This study identified helpful and unhelpful encouragement at mass participation running events and explored the meaning that runners found in encouragement. First, 10 k and half-marathon postevent surveys differentiated instructional and motivational components of helpful and unhelpful support. Second, an inductive, reflexive thematic analysis of 14 interviews highlighted the reciprocal relationship between the crowd and runners, whereby quality of support was reflected in runners’ emotions and behavior. Participants drew pride in participation and belief from the crowd, and they wanted to “give back” through doing their best. Personal and authentic support was particularly valued. Although support was widely appreciated, at times it created a pressure to “perform.” As a novel intervention based on our combined findings, we recommend that crowds, event organizers, and psyching teams give encouragement “with IMPACT” (Instructional; Motivational; Personalized; Authentic; Confidence-building; Tailored to the distance). Crowds should also demonstrate the “core conditions” of authenticity, empathy, and being nonjudgmental within their encouragement.
Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls, Alister McCormick, and Melissa Coyle
Tom Williams, Lynne Evans, Angus Robertson, Lew Hardy, Stuart Roy, and Daniel Lewis
The purpose of this study was to identify factors that distinguished between injured athletes who displayed high compared with low levels of rehabilitation adherence following anterior cruciate ligament reconstructive surgery. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of these factors, semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with six high adherers, six matched low adherers and for each injured athlete, a significant other. Thematic analysis was used to identify the themes that distinguished between high and low adherers. Three themes were generated based on the findings: (a) preparation for postoperative rehabilitation, (b) an active versus passive approach to rehabilitation, and (c) the threat of a poor outcome. Each theme comprised a number of subthemes that further elucidated the participants’ rehabilitation experiences and adherence behaviors. The findings have important implications for medical professionals, sport psychology consultants, coaches, and athletes with a vested interest in expediting recovery following anterior cruciate ligament reconstructive surgery.
Lennie Waite, Chris Stanley, Brian Zuleger, and Anne Shadle
In preparation for the 2020–2024 Olympic cycle, members of the USA Track and Field sport psychology (SP) subcommittee investigated the SP service provision needs and preferences of 88 elite Olympic-level athletes. A mixed-methods needs analysis was employed, which consisted of surveys, interviews, and a focus group, to help understand current SP usage and shape future SP services for USA Track and Field. Findings highlighted a lack of knowledge and exposure to SP services and a desire for increased contact with SP professionals among athletes, exposing gaps and room for improvement in service delivery. Athletes cited flexibility in terms of service delivery mode and shared common core preferences for mental training, including help managing stress, pressure, emotions, and other challenges of competition and training. The results are discussed in relation to strengthening the effectiveness of service provision through increasing visibility, accessibility, and education regarding the benefits of SP services.
Christopher Maechel, Todd M. Loughead, V. Vanessa Wergin, Tom Kossak, and Jürgen Beckmann
Shared leadership is an emergent team phenomenon, emphasizing that it originates from the interaction of all team members. However, previous athlete leadership studies have focused on the individual level, omitting the role of team member interaction. In order to develop shared athlete leadership as an emergent team phenomenon, we utilized a solution-focused brief therapy paradigm, which uses coconstruction to engender change for social systems (e.g., sport teams). Sixty athletes from six sport teams (three in the experimental condition and three in the control condition) participated in a mixed-methods experimental design consisting of parallel quantitative and qualitative data collection along with a combined interpretation of these data. The quantitative results support a difference in development of shared leadership between groups, while the qualitative analysis resulted in four themes that indicate changes in interactional patterns and relational structures within the teams.
Jamie Taylor, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank
Feedback from coaches and other stakeholders is well established as having a significant impact on the development of performance. This study investigated perceptions of the feedback process and the sense-making of athletes transitioning to elite sport. Specifically, the aims were to (a) investigate the number of feedback providers young players reported through their talent development journey, (b) understand the degree of coherence that players perceived from this feedback, and (c) explore the sense-making process of individual players by understanding their decision criteria. The findings suggest that pathway athletes were offered an excess of feedback from multiple sources, often incoherently. Yet, players lacked an appropriate sense-making process to appreciate, critically reflect on, and apply feedback. Given the implications for talent development, we offer suggestions for the coach and system to optimize feedback processes and develop gourmet consumers.
Daniel R.F. Martin, Alessandro Quartiroli, and Christopher R.D. Wagstaff
Scholars have noted the importance of helping professionals’ work experiences through the exploration of Professional Quality of Life. Due to the unique experiences of sport psychology professionals, a sport psychology specific equivalent of the construct, the Sport Psychology Professional Quality of Life (SP-PQL), has recently been developed based on the experience of senior and experienced sport psychology professionals, yet researchers have not accounted for the experiences of neophytes. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 neophyte sport psychology professionals with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of how they conceptualize, experience, and manage their SP-PQL. The data offer novel insights regarding neophyte’s conceptualizations of SP-PQL as well as the barriers and facilitators toward their SP-PQL. We conclude that greater emphasis on SP-PQL is required within British sport psychology development pathways, outlining considerations for educators, such as the provision of educational resources and curricula to better inform and support future neophyte’s SP-PQL.
Tim Woodman and Charlotte Welch
Individuals high in alexithymia use high-risk sport to regulate their anxiety. Given the conceptual similarities between arduous high-risk sports and extreme endurance running, we investigated the relationship between alexithymia and the anxiolytic effects of endurance running. We measured marathon and ultramarathon runners (n = 35) on alexithymia, and pre- and postrace anxiety. Bootstrapped regression analyses using MEMORE revealed that alexithymia moderated the relationship between pre- and postrace anxiety such that there was a significant anxiety reduction for individuals high in alexithymia only. In conclusion, extreme endurance running provides an emotion regulation function for individuals high in alexithymia. The modest sample size points to the need for replication and further exploration.
Darren J. Devaney, Mark Stephen Nesti, Noora J. Ronkainen, Martin A. Littlewood, and David Richardson
This study aims to highlight how an existential-humanistic perspective can inform athlete support and in doing so, emphasize the importance of explicating the philosophical underpinnings of athlete lifestyle support. Drawing on applied experience with elite youth cricketers over a 12-month period, ethnographic data were collected through the observation, maintenance of case notes, and a practitioner reflective diary. Based on thematic analysis, we created three nonfictional vignettes that we use to illustrate how existential-humanistic theorizing can inform lifestyle support. We discuss the implications of this professional philosophy in terms of considerations for performance and talent development programs, and how holistic support for athletes is positioned. We also discuss implications for athlete lifestyle and performance psychology practitioners, with regard to training, underpinning theoretical grounding of support and the strategic positioning of their practitioner roles.