The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived outcomes of a biofeedback and neurofeedback training intervention with high performance athletes. Five Olympic level athletes preparing for world championships and the 2012 Olympic Games took part in a 20 session intervention over the period of one year. At the completion of the intervention, a semistructured interview was conducted with each athlete. The athletes indicated that they became more self-aware, were better able to self-regulate both their physiological and psychological states, developed a greater sense of personal control, and a greater understanding of skills inherent in the field of sport psychology. Three of the athletes made the Canadian Olympic team for the 2012 Olympic Games and two of those athletes won bronze medals. The present study suggests that biofeedback and neurofeedback training may be useful in enabling athletes to perform optimally, in both training and competition, on a consistent basis.
Margaret Dupee, Tanya Forneris, and Penny Werthner
Jack Martin and David Cox
A recently developed social psychological and biographical approach to the study of lives, life positioning analysis (LPA), is applied to the early life experiences of Canadian basketball player Steve Nash for the purpose of identifying sources of his athletic creativity and work ethic. The analysis focuses on Nash’s childhood and adolescence, especially his interactions with his father, brother, coaches, friends, and teammates. The interpretations, results, and conclusions offered describe specific types of interaction with these other individuals as likely influences on the development of important psychological aspects of the team oriented creativity that came to characterize Nash’s unique athletic style. The article concludes with a brief description of the unique yields and possible contributions of this type of biographical case study as a methodological approach in sport psychology.
Denise M. Hill, Nic Matthews, and Ruth Senior
This study used qualitative methods to explore the stressors, appraisal mechanism, emotional response, and effective/ineffective coping strategies experienced by elite rugby union referees during pressurized performances. Participants included seven male rugby union referees from the United Kingdom (Mage = 27.85, SD = 4.56) who had been officiating as full-time professionals for between 1 and 16 years (M = 4.85, SD = 5.42). Data revealed that the referees encountered a number of stressors, which were appraised initially as a ‘threat’, and elicited negatively-toned emotions. The referees were able to maintain performance standards under pressure by adopting proactive, problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies which managed effectively the stressors and their emotions. However, the use of avoidance-coping, reactive control, and informal impression management were perceived as ineffective coping strategies, and associated with poor performance and choking. Recommendations are offered to inform the psychological skills training of rugby union referees.
Roberta Antonini Philippe, Nadège Rochat, Michaël Vauthier, and Denis Hauw
We analyzed the courses of experience of 10 runners who volunteered to describe their experiences of withdrawal during an ultra-trail race. Data collected contained traces of past activities elicited in self-confrontation interviews. Data were coded and compared with identify structures in common sequences. Seven representative sequences were identified: feeling pain; putting meaning to those feelings; adjusting one’s running style; attempting to overcome the problem; other runners’ influences; assessing the situation; and deciding to withdraw. Results showed that disruptive events could cause progressive, cumulative, and varied transformations in runners’ courses of experience that led inevitably to withdrawal. Practical implications for mental preparation and race management are proposed.
Montse C. Ruiz, Yuri Hanin, and Claudio Robazza
In this investigation we describe an individualized approach in the assessment of athletes’ experiences associated with successful and poor performances. Two studies were conducted to develop a profiling procedure to assess eight modalities of performance-related states. In Study 1, six high-level athletes assessed their states before most successful and unsuccessful performances using a preliminary 71-item stimulus list developed by a panel of four emotion researchers. They also rated the intensity of their states on a modified Borg’s CR-10 scale. In Study 2, five top-level divers assessed their states before multiple dives (three successful and three unsuccessful) using a revised 74-item list. The perceived impact on performance was also examined using an open-ended question. Individual profiles reflected two typical curves discriminating successful and unsuccessful performances. High individual variability in item content and intensity was found. Athletes reported a wide range of interrelated experiences associated with their performances. Our findings support the practical utility of individualized profiling to assess athletes’ performance-related states.
Robert Weinberg, Valeria Freysinger, Kathleen Mellano, and Elizabeth Brookhouse
Most of the data obtained in studying mental toughness has come from athletes, coaches, and sometimes parents. The purpose of the present investigation was to explore sport psychologists’ experiences of building mental toughness and their perceptions of how coaches can build mental toughness in their athletes. A phenomenological approach to qualitative research guided the study. Semistructured qualitative interviews with 15 sport psychologists were conducted. A concept map was developed that illustrates the theme and subthemes that emerged from analysis of the interviews. As indicated, sport psychologists felt that coaches could build mental toughness in their athletes by behaving mindfully, which included putting athletes under adverse situations and providing (teaching) them with the mental skills to effectively cope with these adversities. These results both confirm and extend existing research on how to build mental toughness.
Brendan Cropley, Lee Baldock, Stephen D. Mellalieu, Rich Neil, Christopher Robert David Wagstaff, and Ross Wadey
This study aimed to gain an insight into the general coping strategies used by sport psychology consultants (SPCs) based in the UK, and an in-depth understanding of their development and impact. To achieve these aims a mixed-method approach was adopted by means of two linked studies. In study one, BASES accredited and/or BPS chartered SPCs (n = 29) completed the modified COPE inventory (Crocker & Graham, 1995) to gain a better understanding of the general coping strategies used by practitioners. In study two, follow-up interviews (n = 6) with participants sampled from study one were conducted to explore how the reported strategies were developed, the perceived impact of coping/not coping with stressors, and how future SPCs may be better prepared for the stressful nature of consultancy. Findings suggested that the participants had a statistically significant preference to using problem-focused coping strategies. Further, the interviews suggested that coping strategies were primarily developed through reflection on experiences in different contexts. The impacts of coping/not coping and the practical development implications raised are discussed.
Paul A. Sellars, Lynne Evans, and Owen Thomas
This study examined the perfectionism experiences of 10 elite perfectionist athletes (5 male and 5 female). Following completion of the Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-2 (Gotwals & Dunn, 2009), a purposeful sample of unhealthy perfectionists were interviewed in relation to the study aims. Several themes emerged from the data that related to: effects of perfectionism and its antecedents on sporting experiences, specificity and level of perfectionism, and the coping skills and techniques used to counter the potentially detrimental effects of perfectionism. The findings highlighted the multidimensional nature of perfectionism and the need for future research to further explore the efficacy of techniques athletes use to promote healthy and reduce unhealthy facets of perfectionism.