North American sport psychology pioneers

Gloria Balague *, Daniel Gould ** and Glyn Roberts ***

(*) Clinical and Sport Psychologist, Clinical Associate Professor Emerita, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA
(**) Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
(***) Norwegian University of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway


Balague, G., Gould, D., Roberts, G. (2020). North American sport psychology pioneers. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(5), 456-470. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.456


The article describes the evolution of Sport Psychology in North America, from the very first pioneers, who planted the seeds but did not have immediate successors, to the boom of the 1980’s and 90’s. The first part of the article is a historical recap, starting in 1895. The fast growth started in the 1980’s follows, emphasizing the impact of the Sport Psychology associations that emerged then, as well as the growth in publications. The section describing the work of the professionals who work as sport psychologists, opening fronts in a variety of performance arenas, both in the US and in Canada follows. Some of the main issues that impact the way sport psychology has evolved in North America are discussed, including the lack of coordination between the professional associations, the absence of a clear educational pathway to become a sport psychologist, and the recent changes to certification credentialing.

Keywords: Sport Psychology