This paper presents a case study of an elite female coach and her career termination from a 20+ year career following a critical life incident. A novel autobiographical approach was adopted whereby the participant undertook expressive writing to describe her experiences before, during, and following coaching an athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Thematic analysis indicated seven phases related to the participant’s experiences of the critical incident: Build up to the event, the event, the aftermath, recovery and reflection on the event, sampling of new avenues, enlightenment, and career rebirth. The findings reinforce the high demands placed upon elite coaches, the subsequent threats to physical and mental well-being, and the importance of having robust psychological skills and suitable social support to cope with these demands. Implications for preparing and supporting coaches for successful career transition are discussed.
Göran Kenttä, Stephen Mellalieu, and Claire-Marie Roberts
Robert Joel Schinke, Amy T. Blodgett, Kerry R. McGannon, Yang Ge, Odirin Oghene, and Michelle Seanor
This study explores a composite vignette of athletes acculturating in a national sport system. The research questions were: What acculturation narratives did the athletes’ construct when they considered the notion of their receiving culture’s national sport system? And within these, what are the key challenges in relation to support that the athletes storied about their receiving culture’s national sport system as they sought to acculturate? The research was framed in critical acculturation (see Chirkov, 2009a, 2009b). The fluid process of acculturation is illustrated using creative nonfiction presenting one unifying voice presented within a composite vignettes (see Spalding & Phillips, 2007). The three themes in the acculturation vignette were as follows: (a) nothing but love—a nationalistic romance, (b) losing my romance with nationalism, and (c) dollars in exchange for newcomer results. This project reveals how immigrant elite athletes can move between distinct narratives that can contradict one another.
Nicole Westlund Stewart and Craig Hall
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 6-week CG imagery intervention on strategic decision-making in curling. A secondary purpose was to determine whether curlers’ imagery ability and CG imagery use would be improved. Eleven varsity curlers from a Canadian postsecondary institution engaged in weekly guided imagery sessions that were held at the curling club before their regularly scheduled team practices. Curlers’ response times on a computerized curling strategy assessment significantly improved from baseline to post-intervention (p < .05). In addition, their kinesthetic imagery ability, CG imagery use, and MG-M imagery use significantly increased (p < .05). These results suggest that when curlers are exposed to new scenarios, they learn to store, process, and retrieve relevant information quicker (Simon & Chase, 1973). From a practical standpoint, CG imagery training can improve curlers’ strategy performance, including their ability to use various strategies in game situations.
Jennifer M. Schumacher, Andrea J. Becker, and Lenny D. Wiersma
Phenomenological interview methods were used to examine the experiences of thirteen channel swimmers (nine males and four females) with an average age of 41.08 years (SD = 10.05). All participants successfully completed an official channel crossing of 20 or more miles within the past 2 years. Analyses of the interview transcripts yielded 2,028 meaning units that were grouped into subthemes, themes, and major dimensions (e.g., Patton, 2002). The final thematic structure consisted of three major dimensions that chronicled the swimmers’ experiences including: before my channel swim, during my channel swim, and after my channel swim. This manuscript specifically focuses on the themes from within the dimension of during my channel swim, which includes the swimmers’ environmental, physical, social, and psychological experiences during the swim itself as well as the coping mechanisms that they used to succeed.
Margaret Dupee, Tanya Forneris, and Penny Werthner
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.
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.