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Lee-Ann Sharp, Charlotte Woodcock, Mark J.G. Holland, Jennifer Cumming, and Joan L. Duda

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of a mental skills training (MST) program for male youth elite rugby athletes. Three focus groups were held with 21 under-16 male rugby athletes and four male coaches involved in the MST program to examine the quality of service delivery, athlete responses to the MST program, the mental qualities used by athletes, and its perceived influence on athlete performance. Following inductive-deductive content analysis, 40 subcategories and 16 categories emerged. Participants believed the MST program to be an interactive, well-planned program that increased athlete understanding of MST methods and awareness of MST strategies to manage rugby performance. Athletes thought it important that their coaches develop a greater knowledge and understanding of MST methods. Finally, athletes perceived the MST skills and methods they learnt through the MST program were transferable to other sports and areas of their life outside of rugby (e.g., school).

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Camilla J. Knight and Nicholas L. Holt

The purposes of this study were to identify the strategies parents use to be able to support their children’s involvement in competitive tennis and identify additional assistance parents require to better facilitate their children’s involvement in tennis. Interviews were conducted with 41 parents of junior players in the United States. Data analysis led to the identification of 4 strategies parents used to be able to support to their children: spouses working together, interacting with other parents, selecting an appropriate coach, and researching information. Five areas where parents required additional assistance were also identified. These were understanding and negotiating player progression, education on behaving and encouraging players at tournaments, evaluating and selecting coaches, identifying and accessing financial support, and managing and maintaining schooling. These findings indicated that parents “surrounded themselves with support” to facilitate their children’s involvement in tennis but required additional information regarding specific aspects of tennis parenting.

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Andrew L. Evans, Matthew J. Slater, Martin J. Turner, and Jamie B. Barker

The present study examined the effects of personal-disclosure mutual-sharing (PDMS) on a diverse set of group factors in a previously unexplored context. During a single bout of PDMS, 14 soccer-academy athletes voluntarily disclosed unknown personal stories to fellow teammates. Social identity, friendships identity content, results identity content, and collective efficacy were measured at baseline, post-PDMS, follow-up, and maintenance phases. In addition, team performance over the competitive season was assessed via goal difference and goal discrepancy. Data indicated that a short-term significant increase in friendships identity content and a sustained improvement in team performance occurred after the PDMS session, and social identity, results identity content, and collective efficacy remained elevated across all intervention phases. Data suggest that PDMS fosters immediate increases in aspects of team functioning that may exert a positive influence upon team performance. Future research would benefit from ascertaining the exact mechanisms in which PDMS encourages changes in team outcomes observed within the current study.

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Matthew A. Grant and Paul G. Schempp

Researchers sought to identify and analyze the actions of elite swimmers on a competition day that the athletes believed were critical to their success, and to understand the meaning the athletes assigned to each of these activities. The present study describes the competition-day routines of the elite swimmers by presenting the athletes’ actions, meanings, segments, and preparations within a substantive grounded theory. To this end, five U.S. Olympic medal-winning male swimmers from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games participated in a three-stage data collection: an initial interview during a two-day training visit, a competition observation at an elite meet, and a follow-up interview via telephone. In addition, each participant’s coach was interviewed. Utilizing constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006), a substantive theory of a competition-day routine for elite swimmers emerged. Results suggested that athletes understood all their actions during a competition day as one routine, and research of competitive routines should include both the ostensive (i.e., plan) and performative (i.e., enactment) aspects of routines (Feldman & Pentland, 2003).

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Brandonn S. Harris, Lindsey C. Blom, and Amanda J. Visek

Assessment is an important element to the present and future of sport psychology (McCann et al., 2002), both in science and in practice. Yet, few resources exist addressing the unique developmental parameters facing sport scientists and sport practitioners when it comes to conducting sound assessment across the athletic lifespan. Indeed, this aspect of the literature remains particularly sparse with respect to youth sport assessment (Noble, 2011). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of the practical issues and best practice guidelines pertaining to assessment during the provision of sport psychology services to children and adolescent athletes.

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Martin Camiré, Pierre Trudel, and Dany Bernard

A case study of a high school ice hockey program designed to teach players life skills and values was conducted to understand, from the perspective of administrators, coaches, parents, and players, the strengths and challenges of the program. Results indicated that the program’s strengths lied in its comprehensive approach to teaching life skills and values in addition to coaches’ ability to foster relationship with players. However, program members also faced many challenges related to traveling, a lack of resources, and conflicting goals. Results are discussed using the Petitpas et al. (2005) framework and the youth development through sport literature.

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Nikos Zourbanos, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Dimitris Bardas, and Yannis Theodorakis

The present study examined the effects of instructional and motivational self-talk on handball performance using a novel task (nondominant arm) and a learned task (dominant arm) in primary school students. Participants were randomly assigned into two experimental groups (instructional and motivational) and one control group. The results revealed that for both tasks instructional and motivational self-talk groups improved their performance significantly in comparison with the control group and that for the nondominant arm instructional self-talk had a larger effect compared with motivational self-talk. The results suggest that instructional self-talk in the form of external focused cues may be more beneficial in the early stages of learning.

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Duncan Simpson and Craig Wrisberg

Given the relatively little attention devoted to the study of combat sports in the sport psychology literature, the aim of this investigation was to obtain additional insight into the life and world of professional boxers, particularly with respect to their experiences of training for fights. Existential phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine professional British boxers ranging in age from 22 to 42 years. Qualitative analysis of the transcripts revealed a total of 341 meaning units, which were further grouped into higher order themes. A final thematic structure revealed six major dimensions that characterized participants’ training experience: Achieving Potential, Preparing, Sacrificing, Finding Support, Fearing, and Loving/Hating. The results offer a number of insights for sport psychology researchers and practical implications for boxers, trainers, and sport psychology consultants.