Close this search box.

Position Statements

The main aim of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) is to promote scientific work in the field of sports psychology. In addition, the Managing Council of FEPSAC, consisting of members from nine different countries, has decided to publish position statements on topical and important questions. The recommendations in the position statements represent the opinion of FEPSAC and are based on scientific knowledge.

The FEPSAC position statements can be copied freely. Please give credit to FEPSAC by citing the correct internet address.

It is the hope of the Managing Council of FEPSAC that the position statements will contribute to highlighting different topics, changing attitudes, increasing knowledge, and helping coaches. The overall aim is to promote a sound and professional performance in sport activities.

Definition of sport psychology

Several studies have revealed the importance and acceptance of sport psychology. However, the crucial question about the real nature of sport psychology is difficult to answer precisely. Although many definitions have been suggested, there is no comprehensive and internationally accepted definition of sport psychology until now. There is, therefore, a need for a clear description and definition for this area of growing importance. 

Children in sport

Organised sport for children has been on the increase in most countries in recent years. Indeed, many children find sport interesting and often this is enhanced by coverage of sport in the media. Sport can sometimes be the most popular of organised leisure-time activities. Moreover, parents are interested in children’s sport as it is often considered to be a positive environment for children’s growth. Also, the development of elite, or top-level, sport has led to the search for talent and this has included recruitment into sport at an early age. 

Sports career transitions

‘Sports career’ (SC) is a term for the multiyear sports activities of the individual aimed at high level sport achievements and self-improvement in sport. The effects of SC can be considered from the two viewpoints: the narrow view considers only sport achievements (records, places in competitions, sport titles etc.), whereas the broad view also considers the athletes’ personal development.

Gender and sports participation 

The last few decades have shown a rise in levels of participation in new and existing areas of sport. Many sports have been, and still are, ‘gender stereotyped’. That is they are commonly held to be more appropriate for one or other gender. One of the consequences of this has been to restrict opportunities for self development for both men and women.

Sports career termination

Sports career termination is a transition that requires former athletes’ adjustment in occupational, financial, psychological and social spheres of life. Typically high-level athletes retire from sports due to factors such as de-selection, new interests, psychological fatigue, difficulties with coaching staff, declining results, injuries/health problems, a sense of accomplishment, new professional priorities, and interrelationships within their family. These varied reasons reflect different types of sport career (SC) termination, such as drop-out (premature SC termination before athletes feel they have reached their full potential), burnout (feelings of emotional exhaustion leading to the inability to continue in sport), or attrition (a slower process of physical and psychological exhaustion).

Sexual exploitation in sport

Exploitation and abuse in sport has been recognised as an issue only within the past two decades. Awareness of both sexual harassment and sexual abuse grew as a consequence of initiatives for gender equity in sport in the 1970s and 1980s; emotional and physical abuses are under-researched but have also been highlighted in studies of the elite level of athlete performance. There is an emerging body of knowledge that now underpins both harassment-free sport and child protection policy initiatives. These initiatives should have practical benefits for all athletes.

Doping and substance abuse in competitive sport

In the 20th century, sport has become increasing important in our society. Professionalisation and a pervasive presence in the media, combined with the involvement of more sponsor money, have led to greater interest in competitive sports. This interest has led to the perception of greater and greater pressure on the part of the athlete to perform to his/her optimum. At the same time, the performance level among top athletes has become very similar in basically all sports, thus creating a pressure to train even harder in order to gain an edge for performance.

Quality of applied sport psychology services 

Top level sport is characterised by a relentless quest for success which includes the investment of time, energy and money of those involved. On average 10 years of intensive training (deliberate practice) are required for an athlete to reach a high level of performance. Numerous support systems have been developed and are offered to support those in the field through their long journey (medical assistance, performance diagnosis, nutritional consulting, and physiotherapy).

Ethical Principles

The term sport psychology refers to psychological aspects of sport, physical recreation, physical education and the European Sport Psychology Federation (FEPSAC) works for the development of the field of sport psychology from the European and global perspectives. Thus, the standpoint of the following text is to provide ethical principles oriented towards the European researcher and practitioner.

Ethical Checklist

The purpose of this document is to accompany FEPSAC Position Statement #9 and is designed to assist practitioners in considering whether or not they engage in ethical practice. The checklist contains a number of questions under the heading of each ethical principle, each of which is followed by supplementary information to aid practitioners in avoiding potential ethical conflicts. This information is not exhaustive, nor intended to provide definitive answers for ethical dilemmas. The document is designed to inform practitioners of points to consider, and as a stimulant for discussion. Where necessary, practitioners should also seek advice from a mentor or professional
body and always refer to their own Association’s ethical codes to inform their ultimate decision making.

Culturally competent practice in sport and exercise psychology

FEPSAC supports the development sport and exercise psychology from a European perspective. Europe embraces different countries and cultures as well as multiculturalism within each country. Sport and exercise psychology practitioners (SEPPs) work in diverse contexts, and this necessitates acknowledgement and respect for cultural differences in applied practice. In the following. guidelines for conducting culturally competent practice in sport and exercise psychology are outlined according to eight principles. These principles ensure SEPPs’ interactions and services will be conducted with dignity and concern for the welfare of all groups, organisations, and individuals involved. The terms “culture”, “multiculturalism”, and “diversity” in this document are used in a broad sense, encompassing aspects of identity related to age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnic heritage, language, disability, socioeconomic status, education, level of achievement, religious/spiritual orientation, and other cultural dimensions.

Mental health disorders in elite athletes and models of service provision

Mental health disorders (MHD) in elite athletes is a topic that has received increased attention in recent years. The overall aim of this position statement is to enhance awareness of this important topic and to critically discuss optimal service provision for athletes who suffer from MHD. In the first part of the paper a short overview of the research on MHD in elite athletes is provided. Elite athletes seem to have comparable prevalence rates for the most common MHD when compared to non-athletic peers, but there are still many disorders that have not been investigated in athletes. Sport specific situations such as injuries, periods of overtraining and career termination may put athletes at an increased risk of developing MHD. In the second part of the paper, models of service provision for elite athletes suffering from MHD from six European countries are presented, focusing on 1) professional service providers, 2) support systems, 3) diagnostic assessment, 4) clinical treatment, 5) performance during treatment, 6) screening, and 7) education systems. It emerges that competencies, certification issues, and professional boundaries of the involved service providers, as well as the structure of the National Health Care systems differ strongly across European countries, which makes defining a golden standard difficult. In the third part of this paper, the authors provide general recommendations for athletes and coaches, clubs, federations, organizations and scholars that hopefully will inspire stakeholders to optimize their support systems.

Joint position stand of the ISSP, FEPSAC, ASPASP, and AASP on professional accreditation


To situate the current status of accreditation in four key international societies, ASPASP, FEPSAC, AASP, and ISSP, in a historical backdrop and then to draw on these approaches to propose future directions and developments relating to practical standards.


A review of the origins and current status of accreditation in four international sport psychology societies is utilized to situate the recent prominence of professional standards and the importance of these in our global professional community. This review is written temporally from past, to present, to future prospects.


A presentation of societal accreditation foci is situated temporally using the following structure: (a) emergence and historical backdrop from each society, (b) emergence and reasoning for accreditation, (c) current societal standards/status of accreditation, (d) future developments in the society’s accreditation system, and (e) reflections and recommendations for global standards, with suggestions of how this might be accomplished.


The presentation of scholarship is intended to serve as a form of advocacy for improved accreditation standards within the global professional community. The societal perspectives call for a balance between localized cultural infusion and proposed global guidelines upon which professionals might meet a converged reasonable practice threshold.


Sport psychology accreditation is increasingly important as the applied realm of this profession spans community physical activity/recreation, and developmental and elite/professional sport. Accredited practices must integrate universal and local approaches.

FEPSAC Position Statement: Athletes’ Dual Careers in the European Context

The aim of this FEPSAC Position Statement is to summarize current knowledge about athletes’ dual careers (DCs) in the European context and propose recommendations for future DC research, practice, and policy. Inspired by the European Union’s Guidelines on Dual Careers of Athletes (European Commission, 2012), researchers, practitioners, and policy makers collaborated over the last decade to create the European DC discourse as a context-informed and negotiated body of DC knowledge. In this paper, we proceed from analyzing this body of knowledge using recent review papers and European DC psychological research projects to formulating seven postulates summarizing DC research findings on factors influencing athletes in their striving for DC excellence. These factors include (1) context, (2) pathways and transitions, (3) challenges, (4) resources and coping, (5) support and empowerment, (6) student–athletes’ mental health, and (7) DC development environments. In the final section, we acknowledge the contributions of European DC discourse in serving athletes in their pursuit of DC excellence and European DC culture. We also provide a critical discussion on DC knowledge gaps and, on behalf of FEPSAC, offer recommendations for DC research, practice, and policy in Europe.