This study examined how psychologists working in men’s English football academies evaluate their working context when choosing a professional practice framework for guiding applied psychology provisions. Sixteen psychologists—six women and 10 men—participated in two semistructured interviews. A stepwise inductive–deductive approach in the analysis was used. The authors found that 13 of the psychologists adopted humanistic psychology as their guiding framework. In exploring the reasoning, three categories were developed: (a) motives for choosing a humanistic approach, (b) challenges when applying a humanistic approach, and (c) perpetuating stigma and restrictive assumptions regarding sport psychology. The study shows that humanistic psychology might be an effective approach to countering some dehumanizing features in the current English academy context (e.g., an overreliance on metrics). However, the Premier League, the Football Association, and other governing football organizations should notice the drawbacks of how psychologists sometimes must collude with the current system to establish psychology in the academy before later expanding provisions.
How Psychologists in Men’s English Football Academies Evaluate Their Working Context and Adopt an Appropriate Professional Practice Framework
Niels Boysen Feddersen, Francesca Champ, Stig Arve Sæther, and Martin Littlewood
Volume 37 (2023): Issue 2 (Jun 2023)
Exploring the Athletic Identity, Anxiety, and Mental Health of Division II Collegiate Athletes in the COVID-19 Era
Justin A. Hebert and Aubrey Newland
The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications on the health and well-being of student-athletes. The present study explored the athletic experiences of NCAA Division II college athletes during the competitive hiatus caused by the pandemic, as well as in their return to sport participation. Twenty male and female student-athletes from a variety of sports (freshman = 2, sophomores = 4, seniors = 9, and graduate = 5) participated in semistructured interviews to explore how the pandemic affected their athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health. Through the use of thematic content analysis, the following major themes were identified: (a) influence of COVID on athletic identity, (b) increased anxiety during COVID, (c) social aspects of sport participation, and (d) factors that influence mental health. Findings indicated a combination of positive and negative effects on the athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health and well-being of student-athletes.
Mental Health Literacy Intervention to Reduce Stigma Toward Mental Health Symptoms and Disorders in Women Rugby Players: A Feasibility Study
Shakiba Oftadeh-Moghadam, Neil Weston, and Paul Gorczynski
This feasibility study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention on stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions among U.K. semielite women rugby players. Seven semielite women rugby players participated. An A-B-A single-case experimental research design was used to assess stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions at baseline, intervention, and follow-up phases. The intervention was successful in enhancing the players’ mental health literacy and reducing stigmatizing attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Acknowledging the study’s small sample size, the findings revealed that there is a need for scaffolding to support future developments, advancements, and maintenance of mental health support in women’s rugby. Practical implications of future findings from a larger-scale study may lead to policy reformation across the game to inform and improve systemic mental health support for women rugby players.
A Novel Exploration of Occupational Recovery in Certified Mental Performance Consultants
Anthony Magdaleno and Barbara B. Meyer
Researchers have provided evidence that workplace demands impair professionals’ health and performance, while occupational recovery facilitates them. Sport psychology professionals experience workplace demands (e.g., organizational stressors) and must manage their health and performance to consistently deliver competent, ethical, and effective services. Therefore, the purpose of this novel study was to explore the prevalence of, and relationship between, perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery (i.e., recovery experiences, off-job activities) in certified mental performance consultants (CMPCs). A sample of 140 CMPCs completed measures of perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery. Results indicated that psychological aspects of occupational recovery significantly predicted perceived stress. Practical implications to reduce CMPCs’ perceived stress include the promotion of occupational recovery through prioritization of activities positively related to recovery experiences.
Understanding the Leadership and Environmental Mechanisms in a Super League Netball Club
Don Vinson, Anita Navin, Alison Lamont, Jennifer Turnnidge, and Jean Côté
The personal assets framework offers a lens to better understand the relationship between leadership in sport environments and the resultant (athlete) developmental outcomes. This investigation aimed to explore how leadership behaviors and the broader environment of a Super League netball club represented an effective context for athletes to flourish by exploring the interrelations between the personal assets framework’s dynamic elements, namely (a) quality social dynamics, (b) appropriate settings, and (c) personal engagement in activities. Twenty-eight stakeholders were interviewed either individually or in small groups. The results revealed that the environment constructed was shaped by many interrelated mechanisms, and all stakeholders influenced how the dynamic elements intersected with one another. Key leadership behaviors driving the positive environment of the club were related to individualization and generating perceptions of value. The stakeholders’ desire to understand the relationship between their individual contribution and Super League netball was also crucial.
Self-Expectations, Socially Prescribed Expectations, and Wellness in 14- to 15-Year-Old Athletes, Ballet, and Music Students in Norwegian Talent Schools—An Interview Study
Annett Victoria Stornæs, Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen, Gunn Pettersen, Jan H. Rosenvinge, and Sanna M. Nordin-Bates
Talent-school settings may generate stress via demanding expectations. To investigate students representing Norway’s growing phenomenon of early adolescent talent schools, we interviewed twenty-seven 14- to15-year-old boys and girls about their experiences with self- and socially imposed expectations. Students were recruited from two sports schools (n = 14) and one school each with talent classes for ballet (n = 7) and music (n = 6). Using reflexive thematic analysis, we found four main themes representing the performers’ accounts of (a) self-oriented expectations of persistent hard work, evoking self-doubts, and never-give-up attitudes; (b) coaches’/teachers’ socially prescribed expectations, stimulating hard work, and pursuit of approval and opportunities; (c) parental expectations, reflected as helpful support, concerns of letting parents down, and negotiating independence; and (d) struggles with balancing expectations, reflected by demanding workloads, difficulties with prioritizing recovery, and ill-being. Early interventions targeting unhealthy self- and socially imposed expectations in high-expectation settings may be required to safeguard youth performers’ healthy development.
Volume 37 (2023): Issue 1 (Mar 2023)
Let’s Hear It From the Kids! Examining the Experiences, Views, and Needs of Highly Committed Children Involved in Youth Sport
Jennifer J. Harris, Dave Collins, and Christine Nash
Sport specialization and intensive training programs are becoming increasingly popular, but there is an ongoing debate as to their value. This study explored how children experience arduous, specialized training and whether they find it enjoyable and meaningful. We also examined their perspective of what parental involvement they needed. One hundred three participants filled out an online questionnaire. Results demonstrated that the participants were almost without exception highly committed to their training. They acknowledged the documented downsides, such as long hours, pain, and repetition, but expressed resounding commitment, giving little indication that they looked for change. They admitted that they preferred their parents not to be involved with their coaching and disclosed that showing pride for them was their main wish. This study demonstrates that passion can engender powerful commitment and satisfaction from training that may be sometimes considered by others as too challenging for a young person to undertake.