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

John Pates and Kieran Kingston

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.

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Training the Mind for Now and the Future: A Case Study of a Young Swimmer

Jolly Roy

This case study describes how psychological intervention was associated with improved performance. Adopting a cognitive approach, this case highlights a psychological intervention provided to a young swimmer who wished to improve her performance in a butterfly event and qualify for the national competition in her age group. The intervention focused on developing mental toughness, managing competitive anxiety, and maintaining self-confidence before competition. The results indicated improvement in mental toughness, ability to manage competitive anxiety, and being in the right mood before competition. Reflective practice provides a tentative suggestion for sport psychology practitioners who wish to engage in consultancy services.

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The Transition From Sport Psychology to Psychotherapy: The Journey of a Young Athlete Fighting Cancer

Sara Biondi, Cristiana Conti, Emmanouil Georgiadis, and Maurizio Bertollo

The current case study reports an intervention with a young volleyball athlete who was diagnosed with cancer during his early sporting career. The athlete requested both performance-enhancement support and psychotherapeutic intervention (the latter during his illness) from his sport psychologist. The article explores the transition from sport psychology intervention, which started before the appearance of the disease, to psychotherapy and the reflections concerning this unique situation. The fluctuation of the athlete alongside the mental health continuum ranging from a normal (illness-free) state to a mental-illness state was taken into consideration. The theoretical framework adopted by the sport psychologist/psychotherapist consisted of the integration of different approaches: the psychobiosocial model of Individual Zone for Optimal Functioning and relational psychoanalysis, both oriented around the existentialism counseling approach. Reflections on the case include the changes of setting and the development of the relationship between the psychologist/psychotherapist and the athlete during the two intervention phases.

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Butterflies, Magic Carpets, and Scary Wild Animals: An Intervention With a Young Gymnast

Karen Howells

This article presents a reflective case example of a sport psychology consultation carried out with a 9-year-old gymnast during the final year of the consultant’s training to become a British Psychological Society–chartered sport psychologist. During this period of time, the author was under the supervision of an experienced applied sport psychologist. The article draws on the published research in applied sport psychology and the wider child development literature to inform and negotiate the challenges of a neophyte practitioner working in a relatively unfamiliar sport with a very young gymnast. The intervention, which took place over 6 months, involved a focus on psychological skills training. This article reflects on the intervention experience and makes observations that may be of benefit to both neophyte and practiced consultants working with very young children. Although the consultancy involved goal setting, relaxation, and commitment, the focus of this article is on those activities and skills that are specific to such a young athlete and that may be of interest to other practitioners in similar scenarios.

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Volume 1 (2017): Issue 1 (Jan 2017)

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Case Study of a Female Competitive Mountain Bike Racer With Multiple Sclerosis

Kimberly Fasczewski and Diane Gill

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects 2.1 million people world-wide. There is no cure but an expanding body of research suggests that physical activity can have a positive impact on the symptoms of MS. This case study was designed as a view into the life experiences of one woman’s journey with MS as a competitive athlete, focusing on how psychological skills aid her in conquering her challenges. The participant was a 51-year old competitive mountain bike racer who was diagnosed with MS as a teenager. A postpositivist approach using a series of in-depth, conversational interviews explored the role athletics has played in her life and specifically in helping her live with MS. The interviews focused on the psychological skills the participant used to deal with her sport and MS. Results suggest that resilience, resulting from self-efficacy, goal setting, and a positive outlook, is the key to her success, and that her participation in athletics strengthens those positive characteristics. Findings may be helpful to both sport psychology and medical professionals who work with individuals with MS.

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Conducting and Publishing Case Study Research in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Stewart T. Cotterill and Robert J. Schinke

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Conflict Management and Cultural Reparation: Consulting “Below Zero” With a College Basketball Team

Robin S. Vealey

Although sport psychology consultants typically engage in conflict resolution as part of team interventions, cases of extreme relationship conflict in teams resulting in distrust, tension, and hostility require special consideration for the consultant who is starting “below zero” when beginning a consultant relationship with a program. Such a case warrants not just culture building, but cultural reparation and the development of resolution efficacy among team members. The purpose of this case study is to describe an intervention program with a college basketball team that was experiencing multiple relationships conflicts and an extremely dysfunctional team culture. The intervention focused on (a) enabling players to take ownership of and be accountable for a “smart system” team culture, (b) initiating a process to build resolution efficacy that focused on accepting and managing task conflict (while reducing relationship conflict) and emphasized interpersonal risk-taking and vulnerability to build trust, and (c) enhancing coach-athlete relationships. Reflections on the case include the importance of vigilance about ethical boundary and confidentiality issues in “below zero” situations and the role of coaches who prefer transactional leadership styles in building team culture and resolution efficacy for conflict.

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Developing Leadership Skills in Sport: A Case Study of Elite Cricketers

Stewart Cotterill

Effective leadership in sport at the elite level can make the difference between success and failure. However, although the importance of leadership is acknowledged there is little published evidence regarding how the required skills could or should be developed. The current case study reports the implementation of a leadership development program with elite professional cricketers. The intervention itself was focused at three levels: (a) captaincy development, (b) leadership skill development, and (c) personal growth and leadership development. Program effectiveness was determined through the feedback provided by the individual players on the program, the reflections of the sport psychology consultant, and feedback from the professional staff. Evaluation and reflection of the program suggest that a formal development program can be both beneficial and impactful in enhancing the leadership capabilities of elite players.

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Editorial: Beyond the ABC of Consulting: Understanding the Impact of Nutrition, Sleep, and Recovery on Performance

Stewart T. Cotterill