Although mindfulness training for athletes is an area of increasing interest, few studies have focused on the qualitative experiences of athletes in such programs. Before beginning six sessions of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) training, 45 mixed-sport collegiate athletes reported what they hoped and expected to get from the training, and responded afterward to open-ended questions about their experiences. Participants’ responses were coded for themes, with high interrater reliability. Athletes initially hoped to gain psychological benefits in both sport and everyday life, such as relaxation and less stress or anxiety, better emotion regulation, mental toughness, and self-awareness, as well as sport performance improvement. Overall, they found MSPE to be a positive experience and reported many of the same benefits that they expected. Participants also provided constructive feedback and recommendations for future MSPE training. Finally, there was evidence to suggest that athletes’ expectations predicted similar improvements in outcome measures.
Erin G. Mistretta, Carol R. Glass, Claire A. Spears, Rokas Perskaudas, Keith A. Kaufman, and Dennis Hoyer
Hannah Cooper and Stacy Winter
Disordered eating is a psychological ailment that befalls many athletes and can persist into retirement. Links have been established between disordered eating and societal and sport-specific pressures; however, little research has focused on the perspective of retired athletes in a time-based sport. The purpose of the current research was to explore the conceptualization of disordered eating in relation to swimming participation, how retirement affects eating patterns, and ways to mitigate disordered eating. Following IPA methodological guidelines, a homogeneous sample of retired swimmers (N = 6) was chosen for semistructured, participant-driven interviews determined by scores on a disordered-eating questionnaire. Three superordinate themes were revealed: (1) pressures unique to swimming, (2) transition to eating pattern awareness, and (3) maintaining ideal eating patterns in retirement. The results revealed a combination of novel findings and expansion of previous data on disordered eating. Suggestions for applications of current findings and for future research are also discussed.
Annamari Maaranen, Erica G. Beachy, Judy L. Van Raalte, Britton W. Brewer, Thaddeus J. France, and Albert J. Petitpas
Mental blocks, phenomena in which athletes lose the ability to perform previously automatic skills, are well known but poorly understood. Study 1 was designed to assess mental blocks in gymnastics and determine if such blocks are distinct from related conditions, such as slumps, choking, and fear of injury. Mental blocks were reported to have unique characteristics and to affect backward moving skills. Study 2 was a qualitative analysis of the experiences of 5 gymnasts currently experiencing mental blocks on backward moving skills. Such block is called flikikammo and was described as cycling on and off, spreading to other events and skills, affecting visualization, and worsening when performance of the affected skills was forced by coaches. The findings are the first to detail the experience of gymnasts currently experiencing the condition. Additional research may help identify ways to alleviate and/or prevent flikikammo.
Jamie L. Shapiro, Britton W. Brewer, Allen E. Cornelius, and Judy L. Van Raalte
The purposes of this study were to investigate patterns of emotional response to reconstructive surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee following sport injury and to examine the extent to which neuroticism differed across patterns of adjustment. Participants were 73 patients (51% recreational athletes, 46% competitive athletes, 3% nonathletes) who had ACL reconstruction surgery and who had low levels of negative mood before surgery. Participants completed measures of personality and negative mood before surgery and completed daily assessments of negative mood for 6 weeks postsurgery. The negative mood of participants was classified into three patterns for two different time periods. Participants with patterns of resilience outnumbered those with patterns of disturbance. Participants with patterns involving mood disturbance one week after surgery had significantly higher presurgery neuroticism levels. Practitioners should target individuals with high neuroticism before surgery for emotion management interventions to prevent mood disturbance following ACL surgery.
Agnès Bonnet, Vincent Bréjard, and Jean-Louis Pedinielli
Objectives for this study were, first, to describe individual differences in risk taking among scuba divers. Differences were examined on personality dimensions and psycho-affective variables, including positive and negative affect, as well as alexithymia. In addition, the study examined contributors to two types of behavior associated with scuba diving—deliberate risk taking and controlled participation in a high-risk sport (non-risk-taking). A cross-sectional design was used, and 131 participants were assessed on extraversion-neuroticism, affectivity, and alexithymia. The broad dimensions of personality and affectivity explained risk taking among divers. Alexithymia differentially predicted two types of risktaking behavior (direct or short-term and indirect or long-term) and was associated significantly with short-term risk-taking behavior.
Leilani A. Madrigal and Patrick B. Wilson
This study assessed the hormonal and psychological responses to a free-throw shooting competition in twelve NCAA Division I female collegiate basketball players. Salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and testosterone were collected before and after the competition, in addition to a self-reported measure of anxiety. Using nonparametric statistics, cortisol (Z = –3.06, p = .002) and testosterone (Z = –2.67, p = .008) levels were significantly higher precompetition compared with postcompetition. There were no statistically significant differences between winners and losers for anxiety or hormone responses. Concentration disruption (rho = .63, p = .03) and total competitive anxiety (rho = .68, p = .02) were positively correlated with precompetition cortisol. Concentration disruption also correlated positively with postcompetition cortisol (rho = .62 p = .03) and postcompetition testosterone (rho = .64, p = .03). Future studies are needed to examine the psychological and physiological stress responses of basketball players during different competition tasks.
Maggie Evans, Kelly J. Rohan, Alan Howard, Sheau-Yan Ho, Patricia M. Dubbert, and Barbara A. Stetson
This prospective, naturalistic study examined the relationship between different exercise dimensions (i.e., frequency, intensity, duration, and omissions of planned exercise) and psychological well-being among community adults participating in self-selected exercise. For at least 2 months, participants kept daily exercise diaries and provided weekly ratings for depressed mood, anxiety, sleep quality, concentration, alertness, confidence, weight satisfaction, physical fitness, appetite, satisfaction with physical shape and appearance, and stress experienced. Linear mixed model analyses revealed positive associations between exercise frequency, intensity, and duration across a broad range of psychological and mood-related outcomes. In contrast, omissions of planned exercise were associated with a global and detrimental effect on psychological health. A main effect of age and a moderating effect of gender was observed in many of the models. This work contributes to literature on exercise dimensions and psychological constructs and informs future research that is needed to develop physical activity recommendations for improved mental health.
Jordan Golding, Aaron Johnson, and Andrew T. Sensenig
Psychological momentum in sports is a series of high or low human performances that seem to defy statistical randomness, and instead is often attributed to a positive feedback system in the athlete’s physiology and psyche. Quantitative approaches have found some evidence of psychological momentum. We measured the throw speeds and accuracy of adult males throwing baseballs while subjecting them to verbal criticism (positive or negative). Our study of short-term momentum suggested evidence of psychological momentum only in top-performing university baseball players, and not in the lower-performing players or in nonathletes.
Isobelle J.R. Biggin, Jan H. Burns, and Mark Uphill
Research suggests elite athletes have an equal—or, in some circumstances, possibly higher—probability of developing mental ill-health as the general population. However, understanding of these issues among athletes and coaches remains largely limited. The perceptions of mental-health problems among 19 elite athletes and 16 coaches were explored using two concurrent three-round Delphi surveys whose responses were compared. Athletes and coaches expressed different opinions and experiences of mental ill-health among elite athletes. However, both groups felt the pressure athletes place on themselves is a significant contributing factor and that obsessional compulsive tendencies and anxiety may be particularly prevalent. While associated stigma was thought to be a barrier to seeking support, both groups felt sport and clinical psychologists would provide the most appropriate support, with coaches playing an important signposting role. Implications for athletes, coaches, and clinical and sport psychologists are explored and suggestions for future research are presented.
Ece Bekaroglu and Özlem Bozo
The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between attachment styles, emotion regulation strategies, and their possible effects on health-promoting behaviors among those who participate (N = 109) versus those who do not participate in extreme sports (N = 202). Multiple mediation analyses were conducted to test the hypotheses. Different nonadaptive emotion regulation strategies mediated the relationship between insecure attachment styles and health-promoting behaviors in two groups of the current study. In the extreme sports group, lack of awareness about emotions and lack of goals while dealing with negative emotions mediated the relationship between anxious attachment style and health-promoting behaviors; and lack of goals while dealing with negative emotions mediated the relationship between avoidant attachment style and health-promoting behaviors. In participants who do not engage in extreme sports, lack of clarity about emotions mediated the relationship between anxious attachment style and health-promoting behaviors. Findings and their implications were discussed in the light of the literature.