Reflections on a Long-Term Consultancy Relationship: Challenging the Beliefs of an Elite Golfer

in Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence
  • | 2 University of South Wales
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This case study is a reflective account of a consultation with a (then) 37-year-old male professional golfer and former Ryder Cup player who had lost his status on the European golf tour and was working outside of the sport in order to make a living. Needs analysis suggested that the client had poor performances, low self-confidence, and dysfunctional beliefs (e.g., “My swing is not good enough”). An eclectic philosophical approach was adopted to address these issues (e.g., strength-based training, overlearning, hypnosis, promoting an external focus of attention, cognitive restructuring, and a clutch-based visualization). The effectiveness of the interventions was determined by the player’s performance and his underlying emotions and beliefs. The client provided social validation for the consultation approach. The interventions in this case study elevated positive emotions (e.g., confidence and optimism), changed dysfunction beliefs (e.g., “I am always a bridesmaid”), and enhanced performance (winning major championships). The case study illustrates a protracted engagement with a client and the evolution of a professional relationship. The case is discussed in light of a self-fulfilling-prophecy effect and a consultancy that targets the conscious and unconscious mind of an elite golfer. Recommendations are offered for consultants working with elite golfers.

Pates is with the ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar. Kingston is with the University of South Wales, Pontypridd, United Kingdom.

Pates (j.pates@btinternet.com) is corresponding author.
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