Ultramarathon (UM) running is a rapidly growing sport throughout the world, yet to date it has received little attention in sport psychology literature. To obtain further insight into this sport, the current study examined the training and competition experiences of UM runners. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 26 participants ranging in age from 32 to 67 years (M = 44.1 yrs, SD = 8.1). Qualitative analysis of the interview data identified meaning units, which were grouped into major themes. A final thematic structure revealed five major themes that characterized the participant’s experience of UM running: preparation and strategy, management, discovery, personal achievement, and community. Taken together, the present results extend previous research on UM running and provide a number of suggestions for sport psychology consultants working with UM runners.
Duncan Simpson, Phillip G. Post, Greg Young, and Peter R. Jensen
Lenny D. Wiersma
Extreme sport athletes perform in environments that are characterized by danger, unpredictability, and fear, and the consequences of a mistake include severe injury or death. Maverick’s is a big-wave surfing location in northern California that is known for its cold water temperatures, dangerous ocean wildlife, deep reef, and other navigational hazards. The purpose of this study was to use a phenomenological framework to understand the psychology of big-wave surfing at Maverick’s. Seven elite big-wave surfers completed in-depth phenomenological interviews and discussed the psychology related to various stages of big-wave surfing, including presurf, in the lineup, catching the wave, riding the wave, wiping out, and postsurf. Big-wave surfers described a variety of experiences associated with surfing at Maverick’s and discussed several ways that they coped with its challenges. The results provide a greater understanding of the psychology of participating in an extreme environment.
Stephen Pack, Brian Hemmings, and Monna Arvinen-Barrow
The maturation processes of applied sport psychologists have received little research attention despite trainees and practitioners having often reported experiencing challenging circumstances when working with clients. Within clinical psychology literature the self-practice of cognitive techniques, alongside self-reflection, has been advocated as a means of addressing such circumstances, and as a significant source of experiential learning. The present study sought to identify the possible types of, and purposes for, self-practice among twelve UK-based sport psychology practitioners. Thematic analysis of semistructured interviews indicated all participants engaged in self-practice for reasons such as managing the self, enhancing understanding of intervention, and legitimising intervention. Some participants also described limitations to self-practice. Subsequently, three overriding themes emerged from analysis: a) the professional practice swamp, b) approaches to, and purposes for, self-practice, and, c) limitations of self-practice. It is concluded that self-practice may provide a means of better understanding self-as-person and self-as-practitioner, and the interplay between both, and is recommended as part of on-going practitioner maturation.
Eric M. Martin, Martha E. Ewing, and Daniel Gould
Significant social agents are thought to play a vital role in youth development (Brustad, Babkes, & Smith, 2001). The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) commissioned a nationwide survey to examine the effect significant social agents had on youth sport behavior. In Phase I, initial data were collected and results were published in the Journal of Coaching Education (2011). The results of the previous analyses were largely descriptive, and further analyses were desired. Therefore, the current study (Phase II) is a secondary but more in-depth data analysis of the initial data collected by the USADA. Phase II analyses (n = 3379, Mage = 12.23, SD = 2.78) revealed that youth sport coaches have the greatest positive influence on youth followed closely by parents, but all of the significant social agents, to different extents, were seen as more positive than negative by youth. Results varied by developmental level, gender, and competitive level. Results, limitations, and practical implications are discussed.
There is evidence that an individual with a higher level of self-efficacy will persist longer and be more robust in their efforts than an individual with a lower level of self-efficacy (Feltz et al., 2008). As such, it follows that a high level of self-efficacy would be essential in a strenuous activity such as distance running. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the evolution of efficacy beliefs over the course of a training program by following 26 participants training for a marathon. Participants completed individual interviews at three different time points throughout the training and that were analyzed for content relevant to the formation of efficacy beliefs for the marathon. Overall, the findings indicated that physiological/emotional states were the most frequently mentioned source of information throughout the duration of the experience. Further, the influence of past performance experiences gradually increased throughout the duration of the program.
Andrew Mills, Joanne Butt, Ian Maynard, and Chris Harwood
This study examined the factors perceived by successful coaches to underpin optimal development environments within elite English soccer academies. A semistructured interview guide was developed to interview 10 expert coaches about the environments they create for players at a key stage in their development. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and inductively content analyzed. The results identified a wide range of factors resulting in a conceptual framework that explained how these factors interact to underpin an optimal environment. Subcomponents of this framework included organizational core (e.g., advocate a player-driven ideology), adaptability (e.g., embrace novel ideas & approaches), player welfare (e.g., understand players’ world-view), key stakeholder relationships (e.g., build trust with parents), involvement (e.g., encourage players’ ideas/feedback), and achievement oriented (e.g., establish an explicit pathway to senior level). Collectively, the findings highlight the importance of establishing strong, dynamic, organizational cultures at elite youth soccer academies. Ways that academies might be helped to establish such environments are discussed.
Ken Hodge, Graham Henry, and Wayne Smith
This case study focused on the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team during the period from 2004 to 2011, when Graham Henry (head coach) and Wayne Smith (assistant coach) coached and managed the team. More specifically, this case study examined the motivational climate created by this coaching group that culminated in winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011. In-depth interviews were completed with Henry and Smith in March 2012. A collaborative thematic content analysis revealed eight themes, regarding motivational issues and the motivational climate for the 2004–2011 All Blacks team: (i) critical turning point, (ii) flexible and evolving, (iii) dual-management model, (iv) “Better People Make Better All Blacks,” (v) responsibility, (vi) leadership, (vii) expectation of excellence, and (viii) team cohesion. These findings are discussed in light of autonomy-supportive coaching, emotionally intelligent coaching, and transformational leadership. Finally, practical recommendations are offered for coaches of elite sports teams.
Nicholas L. Holt, Homan Lee, Youngoh Kim, and Kyra Klein
The overall purpose of this study was to examine individuals’ experiences of running an ultramarathon. Following pilot work data were collected with six people who entered the 2012 Canadian Death Race. Participants were interviewed before the race, took photographs and made video recordings during the race, wrote a summary of their experience, and attended a focus group after the race. The research team also interviewed participants during the race. Before the race participants had mixed emotions. During the race they experienced numerous stressors (i.e., cramping and injuries, gastrointestinal problems, and thoughts about quitting). They used coping strategies such as making small goals, engaging in a mental/physical battle, monitoring pace, nutrition, and hydration, and social support. After the race, nonfinishers experienced dejection or acceptance whereas finishers commented on the race as a major life experience. These findings provide some insights into factors involved in attempting to complete ultramarathons and offer some implications for applied sport psychology.
Christiane Trottier and Sophie Robitaille
The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of coaches’ perceptions of their role in the development of life skills in adolescent athletes in two different sport contexts. Semistructured interviews were held with 24 coaches: 12 coaching high school basketball and 12 coaching community swimming. All coaches followed a holistic, athlete-centered approach. Coaches described the life skills they taught, their motivations, and the strategies they used to foster life skills development in practice. Although some differences between the two contexts were identified, the overall results indicate that all coaches fostered the development of life skills through various teaching and transfer strategies, and that coaches had two main motivations: athletes’ needs and their own values. The main results are discussed in light of the literature on life skills in sport and positive youth development, and in terms of methodological considerations. The study concludes with some practical recommendations for coaches.