Over the last two decades, there has been an increase in participation in intercollegiate sports with over 380,000 student-athletes participating in nearly 100 athletic conferences at 1,100 NCAA membership schools. Simultaneously, the professional development in the field of sport psychology has paralleled the public draw of competitive sports. This paper explores, from the university athletics departmental perspective, the opportunities as well as the challenges that clinical sport psychologists may encounter within this interesting and stimulating field. The sport psychologist’s training and expertise uniquely prepares him or her to play an important and rewarding role in the lives of coaches, student-athletes and all those who support them.
Eric A. Zillmer and Rebecca Weidensaul Gigli
Raymond P. Harrison and Deborah L. Feltz
Sport psychology by its very title implies that it is a specialty within psychology. However, many sport psychologists have primary allegiance to other fields besides psychology, and many are not licensed or even eligible for licensing to practice psychology. Problems which have occurred for other psychological specialties are reviewed as a means of predicting conflicts which might arise between unlicensed sport psychologists and state psychology licensing boards. Several alternative responses are outlined by which sport psychologists might minimize future legal conflicts. In any event, sport psychologists should begin now to anticipate these difficulties and prepare means for dealing with them.
Burt Giges and Albert Petitpas
The sport psychology literature provides many examples of the use of mental skills training with athletes. Little attention, however, has been given to those brief interventions that occur frequently when working with athletes in the field. Such interventions are time limited, action oriented, and present focused. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of the use of brief contact interventions with athletes in field settings. In particular, we provide a short introduction to such interventions, describe a framework for their use, and present several case examples. We believe that brief contact interventions can be made more effective by following the principles described in this article.
Leonard D. Zaichkowsky and Frank M. Perna
The purpose of this paper is to respond to the arguments against certification in sport psychology presented by Anshel (1992). Anshel’s central arguments were (a) certification will diminish rather than promote the field of sport psychology, (b) Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) certification favors professionals trained in psychology, and (c) AAASP certification is inappropriately reliant on clinical psychology as a model for the practice of sport psychology. These criticisms of certification are rebutted by clearly defining certification and related terms, professing an adequate scientific knowledge base in sport psychology to support practice, identifying fraudulent practice as unrelated to certification, clarifying procedures used in developing AAASP certification criteria, and presenting evidence that sport psychology professionals trained in the sport sciences are not less favored for AAASP certification and that clinical psychology is not used as the model for practice in sport psychology.
Rune Høigaard and Bjørn Tore Johansen
The solution-focused approach is a form of brief therapy that has been successfully adapted to business coaching and school counseling. The purpose of this article is to give an introduction to solution-focused counseling and how to use it in the field of sport psychology. This article highlights key issues in solution-focused counseling. It also describes the relationship between the athlete and the counselor, where it is common practice to distinguish between three types of relationship: the visitor type, the complainer type, and the customer type. In a solution-focused process of counseling, the introductory conversation usually has the following structure: (a) description of the problem, (b) development of well-formulated goals, (c) exploration for expectation, and (d) end-of-session feedback. The solution-focused process and a number of techniques are described, together with a case example from sport.
Kristoffer Henriksen, Carsten Hvid Larsen, Louise Kamuk Storm and Knud Ryom
Young competitive athletes are not miniature elite athletes; they are a distinct client group to whom sport psychology practitioners (SPPs) increasingly deliver services. Interventions with this client group are often undertaken by newly educated SPPs who are in need of good guiding principles. Yet, there is a lack of research informing SPPs’ work with this group. In this current study, semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with four experienced practitioners about their most successful interventions in competitive youth sport. Analysis showed three major themes: (a) young athletes should be equipped with a holistic skills package that enables them to handle a number of existential challenges; (b) young athletes are embedded in an environment (coaches, experts, teammates etc.) that should be involved in the interventions; and (c) interventions with young athletes should maintain a long-term focus. These themes are discussed in the context of current literature on sport psychology service delivery.
Andrew Friesen and Terry Orlick
Incorporating the holistic development of the athlete into an applied sport psychology intervention has been addressed in the literature (e.g., Bond, 2002; Ravizza, 2002). How sport psychology consultants actually practice holistic sport psychology remains unclear. The purpose of this research was to provide a clarification as to what holistic sport psychology is and examine the beliefs, values, theoretical paradigms, and models of practice of holistic sport psychology consultants’ professional philosophies (Poczwardowski, Sherman, & Ravizza, 2004). Qualitative interviews with five purposefully selected holistic sport psychology consultants were conducted. In general, holistic consulting can be interpreted to mean: (a) managing the psychological effects to the athlete’s performance from nonsport domains; (b) developing the core individual beyond their athletic persona; and (c) recognizing the dynamic relationship between an athlete’s thoughts, feelings, physiology, and behavior. The corresponding beliefs, values, theoretical paradigms, and models of practice of holistic consultants were also presented.
Tracey Devonport, Andrew Lane and Christopher L. Fullerton
Evidence from sequential-task studies demonstrate that if the first task requires self-control, then performance on the second task is compromised (Hagger, Wood, Stiff, & Chatzisarantis, 2010). In a novel extension of previous sequential-task research, the first self-control task in the current study was a sport psychology intervention, paradoxically proposed to be associated with improved performance. Eighteen participants (9 males, 9 females; mean age = 21.6 years, SD = 1.6), none of whom had previously performed the experimental task or motor imagery, were randomly assigned to an imagery condition or a control condition. After the collection of pretest data, participants completed the same 5-week physical training program designed to enhance swimming tumble-turn performance. Results indicated that performance improved significantly among participants from both conditions with no significant intervention effect. Hence, in contrast to expected findings from application of the imagery literature, there was no additive effect after an intervention. We suggest practitioners should be cognisant of the potential effects of sequential tasks, and future research is needed to investigate this line of research.
Frank L. Gardner
In his recent article, Silva discussed the development of applied sport psychology as a profession (Silva, 1989). He termed this process “professionalization” and elaborated on issues that were identified as critical for continued growth of the field. The present paper is a reply to several issues raised by Silva. Specifically, in an effort to make a case advocating the need for further professionalization of sport psychology, Silva focused much of his criticism on practitioners trained in clinical psychology as often inappropriately (and unethically) engaging in the practice of sport psychology. In so doing, the interdisciplinary base of sport psychology and the pressing need for mutual respect, understanding, and true collaboration among practitioners of different educational backgrounds were not given adequate attention. The present paper suggests that the literature place greater attention on the issue of who is qualified to provide what service if practitioners of sport psychology are to truly enhance their own professionalism.
To date, there has been limited discussion of sport psychology consultant development, and there is not a comprehensive knowledge base on practitioner maturation. In this article the author argues that counselor-development literature might contribute to sport psychology consultant training and practitioner-maturation research. The author reviews counselor-development theory and highlights similarities with sport psychology literature, such as the documentation of trainees’ anxieties. Implications for practitioner training include matching instructional methods to trainees’ developmental needs, creating strategies for making use of modeling and simulated or real client interactions, and helping trainees deal with anxiety and conflict. Possible research directions include following sport psychology consultants longitudinally and recording experienced practitioners’ life histories. The use of counselor-development literature might assist educators and supervisors in their interactions with trainees, help practitioners reflect on and perhaps improve their service-delivery practices, and stimulate studies that contribute to a broader understanding of sport psychology consultant development.