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.
John W. Mahoney, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Clifford J. Mallett, and Nikos Ntoumanis
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kacey C. Neely and Nicholas L. Holt
The overall purpose of this study was to examine parents’ perspectives on the benefits of sport participation for their young children. Specifically, this study addressed two research questions: (1) What benefits do parents perceive their children gain through participation in organized youth sport programs? (2) How do parents think their children acquire these benefits? Twenty-two parents (12 mothers, 10 fathers) of children aged 5-8 years participated in individual semistructured interviews. Data were subjected to qualitative analysis techniques based on the interpretive description methodology. Parents reported their children gained a range of personal, social, and physical benefits from participating in sport because it allowed them to explore their abilities and build positive self-perceptions. Parents indicated they believed children acquired benefits when coaches created a mastery-oriented motivational climate that facilitated exploration. Crucially, parents appeared to play the most important role in their children’s acquisition of benefits by seizing “teachable moments” from sport and reinforcing certain principles in the home environment.
Pete Lindsay and Owen Thomas
The mass media focus on sporting events (Kristiansen, Hanstad, & Roberts, 2011), coupled with the interest in reporting the psychological aspects of sporting performance (Jones, 2005) can place practitioners in stressful situations (Fletcher, Rumbold, Tester, & Coombes, 2011). Concerns over “misrepresentation,” “misquotation,” “misinterpretation,” and being “incorrectly reported or understood” by the media can be at odds with a practitioner’s honest desire to disseminate findings and provide informed commentaries related to the discipline. This article aims to highlight the ethical, professional and personal challenges faced by Pete Lindsay while working as the resident sport psychologist for an international television broadcaster during a World championship sporting event. The autoethnographic account provides a series of reflective fragments that were abstracted from professional development documentation, supervisory meeting records of the time, and the authors recalled reflections of when Pete undertook the role. Practical implications for the training and certification of practitioners in relation to working within the media are considered.
Carolina Lundqvist and Fredrik Sandin
This study examined subjective (SWB), psychological (PWB) and social well-being (Social WB) at a global and sport contextual level among ten elite orienteers (6 women and 4 men, median age = 20.4, range 18–30) by employing semistructured interviews. Athletes described SWB as an interplay of satisfaction with life, sport experiences and perceived health combined with experienced enjoyment and happiness in both ordinary life and sport. SWB and PWB interacted, and important psychological functioning among the elite athletes included, among other things, abilities to adopt value-driven behaviors, be part of functional relationships, and to self-regulate one’s autonomy. The ability to organize and combine ordinary life with elite sport, and the use of strategies to protect the self during setbacks was also emphasized. For a comprehensive theoretical understanding of well-being applicable to elite athletes, the need for a holistic view considering both global and sport-specific aspects of WB is discussed.