The field of applied sport psychology has traditionally grounded its performance enhancement techniques in the cognitive-behavioral elements of psychological skills training. These interventions typically advocate for controlling one’s cognitive and emotional processes during performance. Mindfulness-based approaches, on the other hand, have recently been introduced and employed more frequently in an effort to encourage athletes to adopt a nonjudgmental acceptance of all thoughts and emotions. Like many applied interventions in sport psychology, however, the body of literature supporting the efficacy of mindfulness-based approaches for performance enhancement is limited, and few efforts have been made to draw evidence-based conclusions from the existing research. The current paper had the purpose of systematically reviewing research on mindfulness-based interventions with athletes to assess (a) the efficacy of these approaches in enhancing sport performance and (b) the methodological quality of research conducted thus far. A comprehensive search of relevant databases, including peer-reviewed and gray literature, yielded 19 total trials (six case studies, two qualitative studies, seven nonrandomized trials, and four randomized trials) in accordance with the inclusion criteria. An assessment tool was used to score studies on the quality of research methodology. While a review of this literature yielded preliminary support for the efficacy of mindfulness-based performance enhancement strategies, the body of research also shows a need for more methodologically rigorous trials.
Ryan Sappington and Kathryn Longshore
Mimi S. H. Ho, Paul R. Appleton, Jennifer Cumming, and Joan L. Duda
This study examined whether the relationships between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism and symptoms of burning out (i.e., reduced accomplishment, emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation, negative affect, and symptoms of physical ill-health) were moderated by hearing ability. A total of 417 athletes (hearing = 205, deaf = 212) completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Hewitt & Flett, 1991, 2004), the negative affect subscale of the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2001), and the Physical Symptoms Checklist (Emmons, 1991). Regression analyses revealed the hypothesized relationships were generally consistent across both groups. The current findings provide insight into the potential effects of perfectionism dimensions for hearing and deaf athletes’ health.
Kathryn Longshore and Michael Sachs
Mindfulness-based research in sport has focused on athletes, while coaches remain unexplored. Research consistently shows that coaches experience high stress, which can lead to burnout, reduced performance, and emotional mismanagement. The present study developed and explored Mindfulness Training for Coaches (MTC), which is aimed at increasing mindfulness and emotional stability while reducing anxiety. Participants were 20 Division I coaches. The mixed-method design included trait and state measures of anxiety, mindfulness, and emotion, along with qualitative semistructured interviews. Trained coaches reported significantly less anxiety and greater emotional stability from pre- to posttraining. The state measures showed trained coaches were lower in anxiety and adverse emotions at each time point. Interviews showed six distinct positive impacts on coaches: anxiety and stress; emotions; mindfulness; coaching; athletes; and personal life. MTC is a promising intervention for coaches to reduce stress, improve well-being, and enhance coach-athlete interactions.
Susan C. Davies and Brenna M. Bird
Student-athletes often fail to report concussion signs and symptoms, thereby putting themselves at risk for delayed recovery and permanent impairment. The present study examined motivations for underreporting concussion symptoms among college athletes enrolled at an NCAA Division I university. One hundred and ninety-three student-athletes in high-risk sports completed a multiple-choice survey related to self-reporting of suspected concussion symptoms and reporting of teammates’ symptoms. Results indicated that 45% of participants did not report their own suspected concussions during the present season and 50% did not report suspected concussions in teammates. Responses revealed that the primary reason for underreporting a suspected concussion was the belief that the blow to the head was not serious enough. Suggestions are provided for athletes, athletic staff, and coaches to improve players’ awareness of the signs, symptoms, and consequences of concussions, as well as how to report suspected concussions appropriately.
Nicole Dubuc-Charbonneau and Natalie Durand-Bush
The purpose of this study was to implement and assess the impact of a person-centered, feel-based self-regulation intervention on the stress, burnout, well-being, and self-regulation capacity of eight university student-athletes experiencing burnout. This was warranted given the negative outcomes associated with athlete burnout, the scarcity of burnout research focusing on student-athletes, and the lack of intervention research addressing burnout in sport.
A mixed methods design including questionnaires administered at four time points during the athletic season, pre- and postintervention interviews, and multiple intervention sessions was used.
Repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed that stress and burnout levels significantly decreased, and well-being and self-regulation capacity levels significantly increased as the intervention progressed. The qualitative data supported these findings.
It appears that university student-athletes participating in this type of intervention can learn to effectively manage themselves and their environment to reduce adverse symptoms and improve optimal functioning.
Brendan Smith, Stephanie Hanrahan, Ruth Anderson, and Lyndel Abbott
Leaving home or transitioning to another environment is a part of every individual’s personal growth and is often considered to be a significant developmental milestone. The distress that individuals experience with this transition has been identified as homesickness. Elite sporting institutions, such as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), have recognized that problems associated with homesickness appear to be a predominant cause of poor well-being and dropout among athletes living in a national sports institute. This study aimed to investigate if individual personality traits and coping styles could predict levels of homesickness in these athletes. Neuroticism, self-esteem, and mental escape were significant predictors of homesickness. These results suggest that athletes who are vulnerable to homesickness can be identified before the commencement of their sporting scholarships so they can be treated accordingly.
Gershon Tenenbaum, Andrew Lane, Selen Razon, Ronnie Lidor, and Robert Schinke
We introduce a two-perception probabilistic concept of adaptation (TPPCA), which accounts for fast and slow adaptation processes. The outcome of both processes depends on the perceptual difference (termed herein a quantum) of how an individual perceives his or her abilities, skills, and capacities (βv) to interact, cope, and perform a given task (δi). Thus, the adaptation process is determined by (βv – δi). Fast adaptation processes target aspects that require immediate responses while slow adaptation processes involve ongoing adaptation to long-term demands. We introduce the TPPCA in several domains of inquiry, which rely on fast adaptation processes (perceptual–cognitive–action coupling, performance routines, psychological crisis, reversal states), slow adaptation processes (i.e., career aspirations, burnout), and processes that can be either fast or slow (i.e., flow, affect and mood changes, emotion regulation).
Fran Longstaff, Nick Heather, Susan Allsop, Elizabeth Partington, Mark Jankowski, Helen Wareham, A. St Clair Gibson, and Sarah Partington
This study examined whether students engaged in university sport have different drinking outcome expectancies and normative beliefs than students who are not engaged in university sport. A cross-sectional survey of university students in England in 2008–2009 was undertaken. A questionnaire battery, including the Drinking Expectancies Questionnaire (DEQ) and a measure of normative beliefs, was completed by 770 students from seven universities across England. Responses from 638 students who were not abstaining from alcohol were analyzed. Students engaged in university sport have significantly higher drinking expectancies of assertion compared with students not engaged in university sport. Moreover, students engaged in university sport consistently report higher personal alcohol consumption and higher perceptions of consumption in those around them than students not engaged in university sport. Both assertion and the perception that students around them drink heavily provide only a partial explanation for why students engaged in university sport drink more than those not engaged in university sport. Further research is required to identify the reasons for heavy drinking among students involved in university sport in England.
Theresa C. Brown and Mary D. Fry
This study examined the effects of a university recreation center intervention aimed at increasing members’ perceptions of a caring, task-involving climate. In addition, members’ perceptions of staff behaviors and their own behaviors were measured. College students (N = 282) completed questionnaires before and after an intervention designed to increase perceptions of a caring, task-involving climate. Results revealed the intervention did increase members’ perceptions of the caring, task-involving climate while reducing perceptions of the ego-involving climate. Members’ perceptions of the staff and their own positive behaviors also increased. The staff’s behaviors predicted members’ perceptions of the three types of climates; moreover, members’ perceptions of the ego-involving climate negatively predicted their caring, task-involving behaviors. The study suggests that members’ perceptions of the climate can be positively influenced through minimal training with recreation center staff and that the behaviors in which the staff engage are an antecedent to members’ perceptions of the motivational climate.
James L. W. Houle and Annette S. Kluck
This study explored the extent to which athletic identity, belief of financial sustainability through participation at the professional level, scholarship status, and career decision-making self-efficacy predicted career maturity in college athletes. In addition, whether the relationship between athletic identity and career maturity differed depending upon scholarship status, belief of sustaining oneself financially as a professional athlete, and career decision-making self-efficacy was explored. Participants were 221 student-athletes from a large southeastern university. Participants provided demographic information and completed the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale—Short Form, and Career Decision Scale. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that athletic identity was inversely related to career maturity. In addition, career decision-making self-efficacy was related to career maturity, with high career decision-making self-efficacy associated with higher career maturity. Future research is needed to further explore psychological variables that may explain the relationship between athletic identity and career maturity.