Certification Roadmap

American Board of Sport Psychology

BOARD CERTIFICATION in Sport Psychology: Board Certified Sport Psychologist 

             This document provides an overview of the American Board of Sport Psychology certification requirements curriculum and roadmap. All prospective applicants should thoroughly read the following (ALLIED HUMAN SERVICES PRACTITIONERS who are STATE LICENSED or CERTIFIED may also be eligible for Board Certification in Sport Psychology in the context of their OCCUPATIONAL title and SCOPE of PRACTICE STIPULATES; ABSP: Board Certified Consultant).

About the American Board of Sport Psychology and Its Mission

The American Board of Sport Psychology was founded in 2000. Its mission is to advance practice, education and training standards in the field of applied sport psychology and provide licensed psychologists the opportunity to achieve competencies and board certification in sport psychology.

The ABSP certification roadmap is extensive and rigorous and is comparable to graduate level education. Certification cannot merely be attained by a review of credentials, past education, degree or licensure status and previous accomplishments or based on an individual’s background or experience as a sport psychology practitioner or on the basis of one’s stature.

All candidates for board certification must complete the ABSP training roadmap, commencing with topic-specific study, task modules and practitioner’s challenge that lead to an applied practicum and culminating final project that must be of a publishable quality.

Board Certified Sport Psychologist Requirements/Eligibility

Prerequisite: Doctorate in Psychology from a regionally accredited institution/university and license to practice psychology in any state.  

  1. Completion of the ABSP training program (scroll down) including a pre-practicum knowledge test with a score of at least 80% and completion of all Practitioner Challenges based on required ABSP readings
  2. Practicum consisting of prescribed Applied Sport Psychology didactic and applied tasks
  3. Final project with complete assessments, intervention/mental training and outcome analytics
  4. Final project written report and oral discussion session  
  5. Experience requirements: 75 complete or approved partial athlete assessment and intervention case consultations with comprehensive Athlete’s Profile-guided evaluation, intervention efficiency and intervention efficacy testing with pre-intervention and intervention phases using the ABSP-Protocol. Total approximate sport psychology-specific experience hours: 750* hours *Hours include pre-practicum study and research, practicum and final project time during the mandated entry level training as well as other documented experience hours that are approved by the ABSP Board of Directors.


The American Board of Sport Psychology Training and Certification Roadmap

Each Candidate is assigned an ABSP Board Certified Sport Psychologist as a mentor. Candidates are provided a reading list and course textbook. Once all assigned reading is completed work on content modules and practitioner challenges begin. Content modules are completed in an integrative manner and are based on assigned readings. Module completion requires engaging in/completing didactic-based, analytic and applied practitioner challenge (PC) tasks. Completed PC responses and analyses are returned to the candidate’s mentor by email attachment for evaluation and feedback. Once a PC is successfully completed the candidate progresses to the next module and so on until all 21 PCs have been completed. Thereafter, the ABSP Knowledge-Test is taken. If passed (80% or higher) an applied/experiential/practicum commences. The module involves applying the ABSP evidence-based athlete assessment and mental training protocol to athletes. Once the practicum has been successfully completed (as determined by the candidate’s mentor per ABSP criteria-see Practicum elaboration below) the candidate designs a final project that entails carrying out prescribed athlete assessment and mental training/mental training efficiency and efficacy research and data collection under the supervision his or her mentor. The final project is mentored/supervised and designed to expose students to procedures, methodologies and analytics in applied sport psychology. Critical thinking, analytics and evidence-based practice is stressed in the context of a validated athlete assessment and intervention protocol.

Didactic-Knowledge Base-Content-Subject Matter/Integrative Modules

Section I. Conceptual, Methodological and Practice Foundations of Integrative Evidence-Based Athlete Assessment and Intervention

Module 1: Introduction: Perspectives on Evidence Based Practice

Module 2: Construct Validity in Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology: Integrative Mind-Body Bases of Peak Psychological Performance

Module 3.: Toward a Gold Standard System of Accountability: Advanced Methodologies in Athlete Assessment and Intervention Efficacy Testing

Module 4. The Athlete’s Profile Model: Primary Higher Order Psychological Mediators of Peak Performance

Module 5: Psychophysiological Stress Testing: Validating Mind-Body Responses

Module 6: Neurocognitive Testing and Quantitative Electroencephalography: Brain Functioning and Athlete Performance

Module 7: Sport Psychological Performance Statistics and Analysis I: Technical and Focus Threshold Training

Module 8: Sport Psychological Performance Analysis and Statistics II: Criticality Analyses during Training and Competition

Module 9: Heart Rate Variability Monitoring and Assessment During Training and Competition:     A Window into Athlete Mind-Body Responding

SECTION II. Mental Training and Intervention

 Module 10: Critical Issues in Mental Training: Advancing Higher Evidence-Based Interventions

Module 11: Spectrum of Intervention and Mental Training Modalities in Sport Psychology: Perspectives and Practices

Module 12: Heart Rate Deceleration Biofeedback: Direct Pathways to Peak Performance Responses

Module 13: Behavioral-Motor-Technical Based Mental Training

Module 14: Video-Based Mental Programming

Module 15: Multi-Modal Intervention-Mental Training I. and II. (Distance-Based Multi-Modal MT)

Module 16: Hypnosis-Active-Alert Hypnosis: Subliminal Mental Programming

Module 17: Mental Imagery-Visualization Training

Module 18: Brain-Based Manipulation: Neurofeedback

Module 19: Cerebral Laterality Manipulation: Inducing Brain Hemispheric Shifts

Module 20: Integrative Athlete Assessment and Intervention: Team Case Study of Mind-Body Assessment and and Biofeedback During Official Competition

Module 21: The Intake and Initial Evaluation: A Sample Case Study from A to Z

SECTION III. Clinical Sport Psychology

  1. Concussion assessment and rehabilitation
  2. Substance abuse and doping
  3. Exercise based psychotherapy, health, wellness and preventive medicine
  4. Clinical issues and athletes: A survey

Subject Content

Motor-Technically-Based Learning

  1. Applied Motor Learning
  2. Technical Parameters of Popular Sports
  3. Tactile Learning
  4. Assessment of Motor Learning
  5. Working with Coaches to Improve Athlete Technique

Neuropsychology/physiology and Cognitive Sport Psychology

  1. Neuropsychology and Sport: An Overview
  2. Information Processing
  3. Reflex Action and Reactions
  4. States of Consciousness
  5. Cognition
  6. Attention
  7. Neural Learning and Memory
  8. Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological Research in Sport
  9. Subliminal Neurophysiological Markers of Motor Learning
  10. Applied Neuropsychology in Sport

Assessment in Sport Psychology

  1. Assessment Instruments in Sport Psychology: A Critical Overview
  2. Psychometric Issues: Ecological Validity, Criterion Referenced Validation, Predictive Validity
  3. The Athlete’s Profile and Theory of Critical Moments Assessment Models
  4. Psychophysiological Assessment
  5. Neurocognitive and EEG Assessment
  6. Ecological Assessment of Athlete Psychological Performance
  7. Critical Moment Analyses: Quantifying Mental Toughness
  8. Quantifying Zone or Flow States
  9. Systematic Advanced Multi-Modal Assessment
  10. ABSP Experiential Ongoing

Applied Sport Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

  1. An Overview of Sport Biofeedback and Psychophysiology
  2. Psychophysiological and Autonomic Correlates of Imagery, Attention, and Intensity
  3. Heart Activity and Heart Rate Deceleration/Variability Biofeedback
  4. Neurofeedback
  5. Critical Issues in Sport Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
  6. Methodological Issues in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
  7. Critical Thinking in Sport Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
  8. Getting Started: Basic Applications
  9. Professional Issues, Advanced Training Sources, Instrumentation

Interventions in Sport Psychology

  1. Heart Rate Deceleration and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback
  2. Video-Based Intervention Augmentation
  3. Motor and Technical-Based Intervention
  4. Multi-Modal Intervention-Distance-Based Multi-Modal Intervention
  5. Hypnosis-Based Intervention-Active-Alert Hypnosis
  6. Mental Imagery
  7. Brain-Based Manipulation: Neurofeedback-Cerebral Laterality Mental Training
  8. Intervention Amenability and Compliance
  9. Intervention Efficiency and Efficacy Testing

Research Methods in Sport Psychology

  1. Construct Validity, Conceptual Bases and Accountability in Applied Sport Psychology
  2. Research Methods and Applications in Sport Psychology
  3. Micro-operationalizations of Predictor and Criterion Measures
  4. Advanced Single-Case Repeated Measures Design
  5. Advanced Assessment and Intervention Validation and Efficacy Testing Methods
  6. Statistical Analysis
  7. Advanced Databasing
  8. Experiential Task: Design an Assessment Validation or Intervention Efficacy Study

Ethics and Critical Thinking in Sport Psychology

  1. An Overview of Ethical Issues in Sport Psychology
  2. The APA Code of Ethics in the Context of Applied Sport Psychology
  3. Abstract and Overlooked Ethical Issues in Applied Sport Psychology
  4. Vignettes: Ethical Scenarios

Clinical Sport Psychology

  1. Clinical Assessment of Athletes
  2. Psychopathology in Athletes
  3. Promoting General Wellness in Athletes
  4. Exercise Psychology-Exercise Therapy
  5. RSA-Biofeedback to Facilitate Recovery and Sleep
  6. Drug Abuse in Athletes: Doping
  7. Psychotherapeutic Approaches
  8. Clinical Intervention Efficiency and Efficacy Testing

Practicing Applied Sport Psychology

  1. Establishing a Client-Athlete Centered Practice
  2. Ethical Marketing, PR and Media Work
  3. Working with Coaches and Teams
  4. Collaborating with Coaches, Physicians and Other Professionals
  5. The Universal Athlete Database Practitioner-Researcher Project
  6. Competencies, Referrals and Fee Structuring
  7. ABSP-Certification Continuing Education and Credential Upgrade and Renewal
  8. ABSP: Special Ethical and Copyright Stipulates
  9. General Ethics


Overview: Applied Sport Psychology, Assessment and Interventions

Experience is crucial to becoming a Sport Psychology practitioner. The ABSP practicum module emphasizes critical thinking in the context of applied assessment, diagnosis and intervention efficiency and efficacy testing. Mastery of tasks are evaluated on the basis of knowledge of assessment and intervention protocols, their appropriate administration, including psychophysiological monitoring, statistical analyses and structuring and performing efficiency/efficacy studies. An integrative approach that incorporates research on assessment and interventions from other domains of psychology is utilized to broaden a candidates perspectives of applied sport psychology and expose them to advanced methodologies and procedures. Knowledge of statistical and research designs is required and is evaluated in the context of all written assignments relating to a candidate’s final project culminating paper that must be of publishable quality.

Learning Goals

  1. Critically analyze assessment and intervention research in applied sport psychology and apply assigned pre-intervention assessments to a self-acquired athlete population.
  2. Select and apply an assigned individual differences-based intervention approach to arrive at the ideal mental training modality (method that is best suited to a particular client).
  3. Implement intervention efficacy studies to determine intervention efficiency and efficacy.
  4. Document and assess athlete psychophysiological functioning during competition and in relationship to administered interventions.
  5. Evaluate emerging intervention methods in applied sport psychology including heart rate variability analysis and heart rate deceleration biofeedback, neurofeedback and manipulation of cortical states in an attempt to enhance attention (focus) and manipulate affect.
  6. Design a comprehensive assessment and intervention program for athletes, teams and coaches based on the ABSP-CP protocol.
  7. Create and manage individual athlete database of brain-heart-mind-body-motor and outcome responding.
  8. Deliver a culminating report and deliver it to client athletes.
  9. Document the entire process: video-documentation.

Practicum Subject and Content Areas

1.  Assessing Athletes: Comprehensive Evaluation from the Lab to the Playing Field

2.  Assessing athlete-intervention amenability

3.  Video-based programming; motor/technical-based mental training

4.  Multi-modal distance-based training

5.  Biofeedback I: heart rate variability assessment and training

6.  Biofeedback II: heart rate deceleration training; neurofeedback, cerebral laterality manipulation

7. Hypnotic Procedures: Active-alert hypnosis

8. Mental imagery: Evidence-based approaches to mental imagery efficiency and efficacy testing

10. Assessing intervention efficiency and efficacy (strongly HRV-based)

11. Accountability, Psychological Statistics, Database Management, Data Analysis-Reports


Practicum: Administering the ABSP Protocol

Required material, instrumentation, software and hardware and participants:

Practicum DVD; HRV software (provided to candidate on loan for practicum and final project); HRV monitoring sensor; Polar RS800CX system; safety glasses; ABSP-BRC test center (one access code); Line-Bisecting Test (provided); database templates (provided); statistical analysis (ABSP analyzes the data); video recorder (must have access to digital recording device to document practicum and final project process); access to Skype for online training and discussion sessions. Participating athletes must be recruited.

Note: Informed consent must be obtained from each participant or parent of participant if under 18 years of age

 1. Assessment of Primary Higher Order Psychological Factors using the Carlstedt Subliminal Attention, Reactivity, Coping Scale and related tests to measure an athlete’s level of hypnotic susceptibility, neuroticism and repressive coping.
2. Neurocognitive Testing using the Brain Resource Internet-based test battery for assessing subliminal brain    responses (www.americanboardofsportpsychology.org link to Test Center).


Applied Assignment: CONTACT MENTOR. Take the ABSP-BRC internet-based test battery. Locate your CSARCS-A Athlete’s Profile PHO constellation. Analyze it in the context of what your AP predicts about your psychological performance tendencies. Administer the document-based CSARCS-A and clinical analogue tests (TAS, PANAS and MC) to ten athletes. Analyze each athlete’s AP and write a brief-report.


  1. In-the-laboratory psychophysiological stress testing with video stimulus/stress paradigm: checking for stress responding; intervention amenability testing using the ABSP visualization-HRV paradigm (will initially be performed by mentor on candidate via Skype)


Applied Assignment: Obtain an HRV baseline on ten athletes (after CSARCS-A testing) followed by a Serial 7s Stress Test using the provided HRV software and sensor.


Discussion Assignment: Based on each individual athlete’s HRV across conditions how many results could be considered consistent with what would have been expected or predicted on the basis of each athlete’s individual AP constellation of PHO traits and behaviors?


  1. Using the Brain Resource Web Neuro Sport paradigm for assessing subliminal brain responding


  1. On-the-playing field assessment of brain responding using blue-tooth based wireless EEG: measuring actual brain responses come crunch-time OPTIONAL


Applied Assignment: Athlete Database Management, Analysis and Interpretation:

Take and administer the line-bisecting (LB) test to the same 10 athletes being sure to pre-screen athletes for handedness using the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (EHI). Analyze the results in the context of cortical activation/laterality theory. Report your results and analyses.


Applied Assignment: Revisit the ABSP-BRC test results that you took and locate your BRC neurocognitive test scores. Analyze your neurocognitive performance in the context of your LB scores and Athlete’s Profile constellation.


Discussion Assignment: What neurocognitive measure(s) would you expect to reflect, measure or be associated/correlated with your AP PHO (e. g. what/which neurocognitive measure(s) corresponds with hypnotic susceptibility, neuroticism and repressive coping). What measures reflect relative left, right or bilateral brain hemispheric predominance (i.e., in which hemisphere are the obtained neurocognitive measures thought to be located anatomically and functionally). What are their relevance to an athlete’s level of physiological reactivity, attention and style/speed of cognitive processing and vulnerability to intrusive thoughts, to mental toughness and mastery of critical moments?


  1. On-the-playing field assessment of heart rate variability: Time-out paradigm


  1. Wireless monitoring of heart activity and post-competition heart rate deceleration analysis during actual training and official competition CONTACT MENTOR


Applied Assignment: Read Chapter 9 in Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology. Replicate the presented HRV monitoring paradigms in the context of a sport (1 athlete) in which you have advanced knowledge of or expertise or design a replication paradigm with the assistance of a coach using the BioCom and Polar systems. Do an HRD analysis on the Polar data. Enter all data into the appropriate database template. Be sure to video the process. Acquire at least 10 repeated time-out measures (or pre-action HRV using the ABSP-BioCom system). Extract and time-lock the ABSP-Polar system acquired data to sport-specific pre-action, action and other psychologically relevant epochs. Analyze the data and report on the findings.

  1. Critical Moments analysis: an objective method to analyze how an athlete performs during critical moments.


Applied Assignment: Observe five athletes competing (at least three different sports). Score the each athlete’s performance in the context of available sport-specific validated critical moment analysis criteria and/or develop a sport-specific critical moment analysis system (ABSP has validated critical moments analysis criteria and systems for baseball, football, basketball, soccer, ice-hockey, rugby, tennis, cricket and golf). Provide a statistical analysis of critical moment performance in the context of structured experimental paradigms during training being sure to integrate “money balls” and during actual competition. See Chapter 8 for guidance.


  1. In-the-field Technical and Focus Threshold analysis: used to analyze mind-body-motor control and ability to concentrate during practice and competition.


Applied Assignment: Design a technical and focus threshold training system for athletes/sports in which you have advanced knowledge or expertise and carry it out with 5 athletes, report your results. See Chapter 7 for guidance. 10. Mental Training as a function of Athlete’s Profile of Primary Higher Order Factors, including:


  1. Heart Rate Variability/Heart Rate Deceleration Biofeedback


Applied Assignment: Replicate HRV and HRD biofeedback mental training approaches in Chapter 12 or adapt them for a sport of your choice using BioCom and Polar equipment. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor.


  1. Neurofeedback using Carlstedt Frontal Lobe Protocols: a means of directly shaping brain wave activity associated with peak performance components such as attention/focus, motor control and intensity. Used to manipulate key brain responses associated with zone states, responses that are vital to performance


Design Assignment: Using Chapter 18 adapt the Carlstedt Frontal Lobe NF protocols to a sport of your choice being sure to consider the temporal properties of pre-action, action and other important performance epochs (this is a methodological/procedural design task, submit your work via email attachment).


Applied Assignment: If you own or have access to neurofeedback hard and software systems apply a CP-NF frontal lobe protocol to one athlete, preferably one of the 5 previously tested athletes who has the most detrimental AP. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor OPTIONAL


  1. On-the-field Glasses-Laterality manipulation training: teaches an athlete to induce immediate shifts in brain activation that have been found to underlie transition from strategic planning to perceptual pre-action preparation; left to right brain shift facilitation and relative shut-down or idling of the frontal lobes which can interfere with focus; keeping intrusive thoughts at bay.


Applied Assignment: I. Using the obtained safety glasses administer the Schiffer Cerebral Laterality Emotional Valence test paradigm to the 5 previously tested athletes while concurrently monitoring HRV (ABSP-BioCom system) for the purpose of establishing relative predominance of brain hemispheric localization of affect (emotional valence); a precursor to Cerebral Laterality Manipulation. II. Teach 1 athlete to induce a shift in cerebral laterality by manipulating his or visual field of choice to either induce positive affect or to facilitate the left to right hemispheric shift associated with concomitant HRD and subsequent enhanced attention, reaction time, motor control and outcome. See Chapter 19 for guidance. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor.


  1. Active-alert hypnosis: used with athletes who are high in hypnotic susceptibility to intensely focus and prime motor or technical responses while shutting out intrusive thoughts and external distracters.


Applied Assignment: Replicate the hypnotic procedures in Chapter 16. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor.

  1. Mental Imagery-per Carlstedt Protocol: special mental imagery protocols customized to an athlete’s profile and time demands of a sport.


Applied Assignment: Replicate the imagery procedures in Chapter 17. Be sure to carry out mental imagery or visualization intervention efficiency testing on the 5 previously tested athletes. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor.

  1. Tactile Motor and Technical Learning: using motor learning principles to consolidate training and technique into long-term motor memory; used in athlete’s with most negative psychological profile to override mental influences; strength and confidence though dominating physical and technical ability.


Applied Assignment: Design motor/technical learning-based intervention for your sport of choice for one developing and one advanced athlete. See Chapter 13 for guidance.


  1. On-the-field Focus Threshold Training: same as g. to enhance focusing ability.


Applied Assignment: Replicate the procedures and analytic methods in Chapter 7.


  1. Multi-modal intervention; Distance-Based Multi-modal intervention: Replicate methods and procedures in Chapter 15. Regarding Distance-Based Multi-modal intervention video yourself teaching an athlete how to self-administer sport-specific interventions, document the process and transfer the data. Document the athlete process using video as well.


  1. Intervention Efficacy Testing: designed to ascertain to what an extent an intervention impacts performance


Applied Assignment: Select one of the interventions that are covered and design an abbreviated intervention efficacy study. It should have a pre-intervention, intervention training and intervention phase. Phase I and III should have 10 repeated measures. The intervention training phase should be taught and trained for two hours over two days.

Document the process statistically, analyze the data, report the results, discuss with the athlete; video the process. See all Intervention Chapters for guidance. This assignment requires preparatory training via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor. 12. Comprehensive Athlete Database creation and management: documenting assessment and training measures over time; databases are used for comparative purposes, for example, pre-slump versus post slump, could be used to test doper pre-and post doping and effects on numerous performance measures. 13. Psychological performance statistics: statistics on the mental game that can be used to document psychological performance in real-time, game to game, like with regular statistics such as batting average.


  1. Comprehensive Report: the culmination of a complete analysis of a player’s mind-body-motor performance.


Applied Assignment: # 12-14 involve an integrated assignment. Acquired psychological, HRV, neurocognitive and other related predictor and performance outcome measures should be entered and stored in context specific database files and analyzed as follows: 1) validation of assessments 2) intervention efficiency 3) intervention efficacy and 4) general brain-heart-mind-body-motor and performance relationships. Review data and data entry templates across all chapters. Prepare a analysis-specific report on one of your athlete participants.


Additional Pre and Practicum Assignment: Complete all Practitioner Challenges in Evidence-Based Applied Sport Psychology the official certification program textbook.


PRACTICUM FINAL: Skype-based evaluation of practicum performance with mentor.     


FINAL PROJECT: Applied Final Assessment, Intervention and Research Project


  1. Administer the following:


  1. 15 ABSP-BRC CSARCS-A and Web Neuro Sport Tests
  2. 15 Visualization HRV-based efficiency tests
  3. 15 Line-Bisecting tests and Brain Hemispheric Valence Tests (Schiffer Paradigm)
  4. 15 Serial 7s Stress Tests
  5. 15 Sport-Specific Performance Tests


  1. Comprehensive Assessment and Intervention Efficacy Case Study: Discuss with Mentor and submit design


Sample size: 60 repeated measures in the context of assessment and outcome, 60 in a pre-intervention phase, 60 in an intervention training/efficiency testing phase and 60 in a intervention phase. This assignment requires preparatory discussion via Skype. Arrange an appointment with your mentor



NOTE: The Final Project may be modified or amended as a function of participant count, specific sport and/or research/experimental design.