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Áine MacNamara and Dave Collins

The importance of psychological characteristics as positive precursors of talent development is acknowledged in literature. Unfortunately, there has been little consideration of the “darker” side of the human psyche. It may be that an inappropriate emphasis on positive characteristics may limit progress. Negative characteristics may also imply derailment or the potential for problems. A comprehensive evaluation of developing performers should cater for positive dual effect and negative characteristics so that these may be exploited and moderated appropriately. An integrated and dynamic system, with a holistic integration of clinical and sport psychology, is offered as an essential element of development systems.

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Leslie Podlog, Sophie M. Banham, Ross Wadey, and James C. Hannon

The purpose of this study was to examine athlete experiences and understandings of psychological readiness to return to sport following a serious injury. A focus group and follow-up semistructured interviews were conducted with seven English athletes representing a variety of sports. Three key attributes of readiness were identified including: (a) confidence in returning to sport; (b) realistic expectations of one’s sporting capabilities; and (c) motivation to regain previous performance standards. Numerous precursors such as trust in rehabilitation providers, accepting postinjury limitations, and feeling wanted by significant others were articulated. Results indicate that psychological readiness is a dynamic, psychosocial process comprised of three dimensions that increase athletes’ perceived likelihood of a successful return to sport following injury. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research and practical implications are offered.

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Matthew Sitch and Melissa Day

Making weight refers to the process of reducing body weight to compete in weight-categorized sports. The current study explored judo athletes’ psychological experiences of making weight. Six international standard judo athletes participated for the length of time they required to make weight. An unstructured diary was used to collect data daily, supported by a follow-up interview. Data were analyzed using a holistic content analysis. Emergent themes included initiating the making weight process, competing demands of dual roles, temptation, impacts of restricted nutrition, and the desire for social support. Athlete stories provided rich descriptions of their experiences, revealing the extent to which difficulties were concealed and the process of making weight was normalized. Their accounts highlight the challenges associated with social support but the value of emotional disclosure. Future research should explore the potential uses of diaries as a form of disclosure.

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Trevor J. Egli, Leslee A. Fisher, and Noah Gentner

In this paper, the experiences of nine AASP-certified sport psychology consultants (SPCs) working with athletes who invoke spirituality in their consulting sessions are described. After a brief review of terms and literature, consultants’ own words from interview transcripts are used to illustrate four major themes. These were: (a) SPC definitions of spirituality; (b) SPC definitions of faith: (c) SPC perceived challenges; and (d) spirituality implementation within consulting session. We conclude by addressing why we believe that spirituality is a cultural competence component and why sport psychology consultants should engage with the ongoing development of cultural competency.

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Mark W. Bruner, Jeremie M. Carreau, Kathleen S. Wilson, and Michael Penney

The purpose of this study was to investigate youth athletes’ perceptions of group norms for competition, practice, and social setting contexts in relation to personal and social factors. A secondary purpose of this study was to examine the interactions of the personal and situation factors on perceptions of group norms. Participants included 424 athletes from 35 high school sport teams who completed a survey assessing team norms in competition, practice, and social settings. Multilevel analysis results revealed differences in group norms by gender as well as gender by team tenure and gender by sport type interactions. Female teams held higher perceptions of norms for competition, practice, and social settings than male teams. Interactions between gender and team tenure and gender and sport type revealed significant differences in practice norms. No differences were found in norms by group size. The findings suggest that examining the characteristics of the team members (i.e., gender, team tenure) and team (i.e., type of sport) may enhance our understanding of group norms in a youth sport setting.

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Katrien Fransen, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Bert De Cuyper, Pete Coffee, Matthew J. Slater, and Filip Boen

Research on the effect of athlete leadership on precursors of team performance such as team confidence is sparse. To explore the underlying mechanisms of how athlete leaders impact their team’s confidence, an online survey was completed by 2,867 players and coaches from nine different team sports in Flanders (Belgium). We distinguished between two types of team confidence: collective efficacy, assessed by the CEQS subscales of effort, persistence, preparation, and unity; and team outcome confidence, measured by the ability subscale. The results demonstrated that the perceived quality of athlete leaders was positively related to participants’ team outcome confidence. The present findings are the first in sport settings to highlight the potential value of collective efficacy and team identification as underlying processes. Because high-quality leaders strengthen team members’ identification with the team, the current study also provides initial evidence for the applicability of the identity based leadership approach in sport settings.

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Ian J. Connole, Jack C. Watson II, Vanessa R. Shannon, Craig Wrisberg, Edward Etzel, and Christine Schimmel

This study used a consumer marketing approach to investigate the market for sport psychology positions in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) institutions. Athletic administrators’ (AA) preferences for various sport psychology positions were compared based on time commitment, affiliation, payment, services, and clients. Results indicated that AAs were most attracted to positions that included (a) part-time commitment, (b) athletic department employment, (c) payment via annual salary, (d) both performance and mental health related services, and (d) work with athletes, teams, and athletics staff members. Over two thirds of the 478 AAs sampled were interested in hiring a sport psychology professional to fill that position. It was concluded that the field of sport psychology collaborate across disciplines and emphasize multiple options for meeting the perceived needs of NCAA athletic departments.

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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.