Biofeedback is among the various self-regulation techniques that mental performance consultants can utilize in their practice with athletes. Biofeedback produces psychophysiological assessments in real time to enhance awareness of thoughts and emotions. Quantitatively, research shows that biofeedback can facilitate self-regulation, allowing an athlete to gain control over psychophysiological responses that could be detrimental to performance. With technology becoming a widespread tool in monitoring psychophysiological states, an exploration of consultants’ use of biofeedback, their perceptions of effectiveness, and limitations of their use was warranted to qualitatively evaluate efficiency of the tool. A qualitative descriptive approach was taken through semistructured interviews with 10 mental performance consultants. Inductive reasoning uncovered three themes: positive implications, practical limitations, and equipment options. With biofeedback, athletes have the ability to develop a deeper level of self-awareness and thereby facilitate the use of self-regulation strategies intended for optimal performance states and outcomes.
Kendra Nelson Ferguson and Craig Hall
Mental toughness is a factor related to performance, better coping, and increased confidence. There has been a growing trend toward assessing mental toughness behaviorally. The purpose of this paper was to develop a behavioral assessment of mental toughness in volleyball. Following a five-stage process to develop a systematic observation instrument, the current study identified 10 mental toughness behaviors in volleyball, specifically, six behaviors occurring during a play and four behaviors after a play (i.e., when a point is scored from the opposing team). Furthermore, eight behaviors represent mentally tough actions, while two behaviors represent mentally weak actions. The results indicate that the behavioral checklist is a reliable systematic observation instrument. Coaches and certified mental performance consultants can benefit from using this checklist by discussing mental toughness and behaviors corresponding to mental toughness during game play, and then have a quantifiable way to track behaviors with individuals and volleyball teams.
Rachel A. Van Woezik, Alex J. Benson, and Mark W. Bruner
Injuries are commonplace in high-intensity sport, and research has explored how athletes are psychologically affected by such events. As injuries carry implications for the group environment in sport teams, the authors explored what occurs within a team during a time period of injury from a coach perspective and how high-performance coaches manage a group at this time. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 Canadian university basketball head coaches. Thematic analysis revealed four high-order themes in relation to how coaches managed group dynamics from the moment of the injury event to an athlete’s reintegration into the lineup. Strategies to mitigate the negative effects of injury on the group environment while prioritizing athlete well-being involved remaining stoic at the time of an injury event, maintaining the injured athlete’s sense of connection to the team, and coordinating with support staff throughout the recovery and reintegration process.
Xiaobin Hong, Yingying Liao, Yan Shi, Changzhu Qi, Mengyan Zhao, and Judy L. Van Raalte
According to the sport-specific model of self-talk, self-talk dissonance occurs when a mismatch between gut feelings/impressions and self-talk creates discomfort and disrupts performance. The purpose of this study was to test the sport-specific model of self-talk’s dissonance hypothesis by examining the effects of self-talk on introverts (n = 28), who may be uncomfortable speaking their self-talk aloud, and on extraverts (n = 30). Each participant completed a dart-throwing target task using (a) overt and (b) covert self-talk in a counterbalanced order. Results of analysis of covariance indicated a significant interaction that supported the sport-specific model of self-talk’s dissonance hypothesis. Introverts performed better when using covert (private) self-talk, and extraverts performed better when using overt self-talk. The results of this research show that self-talk dissonance adversely affects performance and suggests that tailoring self-talk interventions by incorporating personal factors into intervention designs could enhance intervention effectiveness and performance outcomes.
Artur Poczwardowski, Mark Aoyagi, Thomas Fritze, and Mark Laird
The science and practice of sport psychology have experienced significant growth and development over the past 30 years. The purposes of this roundtable discussion were to engage sport psychology consultants’ views on gaining entry, especially as it relates to long-term work with athletic clients and to compare these views with Ravizza’s seminal work on gaining entry. Four consultants with extensive experience in sport psychology participated in a two-phase roundtable that was facilitated by a sport psychology professional. Topics explored and conclusions drawn provided further verification of Ravizza’s original insights about gaining entry (e.g., barriers to entry) and added new insights to account for rapid social and generational changes (e.g., role of gender, preferences of modern athletes, importance of interactive observation). The use of technology and adding teleconsulting to service delivery warrant careful approach and future examinations. Lifelong professional development is critical in optimizing gaining entry especially, given the rapid changes in both client demographics and sport and performance psychology knowledge.
Sofie Morbée, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Nathalie Aelterman, and Leen Haerens
In this study, involving 585 youth sport coaches (M age = 35.76), the authors investigated whether coaches who perceive their environment to be highly evaluative would report acting in a more controlling or pressuring way. In a subsample (n = 211, M age = 38.14), they examined the explanatory role of coaches’ experiences of psychological need frustration in this relation. They also considered whether years of coaching experience would serve as a buffer against the adverse effects of an evaluative context. In line with the tenets of self-determination theory, results of structural equation modeling indicated that an evaluative context was related to the use of a more controlling coaching style, with experiences of need frustration accounting for this relation. Coaching experience did not play any moderating role, suggesting that even more experienced coaches are vulnerable to the harmful correlates of an evaluative sport context.
Leslie W. Podlog, John Heil, Ryan D. Burns, Sean Bergeson, Tom Iriye, Brad Fawver, and A. Mark Williams
The authors used a quasi-experimental design to examine the efficacy of a cognitive-behavioral-therapy (CBT) intervention for enhancing psychological well-being (positive and negative affect, vitality, self-esteem), rehabilitation adherence, and clinical rehabilitation outcomes (pain, physical function) in 16 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) Division I athletes experiencing a range of severe injuries. ANCOVAs, with adjusted baseline scores, revealed significant differences between the experimental and control groups for positive affect at rehabilitation midpoint (T2; adjusted mean difference (AMD) = 0.41, p = .04, η2 = .34) and return to play (T3; AMD = 0.67, p < .001, η2 = .70), negative affect at T3 (AMD = −0.81, p = .01, η2 = .47), and vitality at T2 (AMD = 0.99, p = .01, η2 = .48) and T3 (AMD = 1.08, p = .02, η2 = .33). Given decrements in emotional functioning after injury, the data support the use of CBT-based interventions for facilitating the emotional well-being of athletes with severe injuries.
Ingrid Hinojosa-Alcalde, Ana Andrés, Faye F. Didymus, Leanne Norman, and Susanna Soler
The purpose of this study was to assess the psychosocial work environment (PWE) of a sample of coaches in comparison with the reference values of the Spanish general workforce, as well as to explore the relationship between PWE and mental health, behavioral-stress symptoms, and burnout. A representative sample (N = 1,481) of Spanish coaches (18.1% women, mean age = 32.98 years, SD = 11.60) completed a battery of questionnaires. Results showed that, in comparison with the general workforce, coaches showed statistically significant differences in most of the PWE areas assessed. The emotional demands experienced by coaches are a health risk, while trust regarding management and recognition are positive features in their PWE. Coaches’ emotional demands were associated with low mental-health scores and higher levels of behavioral-stress symptoms and burnout, whereas social community at work and role clarity were protective factors for health. Practical implications to provide more favorable work environments for coaches are discussed.