Sport researchers have considered the processes that elite athletes undergo to achieve positive psychological adaptation during significant chronic stressors throughout sport careers and also, acute stressors within important competitions. This review contains a description of competitive and organizational stressors that can hamper an elite athlete’s pursuit of adaptation within the aforementioned circumstances, followed by an identification of the responses that together can foster the desired outcome of adaptation. The authors propose that there are four parts that contribute to an elite athlete’s positive psychological adaptation, presented as parts of a process: (a) the appraisal of stressors, (b) coping strategies, (c) self-regulation strategies, and (d) a consolidated adaptation response. Subsequently, athlete adaptation is considered through examples taken from anecdotal literature and formal research studies pertaining to elite athlete adaptation. Implications are discussed for sport psychologists, mental training consultants, sport scientists, coaches, and athletes.
Robert J. Schinke, Randy C. Battochio, Timothy V. Dube, Ronnie Lidor, Gershon Tenenbaum, and Andrew M. Lane
María Sol Alvarez, Isabel Balaguer, Isabel Castillo, and Joan L. Duda
Drawing from the theories of self-determination (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2000) achievement goals (AGT; Nicholls, 1989), and, in particular, Vallerand’s four-stage casual sequence embedded in his hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (HMIEM; Vallerand, 1997, 2001), this study tested a motivational model in the sport context via structural equation modeling (SEM). Based on the responses of 370 young male soccer players (M age = 14.77), the path analysis results offered overall support for the proposed model. A perceived task-involving climate emerged as a positive predictor of the satisfaction of the three psychological needs, while a perceived ego-involving climate was a negative predictor of related-ness satisfaction. The results also support positive paths between satisfaction of the three psychological needs and intrinsic motivation, while intrinsic motivation was positively linked to subjective vitality and future intention to participate. The implications of the coach-created motivational climate are discussed in the light of its implications for the quality and potential maintenance of sport involvement among young athletes.
Craig Lodis, Sandra T. Sigmon, Amber Martinson, Julia Craner, Morgan McGillicuddy, and Bruce Hale
This study investigated seasonality in male and female college athletes and nonathletes. Given the literature on activity level and its positive impact on mood, it was predicted that athletes would benefit more than nonathletes with regards to seasonal symptoms. Participants completed measures of seasonality, depression, and cognitive processes during a winter month. Multiple measures of seasonality were administered to distinguish seasonal depression symptoms from nonseasonal symptoms. Results indicated that nonathletes reported more seasonal symptoms, seasonal attitudes, and rumination, gained more weight, socialized the least, and slept more than athletes. Female nonathletes reported the most impact from the changing seasons and more negative thoughts about the changing seasons. These results indicate that engaging in collegiate athletics may serve as a protective factor in seasonal depression.
Paul R. Appleton and Andrew P. Hill
This study investigated whether motivation regulations mediate the relationship between socially prescribed and self-oriented dimensions of perfectionism and athlete burnout. Two-hundred and thirty-one (N = 231) elite junior athletes completed the Child and Adolescent Perfectionism Scale (Flett, Hewitt, Boucher, Davidson, & Munro, 2000), the Sport Motivation Scale (Pelletier, Fortier, Valle-rand, Tuson, & Blais, 1995), and the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2009). Multiple mediator regression analyses revealed that amotivation mediated the relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and burnout symptoms. Amotivation and intrinsic motivation emerged as significant mediators of the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and burnout symptoms. The findings suggest that patterns of motivation regulations are important factors in the perfectionism-athlete burnout relationship.
Yusuke Tabei, David Fletcher, and Kate Goodger
This study investigated the relationship between organizational stressors in sport and athlete burnout and involved a cross-cultural comparison of English and Japanese soccer players. Ninety-eight male players completed the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2001) to determine levels of perceived burnout. Based on data reported in previous research, and the thresholds developed by Hodge, Lonsdale, and Ng (2008), 22 of the players were identified as exhibiting higher levels of perceived burnout. Nine members of this subsample (4 English and 5 Japanese players) were subsequently interviewed to explore the relationship between their experiences of burnout and the organizational stressors they encountered. Results revealed multiple demands linked to the dimensions of athlete burnout and identified specific organizational-related issues that players associated with the incidence of burnout. Cultural differences between English and Japanese players in terms of the prevalence and organizational stressors associated with burnout were also identified, with the main differences being the relationship with senior teammates and the coaching style.
Marla K. Beauchamp, Richard H. Harvey, and Pierre H. Beauchamp
The present article outlines the development and implementation of a multifaceted psychological skills training program for the Canadian National Short Track Speedskating team over a 3-year period leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. A program approach was used emphasizing a seven-phase model in an effort to enhance sport performance (Thomas, 1990) in which psychological skills training was integrated with biofeedback training to optimize self-regulation for performance on demand and under pressure. The biofeedback training protocols were adapted from general guidelines described by Wilson, Peper, and Moss (2006) who built on the work of DeMichelis (2007) and the “Mind Room” program approach for enhancing athletic performance. The goal of the program was to prepare the athletes for their best performance under the pressure of the Olympic Games. While causation cannot be implied due to the lack of a control group, the team demonstrated success on both team and individual levels.
James W.G. Thompson and David Hagedorn
Sports-related concussions are complex injuries with biomechanical and biochemical etiology that present with central and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Current methods for assessing concussions and basing return-to-play decisions rely on symptom resolution, rating scales, and neuropsychological testing, all of which are indirect measures of injury severity and detect functional capabilities but do not directly measure injury location or severity. In addition, these downstream measures are susceptible to false negatives because compensatory mechanism, such as unmasking and redundancies in brain circuitry can return functional capabilities before injury resolution. The multifactorial nature of concussion necessitates rapid, inexpensive, and easily applied multimodal analysis methods that can offer greater sensitivity and specificity. This article discusses how new approaches utilizing electrophysiology (e.g., QEEG, ERP, ECG, HRV), quantified balance measures, and biochemistry are necessary to advance the science of concussion assessment, treatment, recovery projections, and return-to-play decisions. These additional assessment tools offer a more direct window into the severity and location of the injury, real-time measures of brain function, and the ability to measure the multiple body systems negatively affected by concussion.
Henry Davis IV, Sari M. van Anders, Elton T. Ngan, Todd S. Woodward, Jared X. Van Snellenberg, Helen S. Mayberg, and Mario Liotti
In this follow-up study, self-referential videos of success and failure were used for mood provocation to investigate mood, neural, and endocrine activity among 26 internationally competitive athletes using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and salivary hormone measures. The initial sample of 14 athletes who had experienced career-threatening failure was contrasted to 12 athletes with exceptional success. Endocrine data were added to the preliminary report to round
Jocelyn Faubert and Lee Sidebottom
This present article discusses an approach to training high-level athletes’ perceptual-cognitive skills. The intention herein is to (a) introduce concepts in regard to what may be required by athletes to optimally process sports-related visual scenes at the perceptual-cognitive level; (b) present an experimental method of how it may be possible to train this capacity in athletes while discussing the necessary features for a successful perceptual-cognitive training outcome; and (c) propose that this capacity may be trainable even among the highest-level athletes. An important suggestion is that a simple difference between sitting and standing testing conditions may strongly influence speed thresholds with this task, which is analogous to game movement dynamics in sports, indicating shared resources between such high-level perceptual-cognitive demands and mechanisms involved in posture control. A discussion follows emphasizing how a perceptual-cognitive training approach may be useful as an integral component of athletic training. The article concludes with possible future directions.
While clinical psychology has embraced the importance of psychophysiology and neuroscience when considering the client condition, the field of sport psychology has been slower to consider the potential importance of this area for athletic clientele. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed to describe the current state of psychophysiological and neuroscience research and illustrate how clinical sport psychologists may, in the future, use technologies such as biofeedback/neurofeedback and physiological measurement (EMG, EEG, skin temperature, EDR, HR, HRV, respiration, and hormonal responses) with high-level athletes from a variety of sports for both performance enhancement and diagnosis and management of head injury. As Guest Editor of this unique special issue, I have written the present introduction to highlight the issue’s important mission. This introductory paper sets the stage for five informative and cutting-edge articles by leading professionals. In all, the articles cover an array of topics on psychophysiology and neuroscience in sport, such as (a) the theoretical underpinnings of biofeedback/neurofeedback, (b) the empirical application of such approaches, (c) the current state of efficacy with regard to this newer line of research and practice, and (d) the use of fMRI in understanding psychological processes in sport. I hope that this timely special issue provokes many additional questions and advanced research in our collective pursuit to assist athletes.