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Posted December 16, 2015

Working with sports-science professionals
Randy Goodman

Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 11:11 pm

In a continuation of last week’s column, we look at how parents determine who is the appropriate  person to provide sport science testing or training advice.

Each profession in Canada has certain qualifications or certifications that ensure competency or understanding in the various fields of expertise. I will try to clarify these in each discipline.

Sports Psychology

Psychologists often have a masters or PhD in psychology.

Psychologists or clinical counsellors working in the area of sport are extensively trained in clinical or counselling psychology and have acquired fundamental sport science knowledge through university undergraduate and graduate coursework.

They provide individual or group consultations geared towards improving sport performance and diagnose and treat a range of mental-health issues such as addictions, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. They are licensed by a provincial college and are members of the Canadian Sports Psychology Association (

There is another group involved with performance coaching called mental performance consultants (MPCs). They are extensively trained in the area of sport sciences and have acquired fundamental knowledge in psychology and counselling through university undergraduate and graduate coursework.

MPCs provide individual or group consultations geared towards improving sport performance and well-being related issues. They do not diagnose or treat mental-health issues.

It is important to understand that many people profess to be “mental skills coaches” or “life coaches,” but are not certified, have not done a supervised practicum and are not insured (buyer beware). Practitioners in the associations above have done this, and are covered by liability insurance.

Sports Dieticians

Dieticians are also licensed by a provincial governing body — the College of Dieticians of B.C. Once graduated from a university program, dieticians can pursue further training in sport, including an IOC diploma in sports nutrition (which is an international certification).
Sports Scientists

These are the individuals who perform physical testing on athletes, often at the higher level of sport including exercise physiologists and biomechanists. 
These individuals often have a master’s degree or PhD in their related field, although have no provincial or national licensing requirements. Exercise

physiologists who are voluntary members of the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists are required to prove continuing education and meet certain criteria to maintain their membership, but this is different than a licensing requirement.
Biomechanists have  Canadian professional organization but no current sports designation or licensing.

Strength and Conditioning
This is probably one of the most variable professions with their involvement in sport and qualifications. 
Education can range from a few courses, general examination and certification through the BCRPA,  right through to individuals who have a master’s degree in kinesiology. 

Unfortunately, there is no provincial licensing of strength and conditioning individuals in Canada. The recognized industry standard for sport training is for the individual to have a kinesiology degree, as well as to be a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. It is imperative that you ask any fitness professional about his or her qualifications and experience in a particular sport.

Randy Goodman is a Clinical Specialist in Sports Physiotherapy, having worked with professional athletes in the NHL, NBA, NFL, NCAA and CIS, as well as consulting with many of Canada’s national teams. You can contact him at