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.
The Psychological Characteristics of Performance Under Pressure in Professional Rugby Union Referees
Denise M. Hill, Nic Matthews, and Ruth Senior
Volume 30 (2016): Issue 4 (Dec 2016)
The Story of Withdrawals During an Ultra-Trail Running Race: A Qualitative Investigation of Runners’ Courses of Experience
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.
Assessment of Performance-Related Experiences: An Individualized Approach
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.
Building Mental Toughness: Perceptions of Sport Psychologists
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.
Coping With the Demands of Professional Practice: Sport Psychology Consultants’ Perspectives
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.
The Effects of Perfectionism in Elite Sport: Experiences of Unhealthy Perfectionists
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.
How to Classify Who Experienced Flow from Who Did Not Based on the Flow State Scale-2 Scores: A Pilot Study of Latent Class Factor Analysis
Masato Kawabata and Rachel Evans
The present study examined the extent to which scores on the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) could differentiate individuals who experienced flow characteristics in physical activity from those who did not. A total of 1,048 participants completed the Japanese version of the FSS-2. Latent class factor analysis (LCFA), which combines the strengths of both latent class analysis and factor analysis, was conducted on the FSS-2 responses. Four classes were identified through a series of LCFAs and the patterns of the item-average scores for the nine flow attributes were found parallel among these classes. The top two classes (15.1% and 38.9% of the whole sample) were considered the groups who experienced flow characteristics during their physical activities. These results indicated that individuals who experienced flow attributes in physical activity could be differentiated from those who did not based on their FSS-2 scores. Criteria for classifying individuals into the two groups were proposed.
An Investigation of Attentional Foci and their Temporal Patterns: A Naturalistic Study in Expert Figure Skaters
Marjorie Bernier, Christiane Trottier, Emilie Thienot, and Jean Fournier
This study aimed to explore attentional foci and their temporal patterns in expert skaters in real competition situations. Individual self-confrontation interviews were held with 8 expert figure skaters while they watched their videotaped program performed in official competitions. Qualitative data analysis revealed that skaters used a substantial number of foci, which were classified by content and characteristics. Event listing was used to display the patterns of foci over time, revealing that skaters used distinct processes to prepare for, perform, and evaluate different program elements. These results highlighted the great flexibility and variability of attentional focus, according to circumstantial factors.