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Athlete Burnout Symptoms Are Increasing: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of Average Levels From 1997 to 2019

Daniel J. Madigan, Luke F. Olsson, Andrew P. Hill, and Thomas Curran

With the increasing prevalence of mental health difficulties in sport, athletes may be at greater risk of burnout than ever before. In the present study, we tested this possibility by examining whether average athlete burnout levels have changed over the past 2 decades, from 1997 to 2019. A literature search returned 91 studies (N = 21,012) and 396 effect sizes. Findings from cross-temporal meta-analysis suggested that burnout symptoms have increased over the past 2 decades. Specifically, we found that athletes’ mean levels of reduced sense of athletic accomplishment and sport devaluation have increased. As burnout symptoms are now typically higher among athletes than in the past, we can expect more athletes to be prone to the negative effects of burnout. Sport is therefore in urgent need of prevention and intervention strategies to stop and reverse this trend.

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Transition-Related Psychosocial Factors and Mental Health Outcomes in Former National Football League Players: An NFL-LONG Study

J.D. DeFreese, Samuel R. Walton, Zachary Yukio Kerr, Benjamin L. Brett, Avinash Chandran, Rebekah Mannix, Hope Campbell, Ruben J. Echemendia, Michael A. McCrea, William P. Meehan III, and Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Transition from professional sport to nonsport endeavors has implications for postcareer health and well-being of athletes. The purpose of the current study was to examine associations among transition-related psychosocial factors and current mental health outcomes in former National Football League (NFL) players. Participants were former NFL players (n = 1,784; mean age = 52.3 ± 16.3 years) who responded to a questionnaire assessing the nature of their discontinuation from professional football (i.e., any degree of voluntary choice vs. forced discontinuation), prediscontinuation transition planning (yes vs. no), and current symptoms of depression and anxiety. After adjusting for relevant covariates, having an involuntary discontinuation and no transition plan prior to discontinuation were associated with greater depressive and anxiety symptom severity. Autonomy in discontinuation and pretransition planning are important to former NFL football players’ mental health. Increasing autonomy in the discontinuation decision and pretransition planning represent psychoeducational intervention targets for this population.

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“I Do What I Like”: 8- to 10-Year-Old Children’s Physical Activity Behavior Is Already Interrelated With Their Automatic Affective Processes

Julia Limmeroth and Michaela Raboldt

The majority of middle-age children do not meet current physical activity guidelines. There is growing evidence that adults’ physical activity is partially influenced by automatic affective processes, which are derived from affective experiences with physical activity. However, little is known about whether these processes are interrelated with children’s physical activity level. A prospective design was used to examine whether automatic affective processes assessed by an evaluative priming procedure predict physical activity of children. Physical activity of 48 children (8.71 ± 0.71 years; 65% girls) was measured for 1 week with activity trackers. In a linear regression model, automatic affective processes (β = 0.36) significantly predicted physical activity, accounting for 11.02% of variance. These results indicate that physical-activity-related automatic affective processes are associated with children’s physical activity, as has previously been found in adults. This study emphasizes the importance of fostering positive affective experiences associated with physical activity during childhood.

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The Defender’s Vision—Gaze Behavior of One-on-One Defenders in Basketball

Johannes Meyer, Frowin Fasold, Karsten Schul, Matthias Sonnenschein, and Stefanie Klatt

In fast-paced team sports, anticipation is one important element in defense strategies. The primary objective of this study was to examine the recommendation for action and use of defensive gaze strategies by defensive players in basketball. Four national-level expert-basketball coaches were interviewed and a field study with mobile eye-tracking devices was conducted on 16 expert and 16 novice players defending in a one-on-one situation. Differences in relative fixation times between experts and novices were elaborated for the predetermined gaze zones—head, ball, torso, and feet—as given by the expert coaches. This was done for three phases of the movement sequence: receiving, dribbling, and shooting. The results of the interviews with expert coaches indicated that the existing coaching doctrine instructs players to look at the torso of an opponent to avoid being vulnerable to fakes. Surprisingly, our findings with the players showed a discrepancy in the evaluated gaze behavior of the experts and novices. For the receiving and dribbling phase, experts mainly fixated their gaze on the head while novices focused on the ball. For the final shooting phase, both the groups mainly fixated their gaze on the ball. Fixating the gaze on the ball or head makes the player potentially vulnerable to deceptive movements, as video-based research has shown. Expert coaches also indicated that peripheral vision is of importance to defenders, contradicting the existing assumption in the literature that focusing on the task-relevant areas is key for anticipation performance.

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Kim Gammage, Jeff Caron, Alyson Crozier, Alison Ede, Matt Hoffman, Christopher Hill, Sean Locke, Desi McEwan, Kathleen Mellano, Eva Pila, Matthew Stork, and Svenja Wolf

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Erratum: Wierts et al. (2021)

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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Related Self-Reported Symptoms Are Associated With Elevated Concussion Symptomatology

Lauren E. Bullard, Colt A. Coffman, Jacob J.M. Kay, Jeffrey P. Holloway, Robert D. Moore, and Matthew B. Pontifex

The aim of the present investigation was to provide insight into how postconcussion symptomatology may be altered in individuals exhibiting attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)–related behaviors and examine factors that may be responsible for driving such relationships. A total of 99 individuals were assessed during the subacute phase of concussion recovery. Inattentive symptomatology, but not diagnosis of ADHD, was related to greater concussion-symptom severity and overall symptoms endorsed. Cluster and factor analyses highlighted that the relationship between ADHD symptomatology and concussion symptomatology was not a function of overlapping constructs being assessed (i.e., concussion-related symptomatology was not a proxy of ADHD-related symptomatology). These relationships were not mediated by parental observations of impairments in behaviors associated with executive functioning (i.e., executive dysfunction was not driving the greater concussion-related symptomatology associated with ADHD-related symptomatology). These findings highlight the importance of moving beyond categorical frameworks of ADHD to, instead, consider the continuum of underlying behaviors.

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Effectiveness of Individual Exercise and Sport Counseling Based on Motives and Goals: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Nina Schorno, Vanessa Gut, Achim Conzelmann, and Julia Schmid

This study tested the effectiveness of individual exercise and sport counseling in a nonclinical setting. The COunseling based on Motives and goals in Exercise and sporT (COMET) approach focuses on individual motives and goals and aims to identify suitable activities. Participants experience different exercise and sport activities and reflect on them with a counselor, who applies motivational interviewing. A stratified randomized controlled design with 129 people was used. The intervention group took part in a counseling event, which included feedback on motives and goals, trial exercise and sport sessions, and structured reflection. Four weeks later, members of the group got a telephone booster. The control group received minimal intervention as written information. Results show that the counseling promoted motivational competence (η2 = .16), physical activity–specific self-control (η2 = .08), and the weekly volume of exercise and sport (η2 = .15), whereas it did not influence self-concordance. Further studies can investigate whether the COMET approach is also effective in other settings.

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Volume 44 (2022): Issue 1 (Feb 2022)

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Effects of Cooperation and Competition on Performance, Emotion, and Effort: Goal and Means Interdependence

Christopher Ring, Maria Kavussanu, and Andrew Cooke

Social interdependence theory proposes that task structure influences performance via social interaction. Using this framework, we examined sport performance. Fifty-six males performed a basketball task under four conditions: as an individual (individual, perform your best) and as a member of a team of two (cooperation, where teammates sought to better their individual performance; means independent competition, where two teams competed sequentially to outperform the other team; means interdependent competition, where two teams competed simultaneously to outperform the other team). Task performance (points) was better during means independent competition than other conditions. Anxiety and effort peaked during the competitions and enjoyment was greater during competition and cooperation than during the individual condition. Emotions, effort, and actions are discussed as explanations for the performance effects. Social interdependence theory provides a valuable framework to understand emotion, motivation, and performance. Team competition can be used to promote effort and enhance performance in sport.