This study explored talent-development coaches’ experiences of athletes having faced mental health issues (MHIs). A second objective was to allow participants to share their opinion on how sport environments could improve the support offered to coaches and athletes encountering MHIs. A thematic analysis was performed on 11 verbatim-transcribed interviews conducted with UK-based talent-development coaches. While monitoring and supporting their athletes’ performance and well-being were viewed as day-to-day practice, dealing with MHIs was, however, not considered part of their role for a variety of reasons. Findings also suggest that coaches need more suitable and context-specific knowledge and tools to appropriately respond to and support their athletes. Generating a better understanding of coaches’ perceived role, knowledge, and needs to adequately support their athletes suffering from MHIs is crucial for the design of sport-specific interventions and for the athletes themselves.
Florence Lebrun, Àine MacNamara, Dave Collins, and Sheelagh Rodgers
Mark W. Bruner, Mark Eys, Jeremie M. Carreau, Colin McLaren, and Rachel Van Woezik
Team building (TB) is recognized as one of the most prevalent and promising group-development interventions applied in sport. However, most coaches lack the necessary information to effectively and efficiently target and enhance specific group characteristics and processes. The aim of this study was to develop and apply the Team Environment AssessMent (TEAM) to better inform a TB intervention. Twenty-three male adolescent athletes (mean age 17.9 years) from an elite hockey team completed the TEAM and measures of cohesion before and after a TB intervention. Based on initial TEAM scores, role acceptance and leadership were identified and purposefully targeted in the TB intervention. Athletes’ perceptions of role acceptance, leadership, and task cohesion were stronger after the TB intervention. Furthermore, follow-up interviews with team members and coaches provided additional empirical support for the utility of the TEAM to assess and enhance the efficiency of a TB intervention in sport.
Georgia Allen, Claire Thornton, and Holly Riby
The superstitious actions athletes undertake before competition have been well documented, yet the role of such behaviors has received little qualitative attention. The aim of this study was to explore the role of superstitious routines in professional male boxing. A descriptive phenomenological approach was adopted, and individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 5 professional male athletes in the United Kingdom. Results show that superstition is regularly used by boxers in the lead-up to fights to aid mental preparation, fulfill a need for control, and improve the likelihood of success. Common themes emerged, such as the use of praying and engagement in acts thought to bring good luck and/or the avoidance of behaviors that might bring bad luck. Findings also indicate that despite a rational link, boxers use superstition as a coping mechanism (e.g., as a scapegoat/excuse for losing) and to gain a sense of control.
Andy Gillham and Craig Stone
Elite athletes strive for a superior state of psychological functioning to achieve peak performance, and peak performance is the central construct of this study. Peak performance as a phenomenon is a state of superior functioning allowing athletes to perform at their highest levels, attaining outstanding results. The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of peak performance through semistructured interviews with 16 elite-level American football players. Four higher-order themes divided into mental, physical, emotional, and sensory elements. Those themes are supported by 18 lower-level categories. Findings were largely consistent with previous research despite this being the first study to include American football players. A specific noteworthy conclusion is the connection between mental and physical components that provides ample opportunities for both researchers and applied practitioners. In addition, the participant quotes prompted a return to the discussion of the connection between individual zones of optimal functioning, peak performance, and flow states.
Alex Oliver, Paul J. McCarthy, and Lindsey Burns
This study sought to construct a theoretical understanding of meta-attention in golfers. Eight male golfers (7 competitive-elite and 1 successful-elite) were interviewed about their experiences of attentional processes in competitive golf. A Straussian grounded-theory approach was used throughout the research process, and interview transcripts were analyzed using open, axial, and selective coding. Results indicated that meta-attention is resource based, with metacognitive reflections of logistic and shot resources that facilitate attentional control. Attentional control required successful target selection, consistent preshot routines, and consistent postshot routines. Failures in wider or immediate resources or failure to initiate control routines can lead to internal distraction. The emergent theory provides an understanding of the function of meta-attention in golf performance that can be used by golfers, coaches, or psychologists to improve attentional strategies.
Elmer A. Castillo and Graig M. Chow
The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the impact of a revised performance-profile (PP) intervention on college dancers’ self-awareness and behavior-change levels. The secondary aim was to assess dancers’ perceptions of the benefits and future use of the revised-PP technique. Forty-four dancers were randomly allocated to a revised-PP condition or a didactic-PP condition to examine the pre–post impacts of a single PP intervention on the outcome measures. Results revealed significant differences in the pre–postintervention self-awareness scores between conditions, with a significant increase in the revised-PP condition and a decrease in the didactic-PP condition. There was no significant difference in pre–post behavior scores between the experimental and active-control conditions. Revised-PP participants indicated that the intervention provided several benefits and that they were highly likely to use their individual PPs again in the future.
Stephen Pack, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Stacy Winter, and Brian Hemmings
Previous research demonstrates that sport psychology consultants use humor to facilitate working alliances, reinforce client knowledge, and create healthy learning environments. The current study sought to gain further insights into consultants’ reflections on the role of humor, humor styles, purposes for humor, and experiences of humor use. Forty-eight sport psychology consultants completed an online survey comprising open-ended questions. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: “It’s the way I tell ’em,” “It’s the way I don’t tell ’em,” “This is why I tell ’em,” and learning to use humor in consultancy. Participants used 2 styles of humor (deadpan and self-deprecating), each with the goal of facilitating the working alliance. Although not all participants used humor during consultancy, its incorporation might render the working alliance and real relationship as resources in ways (e.g., a “barometer” that predicts consultancy outcomes) previously not considered in applied sport psychology.
Jordan D. Herbison, Luc J. Martin, and Mustafa Sarkar
Adversity is viewed as both an inevitable and an important experience for elite athletes. The purpose of this study was to explore elite athletes’ perceptions of the experiences and characteristics that helped them overcome a shared sport-specific adversity. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 professional athletes (M age = 27.25, SD = 3.28 yr) who had progressed to careers in the National Hockey League (NHL) despite not being selected in the annual amateur entry draft. Participants discussed their long-term objectives of playing in the NHL, previous experiences with adversity, certain psychological characteristics that facilitated their progression (e.g., competitiveness, passion, confidence), and the significance of social support as key factors that helped them overcome the initial and subsequent adversities associated with being unselected during the amateur entry draft. Practical implications and proposed avenues for future research are discussed in the context of the study’s limitations.