & Christensen, 2001). Sport Psychology Services (SPS) was formally established in 1993
after almost 20 years of informal (and unpaid) collaboration between a clinical psychology
faculty member and the athletics department involving the provision of both performance
enhancement and mental health counseling. The innovative program has a number of
distinguishing features. These include a Coaches' Forum, a quarterly workshop devised for
coaches and staff; regular team interventions; performance enhancement with individual athletes;
and mental health and leadership consultation.
Leffingwell et al. note that performance enhancement accounts for about 43% of
consultations; a comparable proportion (42%) focus on more personal issues including
depression, anxiety, anger management, substance abuse, eating disorders, and life skills deficits.
An additional 15% of consultations begin with performance enhancement. As the therapeutic
alliance develops, the athlete eventually discloses that personal issues may underlie the
performance problems. The members of SPS offer four onsite treatment options: the Psychology
Training Clinic (staffed by graduate interns in clinical psychology, including SPS staff), the
Addictive Behaviors Research Center, the Student Counseling Center, and the Student Health
Center. The director of each center assists with the referral process. The researchers report that
the athletes typically see merit in performance enhancement, although a key issue in working
with student athletes in most collegiate environments is devising a schedule to overcome time
constraints (Andersen & Brewer, 1995; Jordan & Denson, 1990; Leffingwell, 2001).
Studies of North American athletes have shown a general reluctance among athletes to
seek psychological consultation. The proposed explanations include negative depictions of
psychologists in the media, perceived stigma associated with mental health counseling, and a
belief that seeking help is a sign of "weakness" and thereby a threat to personal autonomy
(Gayman & Crossman, 2006). Athletes may also feel that coaches and teammates will view
them negatively, causing a decline in performance or withdrawal from sports. These beliefs may
not extend to sport psychology consultation for the prime purpose of performance enhancement.
However, they do suggest a climate where sport psychologists may not be welcomed by athletes
A New Zealand study reported more favorable attitudes toward sport psychology
consultation (Anderson, Hodge, Lavallee, & Martin, 2004). The sample consisted of 112
predominately European New Zealand athletes and the researchers compared their results to
findings from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Counter to North American studies,
the New Zealand athletes expressed confidence in sport psychology, were generally open to sport
psychology consultation, and perceived no sense of stigma in working with a psychologist.
Anderson noted that these attitudes were also more positive than those expressed by British and
German athletes. However, of all national groups, Americans displayed the most negative
attitudes toward consulting a sport psychologist. The New Zealand athletes expressed the
highest preference for a sport psychologist who shared their cultural identity. Although this does
not appear to be a strong concern for U.S. athletes, the issue raises implications for striving
toward cultural diversity in sport psychology.
In the Anderson et al., 2004 study, female athletes expressed more confidence in sport
psychology consulting than their male counterparts and were more amenable to the prospect of
becoming involved with consultation. The authors relate this to gender socialization that makes
it less acceptable for men to disclose personal problems or admit vulnerability. However, there
is evidence that in the U.S., both female and male athletes are equally apprehensive about
seeking sport psychology consultation (Blom, Hardy, Burke, & Joyner, 2003). While neither age
nor competitive level had a significant impact on the attitudes of the New Zealand athletes
(Anderson et al., 2004), two factors did influence beliefs about sport psychology and both have
implications for sport psychology practice in the U.S. Specifically, athletes who had previously
engaged in consultation had more positive attitudes than those who did not, and the presence of a
supportive coach, team, and family significantly influenced intentions to consult a sport
psychologist. Therefore, enlisting the support of important others and of other athletes who have
gained benefits from consultation may play a key role in decreasing perceptions of stigma and
encouraging athletes to consult with a sport psychologist.
Blom et al. (2003) reported paradoxical findings in their study of 65 high school athletes
from a Southeastern rural community. Both male and female athletes had positive perceptions of
sport psychology and saw potential advantages in consulting a psychologist. They even felt that
coaches, referees, and others with problems could benefit from their services. At the same time,
they expressed strong concerns about "what people would think" if they went to a sport
psychologist. The rural location may have had some role in the powerful sense of stigma the
athletes perceived in the title "psychologist." On the other hand, qualitative responses suggest
that the desire of adolescents for peer acceptance may have been the overarching concern. Some
boys were afraid they would be picked on if they saw a psychologist and girls feared they would
be labeled "crazy." Rather than rooted in misconceptions about psychology, the teenage
athletes' concerns may reflect realistic fears of bullying or rejection.
The design of developmentally appropriate programs for children and adolescents is
another facet of sport psychology (Hinkle, 1994). The findings of Blom et al. (2003) suggest
that sport psychologists must be especially attuned to the impact of peer pressure on adolescents.
On the positive side, the teenage athletes had favorably perceptions of sport psychology and felt
that sport psychology services could benefit them and others in sports and other areas of life.
They desired to know more about sport psychology services and expressed a preference for team
or group consultation where participants could work together to resolve problems and support
one another. Team or group consultation also ensures that one has the support of peers. For
athletes reluctant to engage in consultation, Anderson et al. (2004) recommend devoting time to
extolling the advantages of sport psychology while dispelling myths and misconceptions, which
may be a prominent theme for any consultant working with youth athletes. Both Anderson et al.
(2004) and Blom et al. (2003) cite the development of a social support network as a mechanism
for overcoming barriers to consulting a psychologist.
Voight and Callahan (2001) explored the utilization of sport psychology consultants by
NCAA Division I universities for the 1998-1999 athletic year. The respondents were officials
from 115 NCAA Division I athletic departments representing the strongest athletic conferences
(ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Big West, Conference USA, MAC, PAC 10, SEC, and the
Fifty-one athletic departments (53%) relied on some form of sport psychology consulting
(Voight & Callahan, 2001. A majority relied on part-time consultants hired by coaches of
individual sports programs (n = 19), followed by part-time consultants hired by the athletic
departments (n = 10). Only seven departments made use of full-time consultants. The
consultants were compensated under a variety of pay arrangements, ranging from hourly rates, to
seminar rates, to full season fees. The pay scale also varied considerably.
The full-time positions seemed to evolve gradually, leading Voight and Callahan (2001) to
speculate how many emerged from part-time positions and how many of the part-time positions
might become full-time in the future. At the same time, the responses of representatives from
departments that did not use sport psychology consulting services had less promising
implications for the future of sport psychology in college sports. Some of the universities had
previously had full-time consultants who left to take other positions but were not replaced. Some
departments reported relying on graduate student interns instead, while three university
representatives declared the positions were not regarded as being "important enough."
According to Gardner (2001), psychologists who seek to pursue a consulting career with a
sports team "must always remember that when a team physician does poorly, the organization
maintains its involvement with medicine and replaces the practitioner. However, when a team
psychologist performs poorly, not only the practitioner, but the profession as well is, at least
temporarily, eliminated" (p. 38).
While conceding they did not delve into the reasons underlying the reluctance to replace a
full-time consultant, Voight and Callahan commented that their results "suggest that the sport
psychology profession is far from being granted 'full access' in collegiate athletic departments"
(p. 100). Among the athletic departments that had never called on the services of a sport
psychology department, the reasons included lack of funding and reliance on other university
counseling services. Some officials said they did believe sport psychology services were
"beneficial" because they did not "yield enough positive results" and therefore, are "not
considered a top priority" (p. 101). More optimistically, five universities said they planned to
hire a sport psychology consultant, six said the issue was under discussion, and nine said they
would "probably" hire a sport psychology consultant in the near future. Acknowledging that
47% of the departments had no immediate plans to hire a consultant, Voight and Callahan refer
to the utilization of sport psychology consultants in intercollegiate athletics as a "work-in-
progress" (p. 101).
Myers, Peyton, and Jensen (2004) conducted an experimental study of NCAA Division I
football players to assess their preferences for intervention during injury rehabilitation. The
study was devised on the premise that the athletes were generally favorable toward sport
psychology. Forty athletes were presented with scenarios depicting either a traditional cognitive-
behavioral sport psychology session or a humanistic, athlete-centered counseling session of the
type preferred by Holt and Strean (2001). Whereas the behavioral intervention focused on
mental skills, the humanistic intervention emphasized an empathetic, supportive therapeutic
alliance, acceptance, and emotional awareness.
As Meyers et al. (2004) anticipated, the athletes were highly favorable and accepting
toward sport psychology. Although this contradicts other research on American athletics, Myers
et al. view this as part of a general trend, at least among college athletics. The athletes had
positive perceptions of both the behavioral and humanistic interventions. There was a notable
correlation between years of experience in sports and acceptance of the behavioral intervention,
probably due to greater exposure. Although Myers et al. concede that acceptance and intention
do not necessarily translate into action, the findings have positive implications for sport
psychologists interested in intercollegiate consulting careers.
Weigand, Richardson, and Weinberg (1999) evaluated the effectiveness of a sport
psychology internship by examining the perceptions and experiences of 12 members of an
NCAA Division I women's basketball team and their head coach who worked with a sport
psychology intern over a season. With respect to valued consultant characteristics and
procedures, the qualities most valued in a sport psychologist included being helpful,
knowledgeable (about both mental skills and the specific sport), caring, understanding,
trustworthy, enthusiastic, communicative, task focused, very applied, and part of the team.
These findings are consistent with interviews derived from a prior study of Canadian athletes.
The college athletes also felt it was important that the consultant present them will mental skills
information at the adult level while also making it fun and present detailed information during
preseason talks, with review sessions conducted throughout the season. The athletes preferred
having information presented to them at home rather than during road trips (when they liked to
relax or study), and preferred the consultant not push them to "open up" but allow the athletes to
approach them when they were willing to learn.
The athletes considered mental skills such as goal setting, relaxation, positive self-talk,
confidence building imagery, focusing attention, and competition rehearsal to be useful both in
and out of basketball. Weigand et al. (1999) noted that while the athletes found the skills set
valuable as a whole, different athletes found different skills to be more or less useful.
Consequently, "sport psychology interns must therefore have an extensive array of techniques
available and be competent enough to evaluate each athlete's situation to determine which might
work best" (p. 101).
For in-depth evaluation of the intern's performance, Weigand et al. (1999) employed both
qualitative and quantitative research methods. A selling point of quantitative analysis is that it
can be used to create a normative that reference supervisors can use to assess internships. The
quantitative data can also become a useful measure of the interns' training prior to the internship
and can be applied to certification evaluations and assessments of potential complaints from
clients. A shortcoming of quantitative analysis is it can only generate limited responses. To
compensate, the researchers used open-ended questions and structured interviews so the athletes
could elaborate their perceptions. This method provided insights that would be lost using only
quantitative methods which is why Munroe-Chandler (2005) advocates greater use of qualitative
research strategies in exercise and sport psychology.
Weigand et al. (1999) consider the use of a two-stage evaluation, one stage at the end of
the season and the second two months late, to be an advance on the traditional mode of
evaluation that does not involve follow-up. Knowledge of the enduring benefits of mental skills
training is particularly valuable in view of the application of mental skills or areas of life beyond
sports. The evaluation was also unique in that it included interviews with the coach and with two
athletes that held divergent perspectives (one positive, one negative) on the utility of the sport
psychology consultant. The evaluation simultaneously demonstrated the effectiveness of the
internship and contributed a framework for further evaluation research.
Research Issues in Sport Psychology
The 1930 volume of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) boasted
Coleman Griffith's revolutionary article, "A Laboratory for Research in Athletics." Reviewing
the 75-year history of the publication, Weiss and Gill (2005) found several themes that span the
development of sport psychology in addition to themes that have recently surfaced. One of the
recurrent themes is sportsmanship (or sportspersonship) and moral development. The rubric of
moral development or "character building" includes leadership, self-control, and social
cooperation. A 1930 article entitled "Character Building Through Physical Education" laid out
the foundations of character development while criticizing physical educators for claiming that
athletic involvement builds character with minimal empirical research. Weiss and Gill describe
the topic as "eerily relevant today" (p. 71).
Ironically, Australian sport psychologists have recently condemned research on moral
behavior in sports for focusing on aggression while neglecting the qualities of good
sportspersonship that athletic involvement allegedly builds (Joyner & Mummery, 2005). The
underlying assumption is that sports encourages cooperation, courage, fairness, team loyalty,
teamwork, responsibility, and dealing with moral conflicts. Sport psychologists linking athletic
success to professional and life success play up these exemplary qualities (Orlick, 2000).
However, it is apparent to some that "sport can just as easily be seen to promote immoral or
unsportspersonlike behaviours such as cheating, aggressive behaviour and the use of illegal
performance enhancing drugs' (Joyner & Mummery, 2005, p. 48).
In their analysis of factors influencing sportspersonship orientation and behavior in youth,
Joyner and Mummery (2005) found that choice of sport (individual versus team) and goal
orientation (task versus performance) influenced sportspersonship orientation and behavior.
Specifically, young athletes in individual sports showed more respect for rules and officials than
their peers in team sports as did those with a high task/low ego goal orientation.
In essence, the study of Joyner and Mummery (2005) synthesized three prominent themes
in sport psychology: moral development, motivation (which includes goal orientation), and
Closely related to moral development is social development (Andersen et al., 1996; Weiss
& Gill, 2005). A specific context is the social psychology of the team, an area that has resisted
intensive research due to its complexity (Browne & Mahoney, 1984). Browne and Mahoney
observed that the traditional emphasis on teamwork ("There is no I in T-E-A-M) is being
supplanted with the idea of "The TEAM and I" (p. 617). Thus an area for sport psychologists in
practice is helping athletes negotiate an intricate balance between the self and the team, while
researchers examine the social forces that shape athletic teams. Both family systems principles
(Brown, 2001; Zimmerman & Protensky, 1993) and organizational principles (Jordan, Gillentine,
& Hunt, 2004) have been applied to team psychology and relate to these issues.
Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory occupies a prominent position in sport
psychology. A large body of research supports the critical role of self-efficacy in motivation in a
variety of domains (Bandura, 1997). Bandura's four sources of self-efficacy (mastery
experience, modeling, social persuasion, and the person's somatic and emotional states) are
routinely applied to the teaching of physical skills and enhancing athletic performance. Bandura
conceived of self-efficacy as domain specific, which makes it a useful construct for developing
sport-specific scales. At the same time, there is evidence for a more global sense of self-efficacy
linked with self-esteem. For the sport psychologist or consultant, self-handicapping, associated
with low self-esteem and self-efficacy, is an area for exploration (Martin & Brawley, 2002).
Stress is also a persistent issue in sport psychology (Felstein & Wilcox, 1993) that relates to
somatic and emotional influences on self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986, 1997).
Weiss and Gill (2005) identify three other key areas in sport psychology research that have
surfaced within the last 25 years: measurement development and validation, physical activity
adoption, and multidisciplinary approaches to psychological problems. This argument is shared
by others who note there is an accumulating body of research related to exercise adoption and its
impact on physical and psychological health (Hays, 1995), and that there is a predicted
increasing reliance on multidisciplinary collaboration within other related domains (i.e.,
counseling psychology, Neimeyer & Diamond, 2001; sports medicine, Miller et al., 2001).
Sport psychologists have access to more than 300 psychological tests they can apply to
assessing athletes (O'Connor, 2004b). According to O'Connor, the primary concern in the
selection of an appropriate instrument is its utility for practical application. Previous studies
discerned that two-thirds to three-quarters of sport psychology consultants use some type of
assessment tool, reflecting a wide range of instrument choices. To explore this issue, O'Connor
surveyed 50 consultants with backgrounds in psychology (n = 21), sport psychology (n = 120,
both psychology and sport psychology (n = 3), and physical education or sport science (n = 11).
Most respondents in this study worked in university or private practice settings.
Two-thirds of the consultants reported using questionnaires for assessment purposes
(O'Connor, 2004b). More than half reported their main areas of assessment were related to sport
psychology skills (in particular, focus, concentration, attention) and emotions (especially
anxiety). Interestingly, the respondents cited a total of 61 issues they addressed in assessments,
although sport psychology skills took first precedence. The most frequently used tests were the
POMS and the Test of Attentional and Interpersonal Style, choices consistent with other studies.
The tests were selectively administered to "some" athletes rather than routinely administered,
which O'Connor attributes to the problem-focus of sport psychology evaluation. Twenty-one
percent of the consultants reported using self-created assessment tools and although not
uncommon, this practice is controversial on the grounds that these measures may be redundant,
unreliable, or even harmful.
The POMS remains a staple of sport psychology (O'Connor, 2004b; Raglin, 2001).
Broadly, the POMS is derived from the mental health model (MHM) of sport performance that
postulates an inverse correlation between psychological distress and athletic performance. As
the term "mood states" implies, the POMS does not measure fixed personality traits, but dynamic
states subject to internal and external influences. The goal of the model is to induce a state of
being conducive to peak performance and attempt to remove influences (notably stress and
anxiety) that negatively impact performance.
Raglin (2001) notes that there have been calls to "abandon the POMS" due to suggestions
that it may be used unethically to screen athletes, and alternately, that it is not effective for
assessing peak performance states. Raglin argues that the POMS shows limited utility for
screening athletes thus it is both impractical and unethical for that purpose. However, an
impressive body of research demonstrates its effectiveness for assessing athletes' dynamic states
While there have been numerous measures created to help sport psychologists and sport
psychology consultants better assess athletes, there are still significant areas in need of
improvement within the quality and consistency of research measurement within the field. In
addition, there are a number of issues that have not themselves been studied, but have a large
impact on the fields' research and practice, such as the use of qualitative research methods, and
the support for even more field-based research. As Kerry and Armour (2000) argued, the use of
qualitative methods has become commonplace, however there is still some need to "defend" its
use, which takes away from the legitimacy and utility of the results and interpretation of the
studies who use these methods.
Credentialing Issues in Sport Psychology
There has been significant discussion within the field of sport psychology over the last ten
years about the place of credentialing within the field. As the field has grown, and as it has
established itself as legitimate within the constructs of other related fields (i.e., counseling, sports
medicine, etc.), many of its members have sought to establish a way to identify themselves as
experts within the field. In addition to the inherent desire to distinguish the competent from the
less-so, sport psychology's membership also recognized that all the field which it relates and/or
complements have an existing system of expertise identification. For example, counseling and
clinical psychologists must be licensed, and in addition, have other certifications and
proficiencies for their particular specialty (American Psychological Association, 2000).
While the debate about whether any credential is needed has been replaced with
discussions about what credential will be valid and valuable, the issue is far from being resolved
(Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). In their position paper on competencies for practicing sport
psychologists and sport psychology consultants AAASP recognizes that there is not clear
credential that is agreed upon, although their organization offer certification based upon
supervised experience and educational degree (AAASP, 2005). Other organizations offer similar
or related types of certification or expert recognition based on membership (e.g., USOC
registry). Some members of the field have suggested that instituting a licensure requirement, as is
true in other related fields and already exists for psychologists within the field for their own core
profession. In contrast to this, many professionals have argued against the idea of licensure.
Summary of Literature
Sport psychology is a fledgling practice area that is continually evolving in accordance
with advances in science, technology, and social trends within and outside of the professional
domain. There is a growing trend toward a paradigm of interdisciplinary collaboration and with
its interdisciplinary roots, sport psychology is ideally positioned to carve an important niche as a
growing field. In addition to issues related to where sport psychology "fits," the field has
frequently reflected on who makes up its constituents. Sport psychology has historically been
divided into sport psychology consultants whose emphasis is performance enhancement, and
sport psychologists (who are clinical or counseling psychologists) who provide counseling on
more serious psychological issues (Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). There is clear evidence that a
significant proportion of athletes require counseling in areas beyond performance enhancement,
with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and anger management are among
the most common problems observed in athletes. Sport psychology consultants must be
adequately prepared to work with athletes on a number of personal issues, and also be aligned
with a referral network when those issues are beyond their scope of training. For sport
psychologists, the need may be increased cross-training in the technical aspects of sport
psychology intervention. Also an area of recent exploration has been the diversity of the field,
although nothing more than examinations and recommendations are evidenced in the literature.
These core issues of who makes up the field, how it sits in relation to other related fields, and
how it means to serve to benefit others appear to be crucial areas of inquisition.
Despite burgeoning interest in sport psychology careers, and an apparent growth in the
number of graduate programs offering degrees (Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002), there is a dearth of
information available on what new entrants to the field need to be successful (which degree to
pursue) and how they can accomplish the goal of being a well rounded consultant without
integrated graduate programs. At the same time there are few professionals who have lucrative
consulting practices entirely in the field of sport psychology, with most individuals involved in
education or research (or both). For all employed within the field, they are more likely to have
degrees in sport science than psychology, although the number of psychologists entering the field
may be growing. Opportunities are especially limited for individuals with a master's degree
unless sport psychology is part of a broader professional practice (Williams & Scherzer, 2003).
Calls for an increase in available training are slow to be answered, especially formal
opportunities like internships and continuing education, while interest in the field remains high.
Maybe most importantly to training within the field is credentialing, as how future consultants
are trained may largely depend on what they need to demonstrate to some internal or external
body of governance, much the way that psychologist's training does. These training issues
appear to be both current and predictive of the next several years in the field, according the
The research paradigms that have historically dominated the field are losing favor as
"stand-alone" approaches, while some newer models continue to grow in popularity. Qualitative
research seems to have gained "a place at the table" (Kerry and Armour, 2000) but the question
of how to fully integrate that knowledge, and the relative importance of its ecological validity is
yet to be determined. In addition, new, more sophisticated quantitative methods have emerged
throughout the history of the field. Some of these have come from within the field, while some
have been adopted from other fields. Many calls for integrated research have been made, hoping
to combine the best of both quantitative and qualitative approaches (Kerry and Armour, 2000;
Weiss & Gill, 2005). Despite this, no clear direction has been established to guide researchers in
this new paradigm, and there continues to be a struggle to merge field research with lab studies
within the research arena.
Only in the last decade has the issue of credentialing made significant impact on the field's
conversations. But as sport psychology gains credibility as a legitimate practice and joins (or
attempts to join) those fields which enjoy reimbursement benefits from insurance carriers and
government entities for this practice, being recognized as "expert" by some means has become
more important. As a young field, the idea of establishing some criteria for demonstrated
expertise also protects the field from low performers and charlatans, who may detract from the
field's status if not otherwise weeded out. Various ideas have been promulgated, including
licensure, certification, and proficiency, but disagreement at every level has existed since the
idea was first offered (Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). Sport psychology as a field has often
mimicked its efforts after the fields of counseling and clinical psychology (to which is has a
strong relation in theory and practice), but has yet to determine if its credentialing needs are
similar or different from these other related fields. Determining who can be identified as
appropriately "expert" will likely dominate current and future conversations for members of this
METHODS AND MATERIALS
The purpose of this study was to predict future developments in the field of sport
psychology over the next 10 years. To accomplish this, the Delphi method was used, as it is
regarded as the most useful tool in identifying future trends within in a field (Adler & Ziglio,
1996; Linstone & Turoff, 2002). In its most basic form, the Delphi method surveys a number of
experts from a specific field, without allowing them to interact with one another, and treats their
averaged answers as useful predictions about the future. Originally developed in the 1950's, the
Delphi method was created by the RAND corporation as a way to improve forecasting in
technology trends as it related to the military (Cornish, 1977). It has since been used in a variety
a fields and for a variety of predictive purposes. The original need that drove its development
continues to make it useful today: in younger fields the testimony of a number of qualified
experts can accurately project the future of the field (Fowles, 1978).
The Delphi method has been used in a number of fields over the last 50 years. This
includes the field it was originally introduced in: military technology, as well as health,
education, business, and economics (Linstone & Turoff, 2002). In addition, fields more closely
aligned with sport psychology, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and mental health, have used
the Delphi method to offer predictions in their respective fields (Anderson, Parente, & Gordon,
1981; Neimeyer & Diamond, 2001; Prochaska & Norcross, 1982). So while no currently
published study in the field of sport psychology has used this method to predict future trends,
there is good support for its use in a number of related fields that have also attempted to better
understand where the field was headed.
The basic tenet of the Delphi method is that consensus by a panel of experts within in a
given field will lead to a more accurate prediction of future trends than any single expert opinion
(Martino, 1978). Experts, isolated from one another, are asked to give their opinion on a number
of issues related to their field. The results of this first round of responses are then averaged and
fed back to those experts, so that they can review the group's mean scores and make any
adjustments to their original answers based on these results. This second round of data-gathering
then becomes the final results of the survey and is interpreted to be the consensus of the group.
There are three key elements in the process of administering the Delphi poll: 1) structuring
information flow, 2) feedback to the participants, and 3) anonymity for the participants (Martino,
1978). The advantage of using these three processes in surveying the expert panel is that it
eliminates the negative dynamics (and consequences) typically associated with committees and
other group meetings.
The first element, structuring of information flow, serves to keep members "on task" and
eliminates unnecessary communications (Dalkey, 1972). In committees that require face to face
interaction, there is often non-task activity taking place that distracts from the goal of reaching
consensus, thus the single point of contact in the Delphi method is the moderator, or researcher,
conducting the survey. Through out the survey period, only information about the questions
originally presented are either given or received from each of the panelists, eliminating any
The second element important to the success of the Delphi method is the fact that
participants receive feedback on their responses. By giving each expert panelist exposure to the
results of the other panelists' responses, they can choose to modify their own answers without
fear of reprisal (Martino, 1978). The goal is not complete agreement, but instead, movement
towards a type of consensus in which the range of responses is narrowed and variance decreased.
Third, the benefit of using multiple experts is not only less individual bias, but a more
comprehensive view of the possible future trends. While improving the breadth and depth of the
expertise by surveying more than one expert, the Delphi method also accomplishes an important
protection for participants by not identifying individual opinions within the group. Fowkes
(1978) identifies this as the single most important factor in the Delphi methods' success. That is,
panel members will not be unduly influenced by a dominant group member or hesitant to change
their opinion in order to save face. With this "safeguard" in place, participants are free (from
personal or political pressure) to maintain their original scores or move more closely in
alignment with the overall scores for the group.
Another reason for the use of the Delphi method is its ease of administration and low cost
(Fish & Piercy, 1987; Linstone & Turoff, 2002). This argument is made more robust by the
advent of technologies such as the internet, web-based surveying, and communication via email.
A panel of 20 experts was selected (see Appendix A), with the goal of capturing those who
were best positioned to predict the future trends within sport psychology. Because "the results
are only as valid as the opinions of the experts who make up the panel" (Martino, 1978), the
selection criteria for panel membership was a key component to this study.
The panelists selected for inclusion this study consisted of: 1) the current chief-editors and
associate editors for major sport psychology journals (The Sport Psychologist, The Journal of
Applied Sport Psychology, and The Journal of Exercise & Sport Psychology), and 2) the
presidents, president-elects, and last five past presidents of major sport psychology professional
organizations (AAASP, Division 47 of APA, and NASPSPA). There are several reasons behind
this categorization, including breadth and depth of experience, representativeness, and efficiency.
First, it is assumed that the use of these senior leaders within sport psychology fills the
need to have panel members with appropriate vision for the future. That is, their self-evident
high level of success and relative tenure in the field has given them a good view of the field and
where it is headed. Second, by choosing panel members from among the leaders of these two
groups (professional organizations and journals), a broad and representative view will be gained,
because membership is spread out over various areas within the field (academic vs. applied,
different geographies, various training backgrounds, varying exposure to current trends, etc.).
Last, the need to have a reasonable cut-off for inclusion promotes the use of a group that has a
limited and identifiable membership. As this Delphi study only requires a small, representative
sample of the population, the group members selected for this study meet that goal.
A total of 12 expert panelists agreed to participate in this study, and 9 of these participants
completed the second round of Delphi polling. The three experts who did not complete the
second round of data collection were represented by their counterparts who did participate in
both rounds, on all dimensions (gender, education, etc.). One expert who was solicited indicated,
before the first round began, that they were not well positioned to comment on the field at the
current time, and thus declined to participate which reduced the total panel size to 19. In
comparison to the total number of expert panelists solicited for this Delphi study, the 9 final
panel members reflect a representative sample in years of expertise (16.2 years in the field),
gender (67% male, 22% female, and 11% not identified), and employment (44% academic
research, 34% combined research and applied work, and 22% applied work). The panel may
under-represent those with an education in counseling/clinical psychology (77% sport science,
11% psychology, and 11% both sport science and psychology) and people of color (100%
White). However, while the percentages of psychologist and people of color would be grossly
low for representing the field as a whole, they are in fact representative of the leadership of the
field, and therefore are an appropriate sample of experts available for this study based on the
As part of the first round polling, panel members were asked to indicate if they believed
any other experts should be included in this survey on the future of sport psychology. This was
done in an effort to capture any experts in the field that may not have been accounted for through
the sampling method used herein. The criteria established for inclusion was if two or more
current panelist listed an expert, they would be included in the study. However, no person met
this standard, so the original sample remained intact and stable.
Thus, this sample is taken as representative of the population of experts available to
respond to this Delphi poll on the future of sport psychology.
The survey items were selected from the literature, based on the most consistent historical
and emergent themes within the field. These items were oriented around four central themes: 1)
the core identity of the field, 2) training issues, 3) research issues, and 4) credentialing issues.
These four key areas of study were drawn from a review of the literature, specifically areas that
have been proposed or examined as potential trends within the field. The survey was
administered on the web, with participants being contacted through email (see Appendix B for
the introductory email). They were asked to click on a hyper-link that took them to the website
where the survey was contained (see Appendix C for a copy of the survey). Because the survey
was administered over two rounds, the participants visited the site on two occasions, the second
time at the prompting of the researcher once the first round of data collection is complete. The
purpose of collecting two rounds of data from the panel was to further reduce the standard
deviations for each item (Marino, 1978), which were interpreted to indicate level of consensus.
Only the final mean scores for each item is interpreted, with the relative likelihood of each
item being determined by its relative ranking by the expert panel's "consensus." Each item's
average score was examined in comparison to the category it falls in (research issues) as well as
the rest of the items in the survey. The likely direction of the field is argued based on the idea
that the "more likely" the panel ranks issues, the more likely they are to actually occur in the
The results of the Delphi poll can be viewed in Table 6-1. The table lists 29 questions that
were presented to the participants, as well as the means and standard deviations for each item for
each round of polling. Only the means from the final round are interpreted, as is standard
practice in Delphi polls. Standard deviation reductions are considered meaningful indications of
increased consensus among panel members, and this occurred in this study, with general
decreases from the first round of polling to the second. This supports other Delphi research that
suggests that decreased standard deviations across polling rounds indicates an increased
consensus among panelists (Dalkey & Helmer, 1963), and therefore increased confidence in the
predictive power of the results of the Delphi poll.
A caveat to the general findings of a reduction in standard deviations across Round 1 and
Round 2 polling is that a number of items saw little or no change in the variance of scores,
despite the overall majority of standard deviations decreasing. This is interpreted at several
levels: global, categorical, and item-level. As mentioned above, the general decrease in this
measure of tendency is interpreted to indicate a global move towards greater consensus across
the group as a whole. Nineteen of twenty-nine items saw a reduction in standard deviation, and
this is viewed as providing support for the overall validity of the Delphi polling method in this
study, which used reductions in this measure to support arguments about consensus-building.
In addition to the global results, changes in standard deviation can be examined at the
categorical level (core identity issues, etc.). At this level, decreases were most evident in
categories that received the highest means (core identity issues), and were least likely to decrease
in categories that received lower scores overall (credentialing issues). This is interpreted to
further support the use of this measure to understand consensus, as it points to the fact that trends
that are perceived as likely are generally agreed upon, while trends that are less likely show a
greater range of support from panel members.
Finally, specific individual items in the study saw a reduction in standard deviation from
Round 1 to Round 2, and this is interpreted to mean that these specific items gained consensus
across polling. Of note, a number of items reflected no change (or even an increase) in standard
deviation in the second polling, even while maintaining a consistent mean score. Because only
mean scores are interpreted in this study, any individual item increase in standard deviation is not
interpreted in depth later in the study. However it is recognized here that changes in standard
deviation (either increases or decreases) can be more easily influenced in small samples (such as
when only eight of eleven experts participated in the second round of polling in this study).
Core Identity Issues
With respect to the core identity issues within sport psychology, several key findings
emerged. The strongest predictions revolved around issues related to the diversification and
expansion of the field. The highest item within this core identity category was "draw on other
fields' theories and approaches to inform its own direction and growth (counseling and clinical
psychology)" (M = 4.33), while the second-highest average was "move towards an
interdisciplinary approach" (M =4.11). In addition, it is seen as likely that the field will "rely
more on a strengths-based approach" (M = 3.89). These three items all indicate a likelihood that
the field will expand its identity and approach, increasingly using the knowledge gained by more
mature fields to inform its own development. This finding aligns with previous research by
(Weiss & Gill, 2005). Throughout its relatively short identification as a distinct field of study,
sport psychology has often adopted useful perspectives and approaches from counseling and
clinical psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences. This willingness and ability
to take a multidisciplinary approach is probably both built out of unintentional forms (its
founders and early leaders emerged from other fields) and intentional acts (leaders recognizing
the efficiency in adopting established practices that inherently align with the field's values and
objectives). Given the results here, it appears that the use a number of other related fields of
study to inform the field of sport psychology will continue over the next decade.
In addition to support for multiple sciences informing the development of the identity of
the field, it appears that there will be an increase in focus on the diversity. While a number of
prominent leaders in the field have called for a widespread increase in diversity issues, research,
and recruitment (see Williams and Scherzer, 2003), the field remains overwhelmingly
homogenous along a number of dynamics, most evidently, ethnicity. In a field where a large
group of the consumers of the practice of sport psychology (athletes) are of color, those studying
and applying sport psychology remain distinctly White (including the experts involved in this
study). Despite this history and the current state of diversity, one of the most likely trends
identified in this study was an "increase it's focus on diversity issues" (M = 4.11). This may be
an indicator of the belief that there will be an increase in the diversity within the field, or it may
simply be a prediction that research within the field will focus on these issues with athletes,
coaches, and sports organizations. While this study did not distinguish for its participants the
difference between becoming more diverse and focusing on other's diversity, it's hard to
construct a scenario where there is increasing likelihood of focusing on these issues "externally"
(how ethnicity impact sport satisfaction in team sports) while ignoring them "internally" (barriers
to entry into sport psychology Master's programs for non-native English speaking
undergraduates). Thus, the results of this study suggest an increased focus on diversity issues, in
all respects, is likely over the next ten years.
Another trend that is expected to continue is that the sport psychology will "continue to
grow as a field (number of new professionals entering graduate programs and the workforce)"
(M = 3.78). There have been a small number of published studies on the growth of the field,
which have generally shown continued growth (Williams & Scherzer, 2003). The predictions
offered here by the experts that participated in this study would suggest that this trend will
continue. While there are limiting factors in place, such as the capacity for graduate programs to
keep pace with interest in the field, the possibility of a "fatiguing" of those interested in the field
after "invigorating" events (the Olympics), and a risk that potential sport psychologists become
disillusioned given the limited career choices possible (Van Raalte & Williams, 1994), there is a
clear expectation that the number of people entering the field will continue to increase over the
next decade. Reasons for this are cited in past research and commentary, including the exciting
and dynamic nature of the field, the chance to work with a high functioning population, and the
opportunity to be part of an emerging field (Williams & Scherzer, 2003). It would appear then
that these factors will continue to outpace the negative/limiting factors to the growth of the field
over the next ten years.
The likelihood of the field will "increasingly use research based interventions" (M = 3.89)
appears to be moderate. This finding parallels a similar issue examined within the Research
Issues category of this study, but differs in that it relates directly to the practice of sport
psychology. This relative ranking in the middle of the items making up core identity suggests
that while this may not be a more likely trend than some other key issues, it is an area that is
expected to increase over the next ten years.
Of the 8 items relating to Core Identity, predictions were the weakest for "be reimbursed
for sport psychology services through 3rd party payers (insurance companies)" (M = 2.33). This
is not surprising given the relatively low likelihood given in the credentialing section to licensure
within the field of sport psychology. With the expectation that licensure will not be a part of
credentialing, it follows as somewhat unlikely that insurance companies will begin to pay for
services. As such, not being recognized as a field who "deserves" reimbursement from insurance
companies will serve to identify sport psychology as something different and separate from other
fields (counseling/clinical psychology). While this study does not examine the impact of this
difference in designation, the difference is clearly expected to remain.
Also falling at the lower end of predicted likelihood within the core identity category was
"attract and retain primarily sport science-trained professionals" (M = 2.78). This finding is
aligned with other findings within this study, whereby the consensus is that the field will become
increasing diverse in its membership, training and practice.
It was found that that there will be a focus on making research more valuable to
practitioners through integration and application. The average scores for "focus largely on
applied research" (M = 3.89) and "rely on academic research integrated with field research" (M
= 4.11) demonstrates the expectation that research aimed at helping practitioners will be a focus
within the field. The use of applied research has dominated the field of sport psychology for a
number of years (see Kerry and Armour, 2000), but there has been a slower integration of
academic and practical research practices. So while many academics have research programs that
focus on improving the performance and well-being of athletes (applied research), there are less
examples of integrated research programs or academic labs that are couched within "real-world"
contexts (integrated research). This has most likely been driven by the economics of academic
life, in that researchers housed within traditional academic departments are rewarded for
scientific contribution (number of publications and grants), not impact on the practice of the
field. And while there has been a call for more integration and synergy, this issues has not
changed significantly in the last 5-10 years. Despite this, the experts involved in his study,
predict a good likelihood that not only will the amount of applied research remain high within
the field, but also that more integration between field and lab research will occur. This finding
contrasts with the last 10 years within the field, and thus represents an important shift in
Also indicated as having some, although limited, likelihood were to "focus extensively on
the development and validation of measures to be used within the field" (M = 3.33) and a "focus
on more sophisticated research methodologies" (M = 3.67), which both suggest that there is
some chance, although not great, that the tools with which researchers will be operating will
change greatly in the next 10 years. This finding is somewhat surprising, given the other findings
in this study (as well as other literature) that clearly shows sport psychology adopting the
effective approaches of other fields that it is closely aligned with. Given this tendency, it might
be expected that this field would follow the trend within counseling and clinical psychology to
pursue and adopt more sophisticated research methods (see The Counseling Psychologist, 17(1),
1989). While the absolute scores indicate some likelihood (they were both above 3.0), neither
rose near the top of this category or the survey as a whole, suggesting they are seen as less likely
than a number of other trends within the field over the next 10 years.
It has been suggested that one of the areas that will occupy an increasingly important
position within the field is the social aspect of sport participation, or the non-performance issues
(Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). As sport psychology looks to provide more and more valuable
research and practices, it may expand its focus outside of the traditional areas of performance
enhancement. This expectation is supported by the finding herein that the field will "increase its
focus on the social aspects of sport participation" (M = 3.89). This expected increase may be
driven by several things, including the desire to take a more wholistic approach to sport
psychology issues and/or the need to reach a broader audience (i.e., non-elite athletes). While
this item doesn't distinguish whom this issue relates to or will impact, it signals an modest
expectation that these issues will occupy in increasing role in the field over the next 10 years.
Occupying the lowest levels of predicted occurrence was that the field would "have a
significant increase in the number of peer-reviewed journals" (M = 2.78). The field of sport
psychology is still a relatively young one, with its origins only traceable back 100 years or so,
and its contemporary form only re-emerging again 50 years ago. Since that time, a number of
professional journals have been created and sustained an important place in the science and
practice of its members (The Sport Psychologist). Despite this historical growth, the predictions
offered here would indicate that the number of publications has reached a saturation point, with
few otherjournals likely. While this finding doesn't preclude a small increase in the number of
journals, and the factors pushing for an increase (or decrease) are not explored here, it appears
that the current offerings will meet the needs of the field over the next 10 years.
The issue of how to train future professionals within the field of sport psychology, like any
young field, is crucial to its future (as well as its present). Within this category, several key
themes emerged based on the expectations of the expert panel. Most clearly, it is expected that
training in the field will become more diverse. A number of items reflect this, including: "focus
on an inter-disciplinarian approach (psychology students taking courses in sport science
departments)" (M = 4.11). This prediction suggests that it is likely that graduate training will
increasingly rely on other departments and programs to "fill in the gaps" that their students
would otherwise have. For example, a student from a sport science Master's program might take
several courses in the university's psychology department, or vice versa. This prediction is in
stark contrast to previous research among counseling psychology graduate programs, which
revealed that 93.8% of psychology programs did not offer a sport psychology course at the
undergraduate level and 92.2% did not provide a course in sport psychology at the graduate level
(Petrie & Watkins, 1994).
It is seen as somewhat likely that programs will "increase training in mental health issues
for sport science-trained professionals" (M = 3.89). This issue specifically relates to the idea that
sport psychology consultants who are trained in sport science who work directly with athletes
need competence in mental health issues, which has become common-place in recommendations
for new professionals (Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). The need to have at least basic
understanding of mental health issues (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.) appears to have
created an expectation that this kind of training will increase in the coming years.
An increase in the diversity of types of training given future professionals will likely be
expanded to also include broader training for current professionals in the field. It is seen as fairly
likely that the field will "offer more continuing education that promotes cross-training between
sport sciences and clinical/counseling psychology" (M = 4.11).
The findings in this category promote the expectation that, overall, there will be an
increase in the inter-disciplinarian approach that the field uses in training, whether it's new or
experienced professionals, sport science or psychology graduates. To some degree this may
support Andersen et al.'s (2001) prediction that, "It is highly likely that in the future, the
education, training, and practice of sport psychology will come to look more like a species of
counseling psychology and less like performance enhancement training" (p. 13).
This view that training will be diversified and accomplished through expanding the field's
reliance on other sources of expertise is contrasted to some degree through other findings in this
category. One item surveyed here shows this in particular, "focus on specialty training within
psychology and sport science graduate programs" (M = 4.00). The relatively high average given
this item indicates a likelihood that programs will increasingly offer specialty training, which
may seem to argue against the likelihood that there will be a diversification within training (as
suggested by other results of this study). However, it may also be the case that there may be a
general move towards diversification and cross-training, but that within graduate programs there
will be more "track-based" training (specialty tracks that are chosen upon entrance to the
program). Thus, graduate students in sport science and psychology programs may experience a
more focused training program within their program, with less exposure to "general" training
within the respective field, and at the same time an increase in the number of courses taken in the
"complimentary" program. This same trend can be observed in the field of psychology, which
has adopted the specialty approach (counseling, social, behavioral, etc.), and yet practitioners
often gain cross-training in other field to supplement their "focused" training.
Other results showed moderate likelihood based on the predictions of the panel, including
issues related to supervision and internships. Scores for an "increase it's focus on supervision
during graduate training" (M = 3.89) and that the field would "offer specialized internships in
sport psychology for graduate students" (M = 3.22) both fell in the midrange for this category.
With some likelihood predicted, it can be expected that the amount of formal supervision (which
may fall under the umbrella of an internship) will grow, although the nature of this supervision is
The relatively lower score for the item on internship suggests that this may not be the
mode by which most sport psychology graduate student gains their practical competence.
Currently, there are only a handful of specialized pre-doctoral internships that offer sport
psychology training for Counseling and Clinical Psychology graduates (Ohio State University
Counseling Center), while there are a growing (though limited) number of such internships for
those in the sport sciences. This finding, coupled with the amount of time it often takes to start or
create a new training program such as an internship, would seem to expose the fact that in the
next 10 years there will be limited growth in the availability of such internships.
Falling at the lower range of scores within this category, although still above the midpoint
(and therefore at least somewhat likely), were several items relating to degrees and post-degree
employment. The likelihood that there would be a "focus on graduate training that results in a
Ph.D." (M = 3.56) was seen as moderate, which aligns with other research indicating more
students are going "beyond" the Master's level (Williams & Scherzer, 2003), although this fact
may be largely driven by sport science graduates, who have historically sought out Master's
degrees at a much higher rate that psychology students. This is likely due to the requirements for
practicing psychologists to obtain a Ph.D., whereas Master-level sport science graduates are
employable in a broader setting. This may be changing however, with the "bar" being set higher
for even those sport scientist who are in the field of sport psychology, as their academic
counterparts already must have their Ph.D. and all of their psychologist counterparts must as
This may relate to another issue investigated here, which the likelihood of a "focus more
on graduate training that leads to academic jobs rather than applied jobs" (M= 3.33). This
received scores indicating low, but positive, likelihood. Given the current distribution of jobs
available to sport psychologists and sport psychology consultants, it should be no surprise that
academia is more likely to be a goal for graduate students than applied positions, and according
to the predictions here, training will reflect that in the coming years. Also within Training Issues
was the items suggesting that the field would "increase the number of "hands on" graduate
training programs that lead to applied positions" (M = 3.33). Again, this relatively low score for
this category suggests that graduate programs will maintain their current level of hands on
training aimed at applied positions, which fits in with the other results in this study suggesting
that there will be a balanced goal of training both academic and applied professionals, with
academia with slightly more focus.
Interestingly, when compared to the other areas within this study, training issues occupied
the one of the highest overall averages, and also lacked any scores that fell below the midpoint
(3.00) indicating the highest overall likelihood that the issues captured herein would occur. An
alternate explanation would be that the items captured within this category were differentially
representative of the issues found within the literature, thus limiting any low/unlikely scores.
However, even if true, this would indicate a relative focus of the literature, from which these
issues and items were dawn, on training issues or trends that are likely to happen. This in and of
itself may signal a "bias" built into the perceptions of those with a good view of the future of the
field, thus still having an impact. It would appear then, that training issues on the whole would
occupy an increasingly important place within the field, and that the specific issues that makeup
this training will become more and more likely.
The issue of credentialing has been at the forefront of discussions within the field for a
number of years now, and based on the relatively low and mixed scores given in this category,
disagreement continues to reign. Historically there has been little agreement on whether any kind
of credentialing is necessary within sport psychology, and if so, what type (Van Raalte,
1994;Van Raalte & Brewer, 2002). The findings here suggest that this disagreement remains, and
yet will be an important driver of training within the field in the coming years. For example, the
most likely occurrence in this category was the prediction that the field would "increase graduate
training that focuses on meeting the criteria for particular credentials (certification, licensure,
etc.) (M = 4.11). While this may make sense on its face, no other research has reported on this or
commented on the relative importance this has for how current and future sport psychology
graduate students are trained.
Given the predicted likelihood that training in sport psychology graduate programs will be
engineered, at least in part, around the credentialing process, the crucial question that has to
predate this curriculum modification is, "What is the right credential?" The findings of this study
offer more questions than answers along this front, with no specific item scoring even
"Somewhat Likely" on average. Further, the expectation is that there is minimal likelihood that
the field will "have a number of different certifications offered by various professional groups"
(M = 3.44) and that it is somewhat unlikely that it will "rely on a certification administered by a
single professional association (M = 2.67). Taken with the finding that it is not particularly likely
that the field will "have credentialing standards that are accepted between all professional
organizations" (M = 3.33), the predictions from the experts in this study shed limited light into
One of items in this category occupied the absolute lowest score within the study: "have
licensure granted to individuals by their respective state" (M = 2.33). It may be that this is seen
as unlikely for a number of reasons, including the training necessary to meet the increased
standards that licensure brings, an opposition to the concept of state-supported credentialing, or
simply a view that this will happen but just not in the next 10 years. The causes for why it is
viewed as unlikely that licensure will be part of how sport psychology practitioners verify their
competence to external audiences is not made clear in this study, nor others, but its unlikely
In addition to the licensure issue, other items related to credentialing were not viewed as
very likely to occur in the next decade, such as "only be reimbursed by insurance companies if
the professional has a particular credential" (M = 3.44). Clearly licensure is not viewed as the
likely credential, but neither is there clarity that other distinct credentialing options are likely.
Thus it may be no surprise that there is limited expectation that insurance companies will pay for
sport psychology services unless they have a certain credential either because the expectation is
that sport psychologists will not be licensed (in sport psychology), or because no agreed upon
credential will exist.
Most of the issues identified in the literature point to an ongoing debate about the
usefulness of any credentialing (does having a credential make the field or any individual within
the field more credible?) and, if useful, what should the credential be? Made clear by this Delphi
poll is that disagreement remains among experts, as the standard deviations within this category
are the highest within the study and there is no outstanding (high) score among the various
credentialing options presented.
This study's purpose was to discover the predicted future of the field of sport psychology
over the next ten years. In viewing the results of this Delphi poll several themes emerged, often
in alignment with past predictions or current realities within the field.
Overall, continued diversification and expansion of the field in its training and practice
efforts is a clear expectation. There was a consensus that interdisciplinary training and
approaches would dominate the landscape of the field in the future, suggesting that the recent
tendency within the field to draw from other areas and use new models will continue. This
expansion of the core identity of the field of sport psychology is an interesting one, as it would
seem to suggest that the field has not yet reached "maturity." It may, for a number a years to
come, seek to test and incorporate new (or newly adopted) constructs, methods, and paradigms.
An important part of this search for a mature identity will come from those who move the field
forward, and thus the membership of the field will not only respond to the field's identity, but
also drive it.
Therefore, in addition to an increased focus on new ways of defining the field in research
and practice, key issues around the diversity of sport psychology will expand. With the recent
awareness-raising regarding the lack of diversity within the field of sport psychology, this study
suggests that this may be triggering an expectation that diversity issues will come to play an
important part of the field over the next decade. This supports the expectations of previous
authors (Van Raalte, 1994), based on the field's own literature and the parallels that sport
psychology has shared with clinical and counseling psychology. That is, an emergence of
diversity issues in related fields has followed a period of focus on other dominant themes within
that field. Just as counseling psychology both expected and experienced (Neimeyer & Diamond,
2001) a shift in focus to diversity issues in the last 10-15 years, sport psychology seems to also
be likely to make a similar shift.
In regard to the important issue of credentialing, the findings here demonstrate the
continued mix of expectations that experts within the field hold, suggesting that this issue will
not be resolved anytime soon. There is some agreement that licensure will not be a part of sport
psychology, but little agreement about what other type of credential (certification) offered by
which body (one or more professional organizations) will come to pass. This issue may come to
a head sooner that predicted however, were an outside force act upon the views of the field's
leaders. For example, if a change in laws or coverage from insurance companies occurred, then
the issue might be revisited with increased urgency. Thus, it may behoove those leaders within
the field who themselves do not share consensus about the likely outcomes in this area, to
proactively move towards consensus before they are forced to in an untimely fashion.
The findings in this study should be viewed with caution, as there are several significant
limitations to this study. Primarily, it must be noted that criticisms about the limitations to the
Delphi poll are legitimate, such as the ability to capture a representative sample of experts and
issues within the field, as well as the inherent challenge in offering predictions.
The single greatest challenge to conducting a Delphi poll is identifying and selecting an
appropriate sample of experts from the population. It has been accurately noted that a Delphi poll
is only as good as its panel members (Cicarelli, 1984; Martino, 1972). Given that the current
panel consisted of the recent and current leaders of the professional organizations and
publications within the field of sport psychology, the results of this study may reflect beliefs and
predictions of a particular sub-set of the field (those active involved in professional activities)
while not representing some larger contingent (practitioners not involved in organizations or
publications within sport psychology). It may be interesting in future work to examine, through
Delphi polling, the different predictions about the future of the field by other samples of experts,
such as sport psychology graduate program directors. Also, the items selected for inclusion in the
study were carefully selected based on their relative position within the historical and current
literature, however this may still allow for some error (under-inclusion) in the current sample.
This methodological limitation is noted because it makes salient the fact that it is impossible to
predict what issues might emerge over the next ten years as important, thus fundamentally
limiting the ability of this study to fully capture the future population of issues (Linstone &
Another limitation is the fundamental challenge of offering predictions about the future.
While the Delphi method aims to identify the relative consensus of a number of experts on key
issues, it is subject to sudden and unpredictable paradigm shifts, especially over the course of a
decade. This study does not presume to identify what significant changes will occur in related
fields, sports in general, or other arenas that could have a major impact the future of sport
psychology 5-10 years from now.
Despite these limitations, this study offers important insight into the likely future of the
field of sport psychology, and does so at a crucial time in the field's development. This study not
only captures expected outcomes in a number of key trend areas, but also shows that consensus
exists on a number of these issues something that has not been explored within in the literature
to this point. Additionally, the web-based methodology used to conduct this Delphi poll is new,
as no published studies exist in the field using this approach. While new technologies often
contain new challenges, this approach will likely come to dominate the way in which this type of
research is conducted, and thus this study offers an initial foray into this arena. As always, the
findings here should be replicated and expanded upon in order to further understand the future of
Table 6-1. Mean Ratings for Rounds 1 and 2.
With respect to core identity issues over the next ten (10) years, I expect that the
field of sport psychology will....
1. move towards an interdisciplinary approach.
2. attract and retain primarily sport science-trained professionals.
3. draw on other fields' theories and approaches to inform it's own direction and
growth (e.g., counseling and clinical psychology).
4. continue to grow as a field (i.e., number of new professionals entering graduate
programs and the workforce).
5. increase it's focus on diversity issues.
6. increasingly use research-based interventions.
7. Be reimbursed for sport psychology services through 3rd party payers (i.e.,
8. rely more on a strengths-based approach.
With respect to research issues in ten (10) years, I expect that the field of sport
9. increase it's focus on the social aspects of sport participation.
10. Focus largely on applied research.
11. focus extensively on the development and validation of measures to be used within
12. rely on academic research integrated with field research.
13. Focus on more sophisticated research methodologies.
14. have a significant increase in the number of peer-reviewed journals.
With respect to training issues in ten (10) years, I expect that the field of sport
15. Focus on graduate training that results in a Ph.D.
16. increase it's focus on supervision during graduate training.
17. focus on an inter-disciplinarian approach (e.g., psychology students taking courses
in sport science departments).
18. focus on specialty training within psychology and sport science graduate programs.
19. focus more on graduate training that leads to academic jobs rather than applied
20. increase the number of "hands on" graduate training programs that lead to applied
21. increase training in mental health issues for sport science-trained professionals.
22. offer specialized internships in sport psychology for graduate students.
23. offer more continuing education that promotes cross-training between sport
sciences and clinical/counseling psychology.
With respect to credentialing issues in ten (10) years, I expect that the field of sport
24. rely on a certification administered by a single professional association.
25. have licensure granted to individuals by their respective state.
26. have a number of different certifications offered by various professional groups.
27. have credentialing standards that are accepted between all professional
28. only be reimbursed by insurance companies if the professional has a particular
29. increase graduate training that focuses on meeting the criteria for particular
credentials (i.e., certification, etc)
3.58 0.67 3.33
3.67 0.98 3.89
4.17 0.58 3.22
4.08 0.90 4.11
3.82 0.87 3.44 1.42
3.92 0.90 4.11 0.33
LIST OF INVITED PANELISTS
1. Robert Ecklund, Ph.D. Editor, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology
2. Kerry Courneya, Ph.D. Associate Editor, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology
3. Alan Smith, Ph.D. Associate Editor, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology
4. Vicki Ebbeck, Ph.D. Editor, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
5. Anne Haase, Ph.D. Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
6. Thelma Horn, Ph.D. Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
7. Patsy Tremayne, Ph.D. Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
8. Penny McCullagh, Ph.D. President, Division 47, American Psychological Association
9. Frank Webbe, Ph.D. Past President, Division 47, American Psychological Association
10. Ian Maynard, Ph.D. Editor, The Sport Psychologist
11. Sheldon Hanton, Ph.D. Associate Editor, The Sport Psychologist
12. Barry Schultz, Ph.D. Associate Editor, The Sport Psychologist
13. Craig Wrisberg, Ph.D. President, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
14. Vikki Crane, Ph.D. President-Elect, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
15. Robin Vealey, Ph.D. Past President, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
16. Joan Duda, Ph.D. Past President, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
17. Dave Yukelson, Ph.D. Past Preseident, Association for the Advancement of Applied
Sport Psychology (AAASP)
18. Maureen Weiss, Ph.D. President, North American Society for the Psychology of Sport
and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
19. Charles Shea, Ph.D. Past President, North American Society for the Psychology of Sport
and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
Hello, my name is Jeff Graddy and I am a doctoral student at the University of Florida's
Counseling Psychology program. I write to request a few minutes of your time to fill out a brief
online survey regarding your expert opinions within the field of sport psychology. My
dissertation involves the study of the future of sport psychology as a field and I am conducting a
Delphi poll of a select group of sport psychology experts. You have been identified as one of
small number of recognized experts in the field of sport psychology. Because of the nature of my
study, the relative expertise and experience of the participants are keys to its success and that is
why I am requesting your assistance. I am only surveying those who can claim presidency or
editorship in relation the field's top professional groups and journals, so that the participants
represent acknowledged experts within the field. Consistent with customary Delphi procedures, I
will be including a list of participants in my study and any of its associated publications a way of
recognizing the important contributions they made to the work. Of course, only aggregate data
will be provided and individual responses will not be identified in any way.
Your participation would require approximately five (5) minutes on two separate
occasions. The Delphi procedure asks that you make predictions regarding what directions the
field is likely to take over the next 10 years. This information is collected from all members of
the expert panel, aggregated, and given back to them in the form of group means for their further
consideration in advance of completing the survey again. This iterative process helps to identify
key areas of consensus regarding the future directions that the field will take. In each case all you
would have to do is to click on the survey link to complete it online.
If you are willing to participate, please click on the following link,
http://survey.psych.ufl.edu/graddy or type this link into your internet browser. Once you are at
the website, you will be asked to fill out the short survey, consisting of 29 items. Approximately
one week later, you will receive a second survey which will be the same as the first, except that
you will be able to see the group's mean scores for each item before you complete the survey
again. The goal is to discern area of agreement regarding the anticipated future of the field.
The benefit of your participation will simply be to add to the knowledge of the field's
growth and direction. Your contribution to the study will be acknowledged in any publications of
its data, as well, as a way of expressing appreciation for your participation. Thanks in advance
for your consideration of this request, and you can feel free to contact me or my advisor, Dr.
Greg Neimeyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time regarding this study or your participation in it.
Jeffrey T Graddy
Please direct questions to:
Greg Neimeyer, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Forida
PO Box 117500
Gainesville, FL 32601
THE FUTURE OF SPORT PSYCHOLOGY SURVEY
The Future of Sport Psychology
Please indicate the choice that best fits you:
Other (please identify)
Other (please indicate)
Academic position with a focus on research/teaching
SCollege position with applied focus (i.e., the athletic department or counseling center)
Position with significant focus on both research and applied work
Private practice position with focus in applied work
Other (please indicate)
Years working in the field of sport psychology:
More than 15
Sport science degree
0 Other degree (please specify)
Directions: We are interested in your predictions concerning the future of the field of sport psychology.
Specifically, we would like for you to indicate what you expect the field will look like ten years from now. Your
responses should reflect your predictions, regardless of what your preferences may be. In other words, we are
interested in what you expect will actually occur, regardless of whether you see these changes as being favorable
With respect to core a Ia NTa; I 1 r Q;n Il a+ A,
Ver Some ha Neiher Som ha Vr
identity issues over the Unlikely Unlikely Likely Likely Likely
next ten (10) years, I Nor
expect that the field of Unlikely
sport psychology will....
an E C C C C
interdisciplinary 1 2 3 4 5
00oo attract and
2. sport science- 3 4 5
j1 2 3 4 5
to inform it's r
direction and 1 2 3 4 5
grow as a
etrn1 2 3 4 5
5 focus on C C C C C
diversity 1 2 3 4 5
use research- C C C C C
based 1 2 3 4 5
services C C C C C
through 3rd 1 2 3 4 5
With respect to
research issues in ten
(10) years, I expect
That the field of sport
focus on the
9. social aspects
10. on applied
11 development C C C C C
and validation 1 2 3 4 5
of measures to
be used within
-1 2 3 4 5
00 integrated with
focus on more
13 sophisticated C C C C C
research 1 2 3 4 5
increase in the
With respect to training
oo issues in ten (10) years, I
expect that the field of
sport psychology will....
focus on graduate
15. training that
results in a Ph.D.
increase it's focus
16. on supervision
focus on an inter-
17 psychology C C C C C
students taking 1 2 3 4 5
courses in sport
focus on specialty
18. psychology and C C C C C
00 sport science 1 2 3 4 5
focus more on
19. that leads to C C C C C
academicjobs 1 2 3 4 5
rather than applied
number of "hands
20. on" graduate C C C C C
training programs 21 2 3 4 5
that lead to
in mental health
21. issues for sport
1 2 3 4 5
22. sport psychology 1 2 3 4 5
sport sciences and
With respect to
in ten (10) years, I
expect that the field
of sport psychology
rely on a
by a single
1 -+1 1 2 3 4 5
by their 2 3 4
26. certifications C C C C C
Offered by 1 2 3 4 5
27. are accepted 1 2 3
1 2 3 4 5
professional 1 2 3 4 5
criteria for C C C C C
particular i 2 3 4 5
If you believe there are other important issues related to the future of sport psychology, please enter them below (Optional):
Please list any other sport psychology experts you believe should participate in this study (Optional):
Please list any other sport psychology experts you believe should participate in this study (Optional):
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Jeffrey Tyler Graddy was born on September 23, 1977 in Mason City, Iowa. He grew up
in Ft. Myers, Florida where he attended Bishop Verot High School, graduating in 1995. He
subsequently attended the University of Florida, graduating with a bachelor's degree with
Honors (1999) and a master's degree (2003), both in psychology.
Jeff currently works as a management consultant with Leadership Research Institute,
coaching senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. He is based in the New York City area,
where he lives with his wife, Jenny, and his daughter, Ava.