Two women’s soccer student-athletes at Ocean State University have had issues with focusing and concentration the last several months. During the team’s out of season conditioning period, the coaches would like these girls to meet with the institution’s sports psychologist.
Is it permissible for the coaches to require the student-athletes to meet with the psychologist outside the playing season?
Yes with conditions. NCAA Official Interpretation- 2/2/15- Use of Sports Psychologist (I)- states that a sports psychologist may attend practice sessions without being included in the institution’s coaching limitations in a particular sport, provided the individual does not provide any technical or tactical instruction related to the sport or make or assist in making tactical decisions related to the sport during on-court or on-field practice or competition. A sports psychologist may evaluate a student-athlete during a practice session only for the purposes of assisting the student-athlete in off-court or off-field noncoaching activities (e.g., mental imagery) directly related to the sport; however, if a student-athlete is required to meet with the sports psychologist, such a meeting is considered a countable athletically related activity.
Further, an institution may require a student-athlete to meet with a sports psychologist as a permissible out-of-season conditioning activity, provided the time engaged in the sessions are included in the maximum limit of eight hours per week for countable athletically related activities outside the playing season. In bowl subdivision football, the sports psychologist does not have to count as one of the five strength and conditioning coaches permitted to work with the football program in any capacity.
[References: NCAA Bylaws 220.127.116.11 (countable coach); 17.02.1 (countable athletically related activities); 18.104.22.168 (weekly hour limitations — outside the playing season and staff interpretations, 12/12/14, Item b. which has been archived]