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Leonard Zaichkowsky

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.

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Lindsay Shaw, Leonard Zaichkowsky, and Vietta Wilson

The present paper evaluated the efficacy of a biofeedback/neurofeedback training program to create an optimal preperformance state to improve gymnasts’ balance beam performance in competition. Training to increase heart rate variability (HRV) and sensorimotor rhythm while inhibiting theta was provided to 11 Division I gymnasts in 10 15-min sessions. Results of this uncontrolled study indicated that competition scores and scores from an independently judged video assessment improved throughout the training, beta decreased from preto postassessment, and there were no changes in HRV, sensorimotor rhythm, or theta. The withdrawal of training resulted in a decline of competition scores.

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Frank L. Gardner

Consistent with the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology’s mission, the current special issue on psychophysiology and neuroscience in sport has brought together a variety of timely papers exploring the relationship between physiological processes and both sport performance and personal well-being. These final thoughts observe patterns noted among the papers in this issue, highlight future research directions, and most importantly, clarify where this emerging technology and its associated procedures currently stand in the evidence-based practice of clinical sport psychology.

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Robert Schinke and Zella E. Moore

Sport psychologists work with athletes from a vast array of cultural backgrounds. Numerous factors comprise the cultural composition of both the client and the practitioner, including, though not necessarily limited to, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and status, race, socialization, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and geographic location. These intersecting and often deeply ingrained personal variables can certainly impact the nature of the therapeutic relationship, intervention strategies, and intervention outcomes with athletic clientele. Yet, while other domains of professional psychology have long embraced the integration of cultural aspects, the field of sport psychology has been slow to join the dialogue or to learn from these relevant sources. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed with the intention of opening these lines of discussion to help ensure that sport psychologists are gaining a comprehensive understanding of the athletes with whom they work, demonstrating respect for and integration of cultural constructs in the treatment room, and maintaining personal and professional self-awareness. As Co-Editors of this unique special issue, Drs. Robert Schinke and Zella Moore provide the present paper to begin this important dialogue. This paper sets the stage for six informative articles by leading professionals in their areas, including both theoretical articles and articles highlighting culturally informed direct service provision with athletes from around the world. We hope that this timely special issue leads to numerous additional questions, cutting-edge research ideas, and most importantly, an enhanced or renewed commitment from sport psychologists to integrate the concepts found within these pages, and those already found within the professional literature of mainstream psychology, into their daily work with athletes.

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Philomena B. Ikulayo and Johnson A. Semidara

This article discusses unorthodox sport psychology practices typical with Nigerian athletes, which differ from Western mainstream practice models. These practices are specific Nigerian cultural approaches to sport psychology and are based on two broad types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic aspects include prayers, chanting of songs, verbalization of incantations, psyching verses, and juju and spirits in motivational processes. The extrinsic strategies include praise singing, audience verbalization, drumming effects, persistent silent audiences’ effects, and presence of important persons as spectators or part of the audience. The article concludes with the hope that some of these unique practice strategies will be further researched and will be viable for adoption by athletes in other nations of the world who believe in their power so that multicultural practices can help advance the field of sport psychology.

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Gangyan Si, Yanping Duan, Hin Yue Li, and Xiaobo Jiang

This article, via discussing various psychological manifestations among Chinese elite athletes, illustrates sociocultural “meridians” in Chinese elite sports including (a) “Whole-Nation system,” (b) Chinese culture, and (c) their interaction. We propose that the sociocultural characteristics be integrated in athletes’ psychological training and further discuss the aspects of (a) cultural inheritance and (b) traditional beliefs, including “harmony with differences,” “doing the best and following the fate,” “Ah Q spirit,” “all are Buddha,” and the balance between Confucianism and Taoism. We suggest that the ultimate goal of sport psychologists is to facilitate the athlete’s overall development, with such a maturing process only achieved by integrating the above factors into athletes’ sociocultural contexts.