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Meghan H. McDonough, Valerie Hadd, Peter R.E. Crocker, Nicholas L. Holt, Katherine A. Tamminen, and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

This study qualitatively examined the congruence between anticipated and experienced stressors and coping, and approaches to coping by elite adolescent swimmers across a competitive season. Eight swimmers were interviewed before and after 4 swim meets in a season. Data collection and analysis were guided by theories of stress and coping. Accuracy of anticipating stressors was low, and the stressors and coping strategies were variable across the season. Idiographic profiles were created for each athlete and grouped according to similar characteristics. Three groups included athletes who (a) generally perceived stressors as something to be avoided, (b) generally perceived stressors as problems to be solved, or (c) generally perceived swimming as fun and minimally stressful. These patterns appeared to be associated with anticipating stressors, highlighting the complex and dynamic nature of stress and coping among adolescent athletes.

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Flora Panteli, Charilaos Tsolakis, Dimitris Efthimiou, and Athanasia Smirniotou

This study examined the contribution of instructional self-talk and observational learning on the development of long jump technique. Sixty-nine beginner athletes were randomly assigned to four groups: ‘self-talk’, ‘video’, ‘self-talk + video’ and control group. All groups performed 24 practice sessions, consisting of a cognitive intervention program in the form of either instructional self-talk or observational learning, or a combination of both, and the practice of specific drills. A significantly higher performance improvement was recorded for the self-talk group in post test, whereas when kinematic variables of the motor skill (center of mass displacement) were assessed, “observational learning” proved to be more effective. The findings of the current study suggest that young, beginner athletes, participating in complicated tasks, may benefit from cognitive intervention techniques, through enhanced attentional focus on the most critical elements of the motor skill.

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Roy David Samuel and Gershon Tenenbaum

This study examined decision-making processes in response to athletic career change-events (e.g., injury, field position change). Athletes’ (N = 338) initial strategic decisions whether to address or ignore a change-event, and their subsequent decisions whether to make the required change were measured using the Change-Event Inventory (Samuel & Tenenbaum, 2011b). Athletes reported a high tendency of making a strategic decision to consult with others, which could be predicted from the event’s perceived significance and availability of professional support. Athletes also reported a high tendency of making a subsequent decision to change, which could be predicted from the helpfulness of support, motivation for change, and certain coping strategies. The two types of decisions were related. Perceived outcome of the change process and athletes’ motivation could also be accurately predicted. In conclusion, to effectively cope with change-events athletes need to feel involved, be in control, and make independent decisions that reflect their genuine needs and wishes.

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Daniel Gould, Dana K. Voelker, and Katherine Griffes

To gain an in depth understanding of the youth leadership development process in sport, qualitative interviews were conducted with high school coaches (6 males; 4 females) known for cultivating leadership in their captains. Hierarchical content analyses revealed that all of the coaches reported proactive approaches toward teaching leadership through sport. However, based on the principles noted in the positive youth development literature, these coaches could do more to enhance their leadership development practices (e.g., empowering captains by more often involving them in important decision-making). Leadership philosophies, specific leadership training strategies, as well as the biggest challenges and mistakes when working with their captains are reported. Directions for future research and structuring captain training programs are discussed.

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Edited by Sheldon Hanton

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David Carless and Kitrina Douglas

Through narrative methodology this study explores the processes and consequences of identity development among young elite athletes, with particular reference to the influence of sport culture. We focus on life stories of two elite male athletes, recounting significant moments from their lives analyzed through the lens of narrative theory. Our findings offer insights into three strands of sport psychology literature. First, responding to calls for a cultural sport psychology, our study reveals how elite sport culture shapes psychological processes of identity development. Second, it shows how the origins of a potentially problematic athletic identity are seeded in early sport experiences, shedding light on how athletic identity is developed or resisted. Finally, it extends previous narrative research into the lives of female professional golfers, documenting how comparable processes unfold among male athletes in other sports, deepening understanding of how cultural narratives influence behavior and life choices.

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Peter Jensen, Jorge Roman, Barrett Shaft, and Craig Wrisberg

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a relatively new and rapidly growing sport within contemporary athletics yet, to date, it has received relatively little attention in the sport psychology literature. To shed more light on the sport, the aim of the current study was to examine the experiences of MMA fighters during sanctioned competitions. Audio-recorded phenomenological interviews were conducted with seven participants and the transcripts were qualitatively analyzed to identify emerging themes. The findings revealed that the most important aspect of fighters’ experience was the chaotic nature of MMA fights, which participants characterized as “cage reality.” The results also suggested that fighters’ arousal regulation skills are at least as important as their technical skills for performance success. Taken together, the present findings extend previous research on MMA and suggest several implications for sport psychology consultants interested in working with fighters.

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Leilani Madrigal, Sharon Hamill, and Diane L. Gill

Mental Toughness (MT), which refers to an inner focus and commitment to rise above challenges when facing adversity, is viewed as one of the most important psychological attributes in determining success in sport. However, there is little consensus on key components of MT, and existing measures vary greatly while focusing on elite athletes. The purpose of this research was to develop a measure of MT for use with college athletes. Collegiate and noncollegiate athletes (N = 271) completed the original 54-item Mental Toughness Scale (MTS) in study 1. Factor analysis (PCA) results reduced the scale to an 11-item scale, with good reliability and validity as demonstrated by its positive correlations with self-esteem and flow. A second study of college basketball players (N = 143) was conducted to establish the psychometric properties of the MTS. Study 2 demonstrated convergent, divergent and criterion validity through correlations with related measures, and a CFA provided moderate support for the MTS as a one-dimensional measure of mental toughness in sport.

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John Jouper and Henrik Gustafsson

Research on how to recover from athlete burnout is scarce. The current aim is therefore to describe an intervention with an elite shooter suffering from burnout, and the use of mindfulness and Qigong to reestablish sport functioning as well as general well-being. The participant used mindfulness and Qigong exercise on a daily basis. Exercise frequency, exercise time, concentration level and Qigong state were noted daily, and levels of stress, energy and primordial force were self-rated weekly for 20 weeks, and followed up after 30, 40 and 50 weeks. The participant recovered from burnout to a state of general well-being (energy and primordial force changed from weak to strong), and her ability to stay concentrated in a Qigong state changed from weak to strong. Her capacity to shoot high scores was reestablished, even if her shooting endurance was not fully recovered. Mindfulness and Qigong techniques may be useful in the prevention of and recovery from athlete burnout.