Athlete–Coach Conflict and a Sport Psychologist Caught in the Middle: A Case Study of Consultancy During Athlete Preparation and Performance in Olympic Games Athletics

in The Sport Psychologist
View More View Less
  • 1 Mezzana Partners
  • | 2 University of British Columbia
  • | 3 Swansea University
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $70.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $94.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $134.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $178.00

This case study examines the personal experiences of an elite athlete, coach, and sport psychology consultant (SPC) during the athlete’s preparation and performance in a recent Olympic Games. The qualitative research details how the consultancy process was affected by the athlete’s late admission of the deteriorating relationship with his coach. The concepts of closeness, commitment, complementarity, and co-orientation provided a theoretical perspective to the SPC’s interpretation of athlete performance and the interpersonal conflict that developed between athlete and coach. The basic performance demand model provided an applied perspective. The SPC’s commentary adopts a reflexive discursive style that also focuses on the SPC’s role in the consultancy process and the effectiveness of the performance demand model materials. Five important recommendations arise from the case study, and these might inform other SPCs’ future athlete–coach consultancies and interventions.

Males is with Mezzana Partners, London, United Kingdom. Kerr is with the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Hudson is with Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom.

Kerr (johnkerrsportpsych@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
  • Anderson, A.G., Miles, A., Mahoney, C., & Robinson, P. (2002). Evaluating the effectiveness of applied sport psychology practice: Making the case for a case study approach. The Sport Psychologist, 16(4), 432453. doi:10.1123/tsp.16.4.432

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Apter, M.J. (1982). The experience of motivationAcademic Press.

  • Apter, M.J. (2001). Motivational styles in everyday life: A guide to reversal theory. merican Psychological Association.

  • Association of Applied Sport Psychology. (2020). Ethics code: AASP ethical principles and standards (Item 10). Retrieved from https:appliedsportpsych.org

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carver, C.S., & Scheier, M.F. (1988). A control perspective on anxiety. Anxiety Research, 1(1), 1722. doi:10.1080/10615808808248217

  • Clarkson, P. (1992). Gestalt counselling in action. Sage.

  • Connor, M.& Pokora, J. (2010). Coaching and mentoring at work: Developing an effective practice. Open University Press.

  • Conroy, D.E., Elliot, A.J., & Coatsworth, J.D. (2007). Competence motivation in sport and exercise: The hierarchical model of achievement motivation and self-determination theory. In M.S. Hagger& N.L.D. Chatzisarantis (Eds.), Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in exercise and sport (pp. 181192). Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cropley, B., & Hanton, S. (2012). Reflective practice: Key issues for applied sport psychologists. In S. Hanton& S.D. Mellalieu (Eds.), Professional practice in sport psychology research (pp. 307335). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The “What” and “Why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227268. doi:10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gardner, F., & Moore, Z. (2006). Clinical sport psychology. Human Kinetics.

  • Greenleaf, C., Gould, D., & Dieffenbach, K. (2001). Factors influencing Olympic performance: Interviews with Atlanta and Nagano U.S. Olympians. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13(2), 154184. doi:10.1080/104132001753149874

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodge, K., & Sharp, L. (2016). Case studies. In B. Smith& A.C. Sparkes (Eds.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp. 6274). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hudson, J., Males, J.R., & Kerr, J.H. (2019). Introducing a basic Psychological Performance Demand Model for sport and organisations. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice. 12, 147161. doi:10.1080/17521882.2019.1574848

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones, L., Evans, L., & Mullen, R. (2007). Multiple roles in an applied setting: Trainee sport psychologist, coach and researcher. The Sport Psychologist, 21(2), 210226. doi:10.1123/tsp.21.2.210

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jowett, S. (2003). When the honeymoon is over: A case study of a coach-athlete dyad in crisis. The Sport Psychologist, 17(4), 444460. doi:10.1123/tsp.17.4.444

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jowett, S. (2007). Interdependence analysis and the 3 + 1 Cs in the coach athlete relationship. In S. Jowett & D. Lavallee (Eds.), Social psychology of sport (pp. 2940). Human Kinetics.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jowett, S., & Cockerill, I.M. (2002). Incompatibility in the coach-athlete relationship. In I.M. Cockerill (Ed.), Solutions in sport psychology (pp. 1631). Thomson Learning.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kerr, J.H. (1997). Motivation and emotion in sport: Reversal theory. Psychology Press.

  • LaVoi, N.M. (2007). Interpersonal communication and conflict in the coach-athlete relationship. In S. Jowett& D. Lavallee (Eds.), Social psychology of sport (pp. 2940). Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levitt, H.M., Cresswell, J.W., Josselson, R., Bamberg, M., Frost, D.W., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article writing reporting standards for qualitative primary, qualitative meta-analytic, and mixed methods research in psychology: The APA publications and Communications Board Task Force Report. American Psychologist, 73(1), 2646. PubMed ID: 29345485 doi:10.1037/amp0000151

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Males, J.R. (2013). A reversal theory model of sport performance. [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Aberystwyth.

  • Males, J.R., Hudson, J., & Kerr, J.H. (2018). Application of an innovative performance demand model with canoe slalom athletes and their coach, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 9,(1) 6371. doi:10.1080/21520704.2017.1326429

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Males, J.R., Hudson, J., & Kerr, J.H. (2020). Coaches’ evaluations of the utility of the basic performance demand model for sport. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 11(1), 2033. doi:10.1080/21520704.2019.1656315

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McClelland, D.C. (1987). Human motivation. Cambridge University Press.

  • Meara, N.M., & Schmidt, L.D. (1991). The ethics of researching counseling/therapy processes. In C.E. Watkins, Jr.& L.J. Schneider (Eds.), Research in counseling (pp. 237259). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nembhard, I.M., & Edmunson, A.C. (2011). Psychological safety: A foundation for speaking up, collaboration, and experimentation in organizations. In G.M. Spreitzer& K.S. Cameron (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of positive organizational scholarship (pp. 490506). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199734610.013.0037

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Poczwardowski, A., Henschen, K.P., & Barott, J.E. (2002). The athlete and coach: Their relationship and its meaning. Results of an interpretive study. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 33, 116140.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, B., & McGannon, K.R. (2018). Developing rigor in qualitative research: Problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 11, 101121. doi:10.1080/1750984X.2017.13173

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tod, D., & Andersen, M.B. (2012). Practitioner-client relationships in applied sport psychology practice. In S. Hanton& S. D. Mellalieu (Eds.), Professional practice in sport psychology research (pp. 274306). Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tracy, S.J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 837851. doi:10.1177/1077800410383121

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C.G. (2017). Conflict among athletes and their coaches: What is the theory and research so far? International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10(1), 84107. doi:10.1080/1750984X.2016.1184698

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C.G. (2018). On understanding the nature of interpersonal conflict between coaches and athletes. Journal of Sports Science, 36,(17) 19551962. doi:10.1080/02640414.2018.1428882

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C.G. (2020). Third party interventions in coach-athlete conflict: Can sport psychology practitioners offer the necessary support? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/10413200.2020.1723737

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Watkins, E.R. (2009). Depressive rumination: Investigating mechanisms to improve cognitive behavioural treatments. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 38(Suppl. 1):814. doi:10.1080/16506070902980695

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yin, R.K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods. Sage.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 931 931 77
Full Text Views 269 269 17
PDF Downloads 208 208 26