Diffusion of Sport Psychology into Elite U.S. Swimming Programs

in The Sport Psychologist

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Elaine M. BlindeSouthern Illinois University

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James E. Tierney IIINorthwestern University

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This study explored in depth the process by which sport psychology ideas and techniques are diffused into elite-level swimming programs in the United States. Three stages in the diffusion process were examined: initial exposure, degree of receptivity, and rate of implementation. A questionnaire designed to measure this diffusion process was mailed to the 165 Level 5 coaches in the U.S. Sources through which coaches are exposed to sport psychology were identified, as well as factors influencing levels of receptivity and implementation. Intercorrelations among initial exposure, receptivity, and implementation were also examined and factors were identified that may reduce levels of receptivity and implementation. Findings suggest that despite only a moderate degree of exposure, coaches are generally receptive and willing to implement sport psychology into their programs. Major obstacles to both receptivity and implementation were generally related to structural aspects of amateur swimming in the U.S. or the sport psychology community. Identification of such factors can help the sport psychology community improve the process by which its knowledge base is diffused into the sporting community.

Elaine M. Blinde is with the Department of Physical Education at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901. James E. Tierney III is with the Department of Athletics at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.

This research is based on a master’s thesis completed by the second author at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale under the guidance of the first author.

The authors acknowledge the financial support provided for this project by the American Swim Coaches Association.

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