The Future of Sports Psychology: A Delphi Poll

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Title: The Future of Sports Psychology: A Delphi Poll
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Copyright Date: 2008

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Title: The Future of Sports Psychology: A Delphi Poll
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0018641:00001

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2007 Jeffrey T. Graddy



LIST OF TABLES ............................. 5

ABSTRACT ..............................................................6


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

Participants .............................................................53
Survey ..............................................................55

4 RESULTS .............................................................57

5 DISCUSSION ..........................................................59

Core Identity Issues .................................................59
Research Issues..............................................................62
Training Issues..........................................................64
Credentialing Issues .................................................68

6 CONCLUSIONS ...................................................71

Summary ..............................................................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




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



Jeffrey T. Graddy

May 2007

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,

p. 1).

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

clinical problems.

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

into pathology.

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

the field.

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-

time) consulting.

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,

p. 13).

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

and research.

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

organizational dynamics.

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)

individual counseling.

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

or coaches.

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

sports specificity.

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

(Raglin, 2001).

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

current literature.

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

young field.



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

superfluous content.

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

delineated criteria.

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.

Research Issues

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

predicted trends.

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.

Training Issues

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.

Credentialing Issues

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

this area.

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

occurrence is.

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 &

Turoff, 2002).

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

the field.

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.,
insurance companies).
8. rely more on a strengths-based approach.

With respect to research issues in ten (10) years, I expect that the field of sport
psychology will....
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
the field.
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
psychology will....
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
psychology will....
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)

Round 1

Round 2

0.79 4.11
1.16 2.78

0.58 4.33

1.00 3.78

0.74 4.11
1.15 3.89

1.29 2.33

0.83 3.89

0.83 3.89
1.11 3.89

1.16 3.33

0.90 4.11
0.90 3.67
0.94 2.78

0.97 3.56
0.67 3.89

0.85 4.11

0.67 4.00

1.24 3.33

3.58 0.67 3.33

3.67 0.98 3.89
4.17 0.58 3.22

4.08 0.90 4.11

1.12 2.67
1.17 2.33
1.06 3.44

1.07 3.33

3.82 0.87 3.44 1.42

3.92 0.90 4.11 0.33


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
Psychology (AAASP)

14. Vikki Crane, Ph.D. President-Elect, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
Psychology (AAASP)

15. Robin Vealey, Ph.D. Past President, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
Psychology (AAASP)

16. Joan Duda, Ph.D. Past President, Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
Psychology (AAASP)

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)


Dr. XXX,

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 (neimeyer@ufl.edu) 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

Please indicate the choice that best fits you:

Other (please identify)

2 African-American/Black
Asian/Pacific Islander
Middle Eastern
Multi-racial/Mixed ethnicity
Other (please indicate)

Current employment:
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

Psychology degree
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
or unfavorable.

With respect to core a Ia NTa; I 1 r Q;n Il a+ A,
Ver Some ha Neiher Som ha Vr

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identity issues over the Unlikely Unlikely Likely Likely Likely
next ten (10) years, I Nor
expect that the field of Unlikely
sport psychology will....

move towards
an E C C C C
interdisciplinary 1 2 3 4 5

00oo attract and
retain primarily
2. sport science- 3 4 5
j1 2 3 4 5

draw on
other fields'
theories and
to inform it's r
3. own
direction and 1 2 3 4 5
growth (e.g.,
and clinical


continue to
grow as a
field (i.e.,
number of
new r
4. professionals
etrn1 2 3 4 5
programs and

increase it's
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


for sport
services C C C C C
through 3rd 1 2 3 4 5
payers (i.e.,

rely more
on a
8. strengths-

With respect to
research issues in ten
(10) years, I expect
That the field of sport
Psychology will....

increase it's
focus on the
9. social aspects
of sport

focus largely
10. on applied






extensively on
11 development C C C C C
and validation 1 2 3 4 5
of measures to
be used within
the field.

rely on
12. research
-1 2 3 4 5
00 integrated with
field research.

focus on more
13 sophisticated C C C C C
research 1 2 3 4 5

have a
increase in the
number of

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
during graduate






focus on an inter-
approach (e.g.,
17 psychology C C C C C
students taking 1 2 3 4 5
courses in sport

focus on specialty
training within
18. psychology and C C C C C
00 sport science 1 2 3 4 5

focus more on
graduate training
19. that leads to C C C C C
academicjobs 1 2 3 4 5
rather than applied

increase the
number of "hands

20. on" graduate C C C C C
training programs 21 2 3 4 5
that lead to
applied positions.

increase training
in mental health
21. issues for sport
1 2 3 4 5
00 professionals.

offer specialized
internships in
22. sport psychology 1 2 3 4 5
for graduate

offer more
education that
promotes cross-
training between
sport sciences and

With respect to
credentialing issues
in ten (10) years, I
expect that the field
of sport psychology


rely on a
by a single





granted to
25. individuals
1 -+1 1 2 3 4 5
by their 2 3 4

have a
number of
26. certifications C C C C C
Offered by 1 2 3 4 5

standards that
27. are accepted 1 2 3
1 2 3 4 5
between all

only be
by insurance
companies if
28. the
professional 1 2 3 4 5
has a

training that
focuses on
meeting the
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.