The number of studies examining eating disorders and body image in sport has increased, although several major challenges associated with conducting this research must be addressed to continue growth. In this paper, we describe these challenges based on our professional experiences and the academic literature. Mistrust of researchers and the area of study, communication gaps, and factors that affect data quality are among the strong barriers discussed. However, we suggest that these challenges may be addressed by building stronger partnerships between researchers and practitioners and offer critical steps for developing meaningful professional relationships that will help move the field forward.
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
Laura K. Fewell, Riley Nickols, Amanda Schlitzer Tierney, and Cheri A. Levinson
Understanding the unique needs of athletes who undergo eating disorder (ED) treatment is sorely needed. This study explores changes of strength and power in athlete (n = 21) and non-athlete (n = 36) patients from intake to discharge. Maximal oxygen consumption, vertical jump, push-ups, hand grip strength, and body mass index (in anorexia nervosa; AN) were measured among treatment center patients. The number of push-ups and hand grip strength were significantly improved upon discharge in the full sample (ps < .005) and in AN only (ps < .001). Body mass index was also significantly higher in AN (p < .001). Maximal oxygen consumption and vertical jump did not significantly improve between admission and discharge in either group (ps > .40). This study is the first to investigate measures of strength in athletes engaged in intensive eating disorder treatment and indicates the need to address the psychological mindset around physical activity using exercise education as part of a comprehensive program. Recommendations for incorporating exercise into an intensive ED treatment center are also provided.
Renee Engeln, Margaret Shavlik, and Colleen Daly
Two-hundred and three college women participated in a 16-minute strength and conditioning group fitness class. Participants were randomly assigned to a class that featured either appearance-focused motivational comments by the instructor (e.g., “Blast that cellulite!”) or function-focused comments (e.g., “Think of how strong you are getting!”). Body satisfaction from pre-test to post-test increased overall, but those in the function-focused (as opposed to appearance-focused) condition experienced a significantly greater increase in body satisfaction. A similar pattern was observed for positive affect. Additionally, those in the function-focused condition described the class in more positive terms and reported experiencing less body surveillance during the class. These findings are consistent with research suggesting that exercise can improve mood and body satisfaction, but also suggest that a more function-focused class can lead to even greater improvements. The motivational comments fitness instructors use may have a notable impact on women’s mood, body satisfaction, and body surveillance.
Jessyca N. Arthur-Cameselle and Molly Curcio
The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify turning points in eating disorder recovery in collegiate female athletes compared to non-athletes. The sample included 12 varsity athletes and 17 non-athlete college students who previously met criteria for Anorexia Nervosa (AN; n = 17); Bulimia Nervosa (BN; n = 3); Binge Eating Disorder (n = 1); or both AN and BN (n = 8). Participants completed individual interviews and responses were analyzed inductively. There was some commonality in the athletes’ and non-athletes’ experiences. For example, the most frequent turning point for both groups was Insight/Self Realization. Regarding the next three most frequent turning points, athletes reported Sport Performance, Confrontation, and Support/Concern from Others, whereas non-athletes reported Professional Treatment, Hitting a Low, and Support/Concern from Others. This study contributes to the sparse literature on competitive athletes’ recovery. Results indicated that athletes’ turning points differed from non-athletes; therefore, findings are discussed concerning athlete-specific treatment recommendations and suggestions for coaches.
Alexander T. Latinjak
This two-study project provided a brief description of athletes’ experiences with mind wandering. Study 1 aimed to quantitatively examine mind wandering in sports, in terms of frequency, effects and perceived control. Therefore, 94 athletes (M age = 19.51, SD = 1.65) answered a specifically designed 19-item questionnaire. The results suggested that mind wandering is a common phenomenon in sports, with both beneficial and adverse effects on performance. Study 2 aimed to qualitatively explore when athletes use mind wandering. Accordingly, 115 athletes (M age = 22.82, SD = 3.61) described one recent mind wandering situation while practicing sport. A hierarchical content analysis was performed by the first author and confirmed by an external expert. The results indicated that mind wandering occurred in a wide range of situations in sport and physical activity. Nonetheless, it was also argued that future studies should more carefully define mind wandering to avoid confusion with related terms.
Rosanna Gilderthorp, Jan Burns, and Fergal Jones
It has been shown that having intellectual disabilities impacts to reduce performance compared to athletes without this impairment. However, it has also been demonstrated that there is a not a direct link between intelligence and athletic performance. To advance elite ID sport more needs to be understood about the relationship between this impairment and sporting performance. This is vital if competition classification systems are to be based on theory and evidence. This study used the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as an approach to classification and examined the impact of multiple health problems on athletic performance. A health survey was administered to two groups of athletes with ID: elite and regional level athletes. Athletes with Down Syndrome were also identified. Overall disability scores predicted sporting performance, but not IQ or Down Syndrome. The implications of these findings are discussed with reference to the ICF framework and classification.
Carrie B. Scherzer and Justine J. Reel
In this commentary, we try to present a balanced look at the issues surrounding the implementation of the certification exam for recertification purposes. We recognize that the changes to certification are complex and varied, as were reactions by the membership of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). As long-standing AASP members who are also certified consultants, we look at the costs, benefits, and ultimately the reality of the CMPC exam for recertification.
Fleur E.C.A. van Rens, Erika Borkoles, Damian Farrow, and Remco C.J. Polman
Using a holistic perspective on athlete talent development, this study examines the impact of role strain on the life satisfaction in various life domains of junior elite Australian Rules Football players. One hundred and twelve talent-identified male Australian Rules Football players (Mage = 16.8; SD = .71) completed measures of role strain and multidimensional life satisfaction. The results indicated that role strain explained twelve to twenty-four percent of the variance in life satisfaction in the players’ life domains. Experiences of role strain related to the players’ dual careers were associated with decreased life satisfaction in sport, friendships, family, yourself, and global life satisfaction domains. Situations in which the players perceived that their abilities were underutilized were also negatively associated with life satisfaction across various life domains. This study thus evidences the importance of a domain specific, holistic approach to investigate the life satisfaction in junior athletes’ dual careers.
Ralph Appleby, Paul Davis, Louise Davis, and Henrik Gustafsson
Perceptions of teammates and training load have been shown to influence athletes’ physical and psychological health; however, limited research has investigated these factors in relation to burnout. Athletes (N = 140) from a variety of competitive team sports, ranging in level from regional to professional, completed questionnaires measuring individual burnout, perceptions of teammates’ burnout, and training hours per week on two occasions separated by three months. After controlling for burnout at time one, training hours were associated with athletes’ burnout and perceptions of teammates’ burnout at time two. Multilevel modeling indicated actual team burnout (i.e., the average burnout score of the individual athletes in a team) and perceived team burnout were associated with individual’s own burnout. The findings highlight that burnout is dynamic and relates to physiological stressors associated with training and psychological perceptions of teammates’ burnout. Future research directions exploring potential social influences on athlete burnout are presented.
Marcus Börjesson, Carolina Lundqvist, Henrik Gustafsson, and Paul Davis
The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of flotation REST upon skilled and less skilled golfers’ anxiety in terms of physiological indicators of stress, self-rated anxiety scores, muscle tension, and the effect on golf putting. Prior to performing the putting task participants underwent a treatment of flotation REST or a period of resting in an armchair. Participants completed both treatments in a randomized order with a two-week interval. The results showed that both flotation REST and the armchair treatment reduced systolic blood pressure and heart rate, with no differences between treatments or athlete skill levels. No significant differences between treatments were revealed regarding self-ratings, level of muscle tension or putting precision. The results indicate that flotation REST may be useful for reducing negative symptoms related to stress and anxiety in general; however, no support for direct positive effects on golf performance were found.