The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the attentional focus experienced by elite soccer players in different soccer positions and performance tasks of both closed and open skills. No previous studies have explored elite soccer players’ attentional skills from a naturalistic and qualitative perspective in such detail. Data collection consisted of individual semistructured interviews with eight highly elite Brazilian soccer players from five main soccer positions, namely goalkeeper, defender, wing, midfielder, and forward. Important themes were positive thinking, performing on autopilot, and relying on peripheral vision. For example, thematic analysis indicated that in tasks where there may be an advantage in disguising one’s intentions (e.g., penalty kick), relying on peripheral vision was essential. Early mistakes were among the main sources of distractions; thus, players reported beginning with easy plays as a strategy to prevent distractions. Implications for applied sport psychology were drawn and future studies recommended.
Brazilian Elite Soccer Players: Exploring Attentional Focus in Performance Tasks and Soccer Positions
Rafael A.B. Tedesqui and Terry Orlick
Cliques in Sport: Perceptions of Intercollegiate Athletes
Luc J. Martin, Jessi Wilson, M. Blair Evans, and Kevin S. Spink
Although cliques are often referenced in sporting circles, they have received little attention in the group dynamics literature. This is surprising given their potential influence on group-related processes that could ultimately influence team functioning (e.g., Carron & Eys, 2012). The present study examined competitive athletes’ perceptions of cliques using semistructured interviews with 18 (nine female, nine male) intercollegiate athletes (Mage = 20.9, SD = 1.6) from nine sport teams. Athletes described the formation of cliques as an inevitable and variable process that was influenced by a number of antecedents (e.g., age/tenure, proximity, similarity) and ultimately shaped individual and group outcomes such as isolation, performance, and sport adherence. Further, athletes described positive consequences that emerged when existing cliques exhibited more inclusive behaviors and advanced some areas of focus for the management of cliques within sport teams. Results are discussed from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
Developmental Experiences and Well-Being in Sport: The Importance of the Coaching Climate
Lorcan D. Cronin and Justine B. Allen
The present study explored the relationships between the coaching climate, youth developmental experiences (personal and social skills, cognitive skills, goal setting, and initiative) and psychological well-being (self-esteem, positive affect, and satisfaction with life). In total, 202 youth sport participants (Mage = 13.4, SD = 1.8) completed a survey assessing the main study variables. Findings were consistent with Benson and Saito’s (2001) framework for youth development. In all analyses, the coaching climate was related to personal and social skills, cognitive skills, goal setting, and initiative. Mediational analysis also revealed that the development of personal and social skills mediated the relationships between the coaching climate and all three indices of psychological well-being (self-esteem, positive affect, and satisfaction with life). Interpretation of the results suggests that coaches should display autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors because they are related to the developmental experiences and psychological well-being of youth sport participants.
Moderated and Mediated Effects of Coach Autonomy Support, Coach Involvement, and Psychological Need Satisfaction on Motivation in Youth Soccer
Amanda J. Reynolds and Meghan H. McDonough
We examined whether coach involvement moderated the predictive effect of coach autonomy support on motivation both directly and indirectly via need satisfaction. 142 soccer players (106 female; 12-15 years) completed measures of coach autonomy support and involvement, need satisfaction, and motivation. For intrinsic motivation and identified regulation, need satisfaction mediated the effect of autonomy support, but there was also a moderated direct effect whereby autonomy support had a positive effect only when involvement was moderate to high. Autonomy support also positively predicted external regulation and negatively predicted amotivation via need satisfaction. Coach-athlete relationships that are both autonomy supportive and involved are associated with more adaptive forms of motivation, and findings suggest that lack of autonomy support may undermine need satisfaction and motivation.
Motivational Factors in Young Spanish Athletes: A Qualitative Focus Drawing From Self-Determination Theory and Achievement Goal Perspectives
Bartolomé J. Almagro, Pedro Sáenz-López, Juan A. Moreno-Murcia, and Chris Spray
This study qualitatively examined how athletes perceive their coach’s support for autonomy, as well as athletes’ motivation, satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and the 2 × 2 achievement goal framework of young Spanish athletes. Fifteen Spanish athletes (six females and nine males) between 13 and 16 years of age were interviewed from various sporting contexts. Content analysis of the interviews revealed: the coexistence of various types of motivation for the practice of these sports by the athletes that were interviewed; the presence of integrated regulation among some of these young athletes; the importance of autonomy support and the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for motivation and athletic commitment. The results are discussed on the basis of self-determination and achievement goal theory. Strategies are proposed for improving motivation and adherence to athletic practice in young athletes.
Parenting in Youth Sport: From Research to Practice
Profiling, Exploiting, and Countering Psychological Characteristics in Talent Identification and Development
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.
Psychological Readiness to Return to Competitive Sport Following Injury: A Qualitative Study
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.
Using a Daily Diary Approach to Understand the Psychological Experiences of Making Weight
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.