The challenges encountered by sport psychologists operating within elite and professional sports teams have arguably been inadequately considered (Nesti, 2010). It has been suggested that this may be due to the inaccessibility of elite team environments (Eubank, Nesti, & Cruickshank, 2014; Nesti, 2010). The purpose of this research was to examine the challenges facing practitioners who operate in elite environments and to illuminate how these were experienced. Qualitative interviews with six experienced applied sport psychologists were conducted and a narrative themed analysis undertaken. Four main themes emerged as most prevalent and meaningful: challenges to congruence, a broader role: managing multiple relationships, the influence of elite sport cultures, and surviving and thriving were presented in narrative form. Practitioners provided experiential insight into how specific challenges were understood and dealt with, and how they are able to provide an effective service while managing themselves and the demands of the environment.
Michael McDougall, Mark Nesti, and David Richardson
Sandra E. Short and Frazer Atkinson
Tim Woodman, Matthew Barlow, and Recep Gorgulu
We present two novel tests of Wegner’s (1994) theory of ironic processes of mental control using a hockey penalty-shooting task (Study 1) and a dart throwing task (Study 2). In Study 1 we aimed to address a significant limitation of ironic effects research in a performance setting by differentiating nonironic performance error from specifically ironic performance error. When instructed not to miss in a specific direction, anxious performers did so a significantly greater number of times; importantly, there was no difference in nonironic error, which provides the first specific support for Wegner’s theory in a performance setting. In Study 2, we present the first examination of the precision of ironic errors. When anxious, participants performed not only more ironically but also performed more precisely in the to-be-avoided zone than when they were not anxious. We discuss the results in the context of the importance of specific instructions in coaching environments.
Liam A. Slack, Ian W. Maynard, Joanne Butt, and Peter Olusoga
The present study evaluated the effectiveness of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Program (MTETP) in elite football officiating. The MTETP consisted of four individual and two group-based workshops designed to develop mental toughness (MT) and enhance performance in three English Football League (EFL) referees. Adopting a single-subject, multiple-baseline-across-participants design, MT and referee-assessor reports were evaluated. Self and coach-ratings of MT highlighted an instant and continued improvement in all three referees during the intervention phases. Performance reports of all referees improved throughout the intervention phases compared with the baseline phase. Social validation data indicated that an array of strategies within the MTETP facilitated MT development. Discussions acknowledge theoretical and practical implications relating to the continued progression of MT interventions in elite sport.
Olivier N. Schmid, Malayna Bernstein, Vanessa R. Shannon, Catherine Rishell, and Catherine Griffith
Tennis has been identified as an ideal context for examining the dynamics of parenting and coaching relationships (Gould et al., 2008) but coaching dual-role relationships remain unexplored in this sport and related investigations only included volunteer coaches (Jowett, 2008; Harwood & Knight, 2012). An open-ended interview approach was used to examine how female tennis players previously coached by their fathers (professional coaches) before competing in college tennis perceived their experiences with the dual-role relationship and the coaching transition. A holistic narrative approach was used to reconstruct retrospectively the stories of the participants’ experiences and understand their development. Despite some beneficial aspects, a majority of participants emphasized their challenging experiences with regards to their needs to manage blurred boundaries, receive paternal approval, and endure their fathers’ controlling and abusive behaviors. Coaching transitions helped normalize father-daughter relationships and provided insight into the respective needs that were fulfilled through the dual-role relationships.
Andy Hill, Áine MacNamara, and Dave Collins
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.
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.