The Utilization of Sport Psychologists in the NBA and WNBA

Bruce Klonsky, SUNY, College at Fredonia, USA
Alan Kornspan, University of Akron, USA

Theme: Consulting/private practice

Poster Number: 13

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Relatively little is known about how professional sports teams utilize sport psychology services. More specifically, few studies (e.g., Dunlap, 1999) have been conducted to determine the nature and prevalence of sport psychology services in professional sports. Although little formal research has been conducted, anecdotal reports have been provided in the media concerning how sport psychology consultants contributed to the success of teams such as the Lakers and Mavericks. To our knowledge, however, no research has assessed how many of the 30 NBA teams employ such consultants. Based upon the proportion of NCAA Division I programs with sport psychology services for student athletes (Hayden et al., 2012) and the stigma attached to the utilization of sport psychologists at the professional and college level (e.g., Martin et al., 2001), an underreporting and underutilization of such services was predicted. Content analyses (using key words "sport psychologist" and "mental skills consultant") and EXCEL spreadsheets were completed for the media guide listings of team personnel provided in (a) 2012 NBA and WNBA organization websites, and (b) Sporting News Official NBA (1988-2005) and WNBA (2000-2004) Guides. Interjudge agreement between coders was over 93%. Phone and e-mail follow-ups were done when clarification was needed as whether a sport psychologist was on a team's staff. Findings were somewhat consistent with predictions in that while there has been a gradual (but nonsignificant) increase since 1988 in the proportion of NBA teams employing sport psychologists only about one-third of the teams actually use them. The WNBA employs one "roving" sport psychologist for the entire league. A disconcerting finding was that only one of the current NBA consultants was an AASP Certified Consultant. Additional findings (including team-by-team data) and suggestions for dealing with the problem of underutization of sport psychologists will be provided at the conference.

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