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Ken Hodge and Wayne Smith

This case study focused on pressure, stereotype threat, choking, and the coping experiences of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team during the period from 2004-2011 leading into their success at the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). Employing a narrative approach this case study examined public expectation, pressure, and coach-led coping strategies designed to “avoid the choke” by the All Blacks team. An in-depth interview was completed with one of the All Blacks’ coaches and analyzed via collaborative thematic analysis (Riessman, 2008). In addition multiple secondary data sources (e.g., coach & player autobiographies; media interviews) were analyzed via holistic-content analysis (Lieblich et al., 1998). Collectively these analyses revealed five key themes: public expectation and pressure, learning from 2007 RWC, coping with RWC pressure, decision-making under pressure, and avoiding the choke. Practical recommendations are offered for team sport coaches with respect to coping with pressure and avoiding choking.

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Jessyca N. Arthur-Cameselle and Paula A. Quatromoni

The purpose of this study was to characterize recovery experiences of female collegiate athletes who have suffered from eating disorders. Participants were 16 collegiate female athletes who experienced recovery from an eating disorder. Participants told their recovery stories in semistructured interviews regarding factors that initiated, assisted, and hindered recovery. The most common turning point to initiate recovery was experiencing negative consequences from the eating disorder. Factors that most frequently assisted recovery included making cognitive and behavioral changes, supportive relationships, and seeking professional care. Hindering factors most commonly included lack of support from others, professional care complaints, and spending time with others with eating disorders. Results suggested that unique features of the sport environment, including coaches’ behavior and team norms, introduce either positive or negative influences on athletes as they work to recover from an eating disorder. Based on these findings, specific treatment and prevention recommendations for athletes are discussed.

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Judy L. Van Raalte, Allen E. Cornelius, Maureen K. Copeskey, and Britton W. Brewer

Research exploring spontaneously generated self-talk has involved recording performers’ self-talk categorized by researchers. The actor-observer bias, suggests that actors (performers) and observers (researchers) may perceive the same situation (e.g., self-talk) differently. The purpose of this study was to explore the actor-observer bias and validity of self-talk categorization. College students’ (n = 30) spontaneous self-talk was audio recorded during a dart throwing task. Participants then listened to and categorized their self-talk. Three independent researchers reviewed written transcripts and categorized the self-talk. Another three researchers who had not read the transcripts listened to audio recordings and categorized the same self-talk. Results confirmed actor-observer bias predictions. Spontaneous self-talk ratings made by participants were similar to but distinct from those made by researchers reading transcripts or listening to self-talk audio recordings. These results suggest that participant categorization of spontaneous self-talk may be a valid strategy to enhance understanding of self-talk used in competitive settings.

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Domagoj Lausic, Selen Razon, and Gershon Tenenbaum

The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in verbal communication between doubles tennis teams during close game situations. Verbal messages exchanged between team players were recorded by means of audiotapes and videotapes. Recorded communication data were coded and analyzed using the Discussion Analysis Tool software (DAT; Jeong, 2003). Results indicated that most of the verbal communication included action (i.e., 34%) and emotional statements (i.e., 34%). Winning teams communicated twice as many messages than losing teams. Specifically, during the close games they won, winning teams communicated significantly more than losing teams. Losing teams used more communication patterns in close games they won relative to the ones they lost. Winning and losing teams also used distinct communication patterns during the close games they won relative to the ones they lost. These distinct communication patterns may have in turn improved the winning teams’ coordination and thereby increased their likelihood of winning.

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John W. Mahoney, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Clifford J. Mallett, and Nikos Ntoumanis

In light of the extant literature, the aim of the current study was to compare adolescents’ perspectives on mental toughness and its development across performance contexts, and to explore if such perspectives align with Bronfenbrenner’s (2001) bioecological model. Eighteen mentally tough adolescents (9 boys, 9 girls, Mage = 15.6 years) from three performance contexts (i.e., sport, academia, and music) participated in focus groups, 7 of whom also participated in follow-up one-to-one interviews. Inductive analyses revealed that mental toughness was conceptualized by 9 personal characteristics, and that while similar across performance contexts, some difference between previous mental toughness conceptualization and the current study existed. Analyses also revealed that mental toughness development was predicated on significant others, supportive social processes, critical incidents, and curiosity. These findings resonated with the properties of the bioecological model. Future research into how bioecological factors combine to facilitate mental toughness development during critical stages of life was suggested.

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John H. Kerr and Susan Houge Mackenzie

The main objective was to further unravel the experience of motivation in an expert male skydiver by investigating: (1) his general experience of motivation and perception of the dangers of skydiving; (2) his pursuit of new challenges and learning new skills as factors in maintaining motivation; (3) evidence of a mastery-based confidence frame in his motivational experience. This was a unique case study informed by reversal theory. The participant’s perception of skydiving was that it was not a risky or dangerous activity and a primary motive for his involvement in skydiving was personal goal achievement. Maintaining control and mastery during skydiving was a key motivational element during his long career and pursuing new challenges and learning new skills was found to be important for his continued participation. Data indicated that his confidence frame was based on a telic-mastery state combination, which challenged previous reversal theory research findings and constructs.

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Marjorie Bernier, Emilie Thienot, Emilie Pelosse, and Jean F. Fournier

This article examines the effects and underlying processes of a mindfulness-based intervention through two case studies. A one-season intervention designed according to the mindfulness approach was implemented with young elite figure skaters. Case studies were complemented with different measurement methods: a questionnaire assessing mindfulness skills, percent improvement on competition scores compared with a control group, and interviews with skaters and coaches during the intervention. The two case studies presented demonstrate how the young skaters developed their mindfulness skills and how these skills benefited their performance. They also show the limitations of this intervention type in young populations. Performance improvement and processes underlying the intervention are discussed in light of the results, and new perspectives are provided for adapting them to the particular needs of young athletes.

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Dolores A. Christensen and Mark W. Aoyagi

The literature on the practice of sport and performance psychology (SPP) is lacking in recent contributions from student practitioners despite previous calls for additional contributions (Holt & Strean, 2001; Tonn & Harmison, 2004). A recent graduate from a master’s degree program in SPP was invited to attend USA Swimming 2012 Olympic Team Trials as a member of the support staff for the club swim team she had been consulting with for the duration of her graduate training. The focus of this paper is to expand upon this gap in the literature by providing a first-hand account of a young practitioner’s experiences at a high-performance meet. The neophyte consultant’s use of supervision for personal and professional preparation for Olympic trials, her experiences there, including ethical dilemmas encountered, and the lessons learned from attending such an event so early in her career will be discussed. Future implications are also offered for graduate students and early career professionals in SPP.

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Siobhain McArdle, Phil Moore, and Deirdre Lyons

Career pathways in high performance sport include a number of emotionally resonant transitions. Sport systems must be able to effectively support the athlete’s endeavors to negotiate such challenges. This study investigated qualitatively the experiences of Olympic athletes who took part in a three-tier, post-games career transition support program. The aim of the program was to increase athletes’ coping resources to successful negotiate the post-Olympic period. Ten athletes who participated in the program were recruited to participate in semi structured individual interviews. Directed content analysis was employed to identify key themes in the data. Athletes perceived two components of the program as particularly helpful, the normalization of the emotional and psychological challenge of the post Games period and the use of problem focused coping to redirect athlete focus to the future. The findings from this study provide a preliminary framework for the planning of future post-Games career transition support programs.