Talent development (TD) is widely recognized as a nonlinear and dynamic process, with psychology a key determinant of long-term success in sport. However, given the role that positive characteristics play in the TD process, there is a relative dearth of research examining the psychological characteristics that may derail development. A retrospective qualitative investigation was conducted with academy coaches and directors within rugby union (n = 15), representing nine different elite English rugby union academies, to identify both positive and negative issues that influenced TD. Comprehensive support was found for existing positive constructs as facilitators of effective development. A range of inappropriately applied ‘positive’ characteristics were identified as having a negative impact on development. Potential clinical issues were also recognized by coaches as talent derailers. It is proposed that by incorporating these potentially negative factors into existing formative assessment tools, a more effective development process can be achieved.
Andy Hill, Áine MacNamara, and Dave Collins
Judy L. Van Raalte, Ruth Brennan Morrey, Allen E. Cornelius, and Britton W. Brewer
Much of the research on self-talk in sport has focused on the effects of assigned self-talk (e.g., instructional self-talk, motivational self-talk) on the performance of laboratory tasks and/or tasks of short duration (Hatzigeorgiadis, Zourbanos, Galanis, & Theodorakis, 2011; Tod, Hardy, & Oliver, 2011). The purpose of this study was to explore more fully the self-talk of athletes involved in competition over an extended period of time. Marathon runners (N = 483) were surveyed. The majority (88%) of runners, those who indicated that they use self-talk during marathons, completed open-ended items describing their self-talk while competing. Runners reported using a rich variety of motivational self-talk as well as spiritual self-talk and mantras, types of self-talk less widely studied in the literature. Given the findings of this research, future studies exploring self-talk use during competition in sporting events of long duration seems warranted.
Mark Eys, M. Blair Evans, Luc J. Martin, Jeannine Ohlert, Svenja A. Wolf, Michael Van Bussel, and Charlotte Steins
A previous meta-analysis examining the relationship between cohesion and performance (Carron, Colman, Wheeler, & Stevens, 2002) revealed that this relationship was significantly stronger for female teams as compared with male teams. The purpose of the current study was to explore perceptions of the cohesion-performance relationship by coaches who have led teams of both genders. Semistructured interviews were employed with Canadian and German coaches with previous experience leading both male and female sport teams. The information obtained through the interviews yielded a number of categories pertaining to potential similarities and differences within female and male sport teams including: (a) the nature of cohesion (e.g., direction of the cohesion-performance relationship), (b) antecedents of cohesion (e.g., approaches to conflict), and (c) the management of cohesion (e.g., developing social cohesion). Overall, the results offer testable propositions regarding gender differences and group involvement in a sport context as well as informing best practices such that teams can attain optimal performance.
Toby Woolway and Chris Harwood
Understanding the practitioner attributes that influence consumers’ preferences is of vital importance to licensing organizations and individual practitioners in the field of sport psychology (Hamberger & Iso-Ahola, 2006; Van Raalte, Brewer, Matheson & Brewer, 1996). This study examined consumer preferences toward three professional titles (sport psychologist, life coach, and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner) and a range of other practitioner characteristics, as well as the extent to which a brief intervention impacted these preferences. Following an assessment of current preferences among athletes (N = 229), researchers presented brief, educational vignettes formed of enhanced information regarding the three professions. Conjoint analysis was used to determine the relative importance of practitioner attributes pre- and postintervention. Interpersonal skills emerged as the most important attribute before intervention. Several significant, postintervention changes emerged in consumer preferences for practitioners, including an increased salience of professional title. The findings are discussed with an emphasis on implications for the training, professional development, and marketing of practitioners to potential clients.
Kate F. Hays
The ability to prepare effectively to execute complex skills under pressure is crucial in a number of performance-focused professions. While there is emerging evidence of best practice little research has sought to compare preparation strategies across professions. As a result, the aim of this research was to explore the approaches employed within a number of professions and whether there are similarities in the techniques and strategies adopted. Participants were 18 “performers,” purposefully selected from sporting, musical, performing arts, and medical domains. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of each participant’s preparation strategies and the functions these strategies fulfilled. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results suggest that there are similarities in both behavioral and mental strategies adopted across professions. Future research should seek to explore the transferability of developmental approaches.
Peter Elsborg, Gregory M. Diment, and Anne-Marie Elbe
The objective of this study was to explore how sport psychology consultants perceive the challenges they face at the Olympic Games. Post-Olympics semistructured interviews with 11 experienced sport psychology consultants who worked at the London Games were conducted. The interviews were transcribed and inductively content analyzed. Trustworthiness was reached through credibility activities (i.e., member checking and peer debriefing). The participants perceived a number of challenges important to being successful at the Olympic Games. These challenges were divided into two general themes: Challenges Before the Olympics (e.g., negotiating one’s role) and Challenges During the Olympics (e.g., dealing with the media). The challenges the sport psychology consultants perceived as important validate and cohere with the challenge descriptions that exist in the literature. The findings extend the knowledge on sport psychology consultancy at the Olympic Games by showing individual contextual differences between the consultants’ perceptions and by identifying four SPC roles at the Olympic Games.
Suzanne Cosh and Phillip J. Tully
Participation in elite-sport and education is stressful and can result in sacrificed educational attainment. A dearth of research, however, has explored the specific stressors encountered by student athletes and coping strategies used, resulting in limited knowledge of how to best support student athletes. Interviews with 20 Australian university student athletes were conducted and data were analyzed via thematic analysis. Interviewees reported encountering numerous stressors, especially relating to schedule clashes, fatigue, financial pressure, and inflexibility of coaches. Athletes identified few coping strategies but reported that support from parents and coaches was paramount. Athletes would benefit from upskilling in several areas such as effective use of time, self-care, time management, enhanced self-efficacy, and specific strategies for coping with stress. Coaches have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in facilitating successful integration of sport and education.