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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.

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Stephen Mellalieu, David A. Shearer, and Catherine Shearer

Interpersonal conflict is a common factor reported by governing bodies and their athletes when preparing for, or competing in, major games and championships (Olusoga, Butt, Hays, & Maynard, 2009). The aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary exploration of a UK home nation’s athletes, management, and support staff experiences of interpersonal conflict during competition. Ninety participants who had represented or worked for their nation at major games or championships completed a detailed survey of interpersonal conflict experiences associated with competition. The results suggest athletes, coaches, and team managers are at the greatest risk from interpersonal conflict, while the competition venue and athlete village are where the most incidences of conflict occur. Interpersonal conflict was also suggested to predominantly lead to negative cognitive, affective, and behavioral consequences (disagreement, anger, upset, loss in concentration). Findings are discussed in the context of the experience of the interpersonal conflict with provisional recommendations offered for developing effective strategies for conflict management.

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Patrick Michael Holmberg and Dennis A. Sheridan

In this study, we examined self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985) as a framework for understanding potential antecedents of burnout in 598 American college athletes. Using a cross-sectional design, the aims of the study were to investigate relationships among the dimensions of athlete burnout and the degree of self-determination among college athletes. As hypothesized, results indicated a strong relationship between the degree of self-determination and the dimensions of burnout, thus providing support for the utility of an SDT explanation regarding the occurrence of burnout. Findings also showed motivational variables to be the most powerful predictor of burnout (Devaluation, 44.5%; Reduced Sense of Accomplishment, 28%; Physical/Emotional Exhaustion, 15.4%). Implications of these results for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

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Gio Valiante and David B. Morris

The purpose of this study was to explore the self-efficacy beliefs of male professional golfers (N = 12). Three themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of interview responses. First, enactive mastery experiences were the most powerful source of self-efficacy. Second, golfers maintained high self-efficacy over time by recalling prior success, strategically framing experiences, and enlisting supportive verbal persuasions from themselves and from others. Finally, self-efficacy influenced professional golfers’ thought patterns, outcome expectations, and emotional states. Findings support and refine the theoretical tenets of Bandura’s social cognitive theory.

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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.