This study explored the characteristics, contextual factors and consequences of counterfactual thoughts in seven elite athletes using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Counterfactuals were experienced regularly with self-directed and upward counterfactuals (cognitions about how things could be better) being most frequent. These upward counterfactuals typically occurred following performance that was below participants’ goals and expectations. These thoughts were perceived by participants to have a negative affect initially, and that they then led to facilitative behavioral consequences around learning and development. Some elements of counterfactual thinking could be used as a useful reflective tool to encourage elite athletes to problem solve and motivate cognitive, emotional and behavioral change to enhance future performance.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
The purpose of this study was to explore how sport and exercise psychologists working in sport understand and use motivational interviewing (MI). Eleven practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and inductive thematic analysis identified themes linked to explicit use of MI, such as building engagement and exploring ambivalence to change; the value of MI, such as enhancing the relationship, rolling with resistance and integrating with other approaches; and barriers to the implementation of MI in sport psychology, such as a limited evidence-base in sport. Findings also indicated considerable implicit use of MI by participants, including taking an athlete-centered approach, supporting athlete autonomy, reflective listening, demonstrating accurate empathy, and taking a nonprescriptive, guiding role. This counseling style appears to have several tenets to enhance current practice in sport psychology, not least the enhancement of therapeutic alliance.
Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy, and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek
Coaching is characterized by an inherent pathos between the goals coaches hope to accomplish and those that are realized (Jones & Wallace, 2005). Coaches can actively enhance the likelihood of optimal outcomes through orchestration, a process of incremental coping intended to create improvement in performance (Jones & Wallace, 2005). The current study explored to what extent pathos also manifests in the lives of elite athletes and whether they engage in processes consistent with orchestration. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. Primarily deductive analysis of the qualitative data provided confirmation for four domains: (a) sources of ambiguity created by coaches, (b) other sources of ambiguity within student-athletes’ experiences, (c) attempted strategies for orchestrating the pathos, and (d) relationships are crucial for navigating the pathos. The findings potentially offer an approach to understanding the challenges athletes face, which allows coaches to more accurately provide assistance.
Thomas Davies, Andrew Cruickshank, and Dave Collins
Recent retrospective research has identified effective meso-level thoughts and behaviors for high level golfers (i.e., those deployed between shots and holes). However, how such thoughts and behaviors are actually used during this phase of performance and, or if, they vary in different contexts is unknown. Accordingly, real-time observations followed by stimulated recall interviews were used to examine the meso-level processes used by high-level golfers during competition. Results indicated use of the same pre2- and post-shot routines identified in prior retrospective research but with key differences in the content and application of some of their stages relative to shot outcome. These similarities and differences are discussed along with implications for practitioners: including the importance of developing metacognitive skills, and prioritizing the development of performance expertise over performance competencies for high-level golfers at the meso-level of performance.
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Peter Olusoga and Göran Kenttä
This study investigated how the experiences of two elite coaches contributed to and shaped their stories of burnout and withdrawal from high performance coaching. The coaches whose narratives we explore were both middle-aged head coaches, one in a major team sport at the highest club level, and one in an individual Olympic sport at international level. Through a thematic narrative analysis, based on in-depth interviews, the stories of the two coaches are presented in four distinct sections: antecedents, experiences of coaching with burnout symptoms, withdrawal from sport, and the process of recovery and personal growth. These narratives have implications for high performance coaching, such as the importance of role clarity, work-home inference, counseling, mentoring, and social support as means to facilitate recovery, and the need for additional research with coaches who have left sport, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complete burnout-recovery process.
Véronique Richard, Wayne Halliwell, and Gershon Tenenbaum
The study examined the effect of an improvisation intervention on figure skating performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness skills. Nine elite figure skaters participated in a 10-session program based on Cirque du Soleil artistic principles. A mixed methodology using questionnaires, competition scores, and interviews was used to test the program effects on these variables. Descriptive statistics revealed small but imperative increases in competition performance, perceived artistic performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness. Significant (p < .05) effect of time was revealed only for creativity and artistic performance variables. Qualitative data supported these results. Skaters described verbally that movements were performed more freely, attention was better focused on performance, and they overcame shyness. Quantitative and qualitative data are discussed interactively in relation to performance enhancement and personal growth.
Saqib Deen, Martin James Turner, and Rebecca S.K. Wong
The use of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) in sport psychology has received little attention in research to date, but is steadily growing. Therefore, to further add to the building body of research, this study examines the efficacy of REBT (comprising five counseling sessions, and four homework assignments) in decreasing self-reported irrational beliefs, and increasing self-reported resilient qualities in five elite squash players from Malaysia. The study uses a single-case multiple-baseline across-participants design. Visual and graphical analyses revealed that REBT reduced self-reported irrational beliefs significantly in all athletes, and raised self-reported resilient qualities significantly in some athletes. Athlete’s feedback, reflections on the usage of REBT, Athlete Rational Resilience Credos, and the practice of sport psychology across cultures are discussed, along with guidance for the future use of REBT in relevant settings.
Evangelos Vertopoulos and Martin J. Turner
The present study examined the effects of a rational emotive personal-disclosure mutual-sharing (REPDMS) intervention on the rational and irrational beliefs of a group of Greek adolescent athletes that had previously participated in four rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) educational workshops. Measurements were taken before REBT workshops (baseline), during the REBT workshop period, and after the REPDMS session (postintervention). Further, a comparison group received REBT education, but did not receive REPDMS, allowing the between-subjects comparison between participants who received REPDMS and participants who did not. Findings support the hypotheses that REPDMS has positive effects on further reducing irrational beliefs, enhancing rational beliefs, and prolonging the duration of these positive effects, over and above REBT education alone. Qualitative inspection of the REPDMS transcript also revealed participant perceptions of REBT, and served to stimulate critical author reflections on REPDMS.
Al Petitpas, Judy Van Raalte, and Ted France
Positive youth development (PYD) programs assist youth in acquiring the skills, attitudes, and values that are critical in coping with various risk factors in their communities. The purpose of this paper is to highlight strategies that sport psychology consultants can use to support PYD programs and develop collaboration and consistency of delivery among community youth serving agencies that use sport and physical activity-based experiences to promote positive youth development. In particular, the role of sport psychology consultants within sport and physical activity programs that serve as a catalyst for community youth development (CYD) is examined. Barriers to collaboration among community-based organizations are identified and strategies to overcome these obstacles are proposed. Sport psychology consultants are in a unique position to support PYD and CYD in the athletes and communities they serve.