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       American Board of Sport Psychology: Professional Issues in Applied Sport Psychology

          American Board of Sport Psychology


Critical Issues in Applied Sport Psychology


In contrast to the                         physical and technical game about which there is an abundance of scientific information and data along with large volumes of objective performance                             statistics, when it comes to the mental side there is a paucity of valid and                              reliable information about its dynamics. The field of applied sport psychology remains mired in a paradigm that is based in part                                          on weak data, questionable assessment methods and interventions that have not been validated at the intraindividual level.


  1. It continues to overemphasize findings that were derived from group studies as justification for the continued indiscriminant use of many of its procedures and interventions despite the fact that such findings do not necessarily generalize to the individual athlete. This is ironic, especially since the most prominent theory of peak performance (Individual Zone of Optimum Functioning [IZOF]) stresses the need to establish individual profiles of athlete peak performance; Hanin, 2006).
  2. If the field is to make serious and lasting inroads and provide athletes, coaches and organizations with best practices and methods a paradigm shift needs to occur. It must be based on rigorous scientific applications and methods, similar to those seen in certain clinical realms where important advances have been made pertaining to patient diagnosis and treatment.
  3. New approaches to the evaluation of athletes must produce meaningful and useful information regarding an athlete’s psychological performance that has a high degree of ecological validity and reliability. Just as a professional scout or coach knows an athlete’s vertical jumping ability, foot speed, performance averages, technical propensities, body-fat index and oxygen uptake, the time has come to develop individualized normative databases of psychological and neuropsychophysiological functioning in athletes for assessment/diagnostic, comparative and intervention purposes.
  4. Practitioners should know an athlete’s “attention threshold,” “brain processing speed and reaction time,” “frontal-lobe error rate,” “emotional reactivity and valence,” “critical moment psychological proficiency,” heart rate variability and deceleration response parameters,” and “movement related brain-macro potentials” to name a few important psychophysiological performance responses if they are to effectively advise athletes, coaches and teams.

The era of just telling athletes “to relax” or “just imagine” or “shut out negative thoughts” needs to evolve into a new one in which just relax means “generate more high frequency heart rate variability” prior to critical moments, or engage in focus threshold training to improve concentration or manipulate cerebral laterality to suppress intrusive thoughts. The current cliché laden “just do it” approach needs to be replaced with methods that define numerous nebulous constructs that pervade applied sport psychology today (e.g., “zone,” “mental toughness,” “focus”). It is time to delineate the IZOF theory and postulates using instruments and methodologies that allow for the operationalization of states of intensity or physiological reactivity it refers to.


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          ***11th ANNIVERSARY 2006-2016***


Applied Sport Psychology

Evidence-Based Athlete Assessment and Intervention

Residential in New York

  • Tuition-Based Internship-Training-Research Program
  • Tuition-Based Visiting Fellowship Program


Distance-Based Internship/Fellowship Program

  • Distance Learning and Training Program (year around)




Fellows, Interns, Research Assistants, Psychologists, Coaches and Athletes representing the following schools and sport organizations have been trained by Dr. Roland A. Carlstedt in the ABSP Summer program in Applied Sport Psychology: Evidence Based Athlete Assessment and Intervention in New York City


Virginia Tech

Penn State, (Graduate-Fellow)

University of Pennsylvania

University of Southern California (Graduate Fellow)

University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Graduate-Fellow, Athete, All-American Tennis Player)

Butler University

Williams College (Athlete, Soccer Player)

Amherst College (Athlete, Baseball Player)

Wellesley College (Athlete, Soccer Player)

Yeshiva University-Ferkauf School of Psychology 2 (Psychologist, Psychologist)

Dominican University (Graduate-Fellow)

Dickerson College (All American Athlete, LaCrosse Player; Graduate Fellow)

Duke University

Fordham University (Graduate-Fellow)

Temple University,

Queens University (N.C.; Athlete, Soccer Player; Graduate Fellow),

University of Delaware

City University of New York (City College; Athlete, Tennis Player),

State University of New York (New Pflatz),

State University of New York (Stoneybrook)

State University of New York (Binghamton)

Queens College (NY; Athlete, Tennis Player)

Morehead College

Boston College (All American Athlete, Fencer)

Davidson College,

Allegheny College (Athlete, Tennis Player)

Capella University (Graduate Student-Fellow)

Massey University (N.Z.Post-Graduate Fellow)

Karlstad University (SWE Post-Graduate Fellow),

Bournemouth University 2 (U.K., Athlete, Soccer Player; Athlete, Hammer Thrower)

Warsaw Medical University (POL; Psychologist),

Polish Tennis Federation (POL; Psychologist)

Harlequins Professional Rugby Union Team (U.K., Psychologist)

MŠK Žilina Professional Soccer Team (Slovakia, Psychologist)

ITF/ATP Tour Professional (Athlete)



UCLA (Athlete, Volleyball Player)

University of Colorado

University of Dayton/University of the Rockies (Athlete; Graduate Fellow)

Psychologist Private Practice-Spain (Graduate Fellow)

Harvard Medical School: Assistant Professor of Psychiatry/Clinical Researcher (Visiting Fellow)

Eastern Kentucky State University (Athlete, Tennis Player), Australia

PGA Golf Pro (Athlete)

Licensed Psychologist Private Practice-Georgia (Visiting Fellow)

Beacon High School-New York City: Tennis Coach of the Year

University of Phoenix (Visiting Fellow)

Empire State College (Visiting Fellow)



Pennsylvania State University (Student-Athlete Gymnast, Competitive Cheerleader)

New York University CUNY-City College (Student-Athlete-Tennis Player)

Birmingham University, England/Cyprus (Student-Athlete, U.K. Div. 1. Basketball Player/Cyprus Junior National Basketball Champion)

Bellevue College/University of Washington, WA (Student-Athlete, Golfer) North Carolina State University (Student-Athlete, Competitive Weight Lifter)

Washington College, MD (Student-Athlete, Baseball Player)

Morehouse College (Student-Athlete-Tennis Player) Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow; Vice-President

Mental Healthcare Organization; Tournament Bowler) Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow, Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Organization; Ultra-Marathoner-Senior World Ranked Distance-Runner) Licensed

Psychologist (Visiting Fellow, Private Practice) PGA Professional Golfer (Athlete-Client; ABSP Certification Program Student)



Georgetown University (Student-Athlete/Varsity Soccer Player)

Hamline University (Visiting Fellow; Former Varsity Baseball Player)

Technische Universitaet Berlin, Germany (Visiting Fellow; Psychologist/University Instructor)

Licensed Social Worker/Cross-Fit Trainer (private practice)

New York University (ABSP Research Assistant, former summer Intern)

Pennsylvania State University (ABSP Research Assistant, former summer Intern)

University of Washington (ABSP Research Assistant, former summer Intern)

Washington College (ABSP Research Fellow)

Morehouse College (Student-Athlete/Varsity Tennis Player)


2013: Special American Board of Sport Psychology Symposium on Technology and Sport Psychology at the 2013 American Psychological Association Annual Convention in Honolulu (bold above = presenters)



Purdue University (Student-Athlete, Golfer)

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (Harvard Medical School Affiliate: Visiting Fellow; Certified Recreation Therapist)

Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow; ABSP Board Certification Candidate)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Visiting Fellow; ABSP Board Certification Candidate)

Morehouse College (Student-Athlete/Varsity Tennis Player)

Tennis Professional (Germany & USA)


Special 2014 research project: validation of the ABSP “mental toughness” assessment paradigm during official baseball games using

continuous heart rate variability monitoring assessments with HRV-based mental training on-the-bench: Sites: Louisiana, Michigan & New Hampshire: 4 additional summer program analysts who were trained in the NYC summer program prior to the start of this project




Tufts University (Student-Athlete [Equestrian] Internship/Research Assistantship) Licensed Counselor (Visiting Fellow) Licensed Counselor (Visiting Fellow, ABSP Board Certification Candidate) Academic-Research Psychologist (Visiting Fellow, ABSP Board Certification Candidate) Diplom Psychologe-Sportpsychologe (Visiting Fellow, Vienna Austria/Universitaet Wien) Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow, ABSP Board Certified Sport Psychologist Candidate). Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow)

Licensed Psychologist (Visiting Fellow, ABSP Board Certified Sport Psychologist Candidate; Bangalore, India)



SPECIAL 2010-2013 MLB-RESEARCH PROJECT (3 year research project)


Washington and Lee University 10

University of West Florida

University of California-Berkeley

San Jose State University 2

Indiana University

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

State University of New York (Purchase)                       15 additional research analysts





Comments of Participants:


“During my internship, as an integral part of the ABSP research team, I assisted with:-

  • Stress responsivity assessment of the individuals in an elite youth baseball traveling team (14-15 year old) prior to their season.
  • Psychophysiological monitoring of these players during the beginning weeks of the season in the dug-out prior to every at-bat in official league games.
  • Teaching and administering these players a heart-rate variability biofeedback protocol prior to each at-bat or pitching during official mid-season league games whilst continuing psychophysiological monitoring.
  • Collating individual players’ data to enter into a statistical software package.


I also completed post and pre-match psychophysiological monitoring of a tennis player who was participating in an elite youth tournament.


A tennis coaching session was observed for an adult player with the emphasis on improving the number of successes at critical moments. Psychophysiological monitoring also occurred during this session, allowing immediate feedback to the player.


All of the above in-the-field sports psychology activities (both research and applied aspects) allowed me to interact with fellow interns to enable informal learning to occur also.


One-to-one lectures were held on a variety of topics e.g. the transient-hypo frontality hypothesis. Time was also made available to allow for individual questions about my chosen sport, soccer.


To gain an understanding of the measures used by ABSP, I completed the Assessment of Primary Higher Order Psychological Factors using the Carlstedt Subliminal Attention, Reactivity, Coping Scale to measure my levels of hypnotic susceptibility, neuroticism, and repressive coping. I was the subject of neurocognitive testing using the Brain Resource Company Internet-based test battery for assessing subliminal brain responses. I finished with the serial 7s stress test.


As a result of the internship I have made a significant contribution to APA conference and paper submissions by Dr.Carlstedt and I am therefore included as one of the secondary authors. The relevance of this research is very important in order to promote wider application of its findings to real-life sports settings.


The internship with ABSP was first and foremost a practical sport psychology experience for me. It allowed me to understand the relationship between research and applied sports psychology in a very “hands-on” manner. It was work with real people solving real problems in a sporting context. I spent four weeks on the program but would have preferred many more. The timetable was very flexible, but did require the team of sports psychologists to be responsive to the needs of the clients and to be available at the times best suited to the clients. This is not concerned with sitting in an office and expecting hourly appointments! You attend to clients in the field, a much more stimulating environment that requires your adaptability. The internship became my primary focus for that time and thus I gained much from it professionally and personally. The learning I achieved has been readily applied in the contexts I work in presently and many clients have already benefited. Similarly, it has enabled me to contribute much more to the improvement of the soccer players I have coached since returning from New York.” Peter Rodeka, M.Ed., New Zealand-Visiting Fellow; Master’s in Educational Psychology (Massey University, 2006) Paraparaumu, New Zealand


“In the summer of 2006 I worked directly under Dr. Roland Carlstedt in the American Board of Sport Psychology internship program. During this summer I worked first hand about applied evidence-based athlete assessment and interventions. It was an illuminating experience. I had the ability to see and participate in the entire athlete evaluation and mental training process from collecting data to watching how personal athlete’s profiles were established. The most significant aspect of the internship was being trained first-hand by Dr. Carlstedt on how to apply a systematized evidence-based applied sport psychology protocol and why such is critical to the credibility of our field. Watching and experiencing the athletes that we worked with perform to the best of their ability, in part, because of our (my) efforts was extremely gratifying. I had an amazing summer working with Dr. Carlstedt and I recommend the ABSP Intern and Fellowship programs to anyone interested in sport psychology. You will learn more first hand in this program sophisticated and cutting-edge approaches to applied sport psychology that extend well beyond the classroom and the theoretical. The opportunities afforded me as an undergraduate were unprecedented and on top of everything I will receive co-authorships in conference papers and journal articles that are in preparation. The data collection and analysis components provided me with valuable research experience and impressed upon me how important it is to be a practitioner-researcher. The Carlstedt Protocol brings accountability to applied sport psychology. I feel that I have gained an important career advantage and unique insight into high-level methods and practices.” Marc Prine, Internship/Research Assistant, Temple University


“I had always been interested in the field of sport psychology and when I noticed an email detailing a summer internship opportunity with the American Board of Sport Psychology, I was very excited. Although I did not know much about the field, working with Dr. Carlstedt, an experienced and respected sport psychologist, during the summer of 2008 taught me a lot about the area and made me even more excited about the field. Throughout my one month internship, I learned a variety of techniques in evidence-based sport psychology including working with heart rate variability monitoring and EEG equipment and learning how to interpret results. I also learned how to keep psychological statistics including error rates and criticality measures. The internship included lectures on sport psychology principles such as the transient hypofrontality hypothesis and the Primary Higher Order factors of the Carlstedt Protocol which include hypnotic susceptibility, neuroticism, and repressive coping. Although the internship included a variety of lectures, I most enjoyed working in the field with athletes. This afforded us an opportunity that very few undergraduate psychological internships offer. Being able to work side by side with three tennis players and seeing them improve, in part, as a result of interventions we administered illuminated how evidence-based applied sport psychology can make an impact. While working with these athletes, we conducted various experiments including EEG studies and longitudinal heart rate variability studies. We entered this data into statistical programs and became familiar with the research process. I was even able to create templates for data and help a little in the analysis process. The great part about this internship is that Dr. Carlstedt really respects your ideas and input and will allow you to take the reins in his projects. The interns even have an opportunity to be co-authors on papers published in peer-reviewed psychological journals. Overall, I believe that I have learned a great deal in a very short time working with Dr. Carlstedt. I learned a lot about the instrumentation and techniques for carrying out evidence-based analyses while gaining experience in both applied and research areas. Also, very importantly, I felt like I made very good friendships with my fellow interns which made my departure after a month bittersweet. I had a great time working in the American Board of Sport Psychology summer program and I hope to come back one day and become fully certified through the program. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone, especially if they are interested in a career of sport psychology!” KRISTIN SZUHANY, UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA, Psychology Major, former Softball Player


“During my five week internship experience with Dr. Carlstedt and ABSP this summer I received hands on experience in the field of evidence-based sport psychology. We worked within a range of sports, including tennis, baseball, golf, basketball, and soccer. We studied each individual athlete’s profile, took heart rate variability measures, and assessed performance during different levels of criticality during actual match play. These steps were taken to see how an athlete was responding to different levels of stress in relationship to his/her individual profile. In applying the ABSP evidence-based athlete assessment and intervention protocol, we learned that each athlete is unique and should be approached from that perspective. Rather than attempt to give an athlete an instant “cure” as many practitioners claim that they will provide, we taught mental training interventions that were data driven and meticulously controlled for efficacy an approach that is vital to credible practice. Overall, I had a lot of fun working with Dr. Carlstedt and the rest of the interns over my five weeks, and the hands on experience as an undergrad was invaluable.” WILLIAM (Will) LAWTON, AMHERST COLLEGE, Psychology Major and Varsity Baseball Player

“I went into the American Board of Sport Psychology’s program with one view of what sport psychology was about and came out convinced that Dr. Carlstedt’s unique evidence-based approach is the most advanced approach to athlete assessment and intervention. In a field that is still developing and full of practitioners who each have a different ideas and methods I find that ABSP and Dr. Carlstedt’s effort to to create a standardized training program and practice protocol is critical for the advancement of the field. The ABSP protocol brings objectivety and evidence-based methods to the forefront and includes experimentation and data collection, procedures that are contributing to the advancement of sport psychology as a science. During my experience I enjoyed the personal interaction we had with the clients we were working with. Under Dr. Carlstedt’s supervision we engaged in heart rate variability experiments, assessment and mental training with athlete clients and among our intern-fellow group, which was a great way to learn how to use the equipment, methods and procedures. Also, I gained some experience in using SPSS for data analysis, of which I previously had none. I feel like I learned a lot by just doing, which was my objective in participating in this internship. Overall, I had a great experience and definitely got a taste of what to look forward to in the future if I choose to pursue sports psychology as a career.” KATHLEEN KEATING, WELLESLEY COLLEGE, Psychology Major, Varsity Soccer Player

“I participated in the ABSP Summer Programme in July 2008. Prior to the programme, I was tested to establish my Athlete’s Profile, Critical Moment tendencies and performance relevant neurocognitive and psychophysiological responding. This beneficial process introduced me to the ABSP evidence-based approach toward performance enhancement. During the program, I had the opportunity to work with a number of athletes, applying interventions in attempt to optimize performance. This was a rewarding experience, especially when athletes improved as a result of an intervention that I helped administer. We learned to keep psychological performance statistics and do critical moment analyses, a validated system for objectively quantifying the mental game. Learning about data analysis  enabled me to analyze the efficacy of interventions and keep track of an athletes performance and progress longitudinally. This was relevant to my degree that requires the completion of a research project that involves collecting and interpreting data. Working with clients also played a major part in the learning experience. I gained insight into how to approach clients and practice in an ethical and professional manner. The program also enabled me to gain hands on experience working with a licensed clinical psychologist and board certified sport psychologist something that is important to career decisions.” JILL KENNEDY, BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY (U.K.), Sport Psychology Major and Varsity Soccer Player