The purpose of this study was to explore the views and experiences of sport psychology consultants who have worked with perfectionistic elite athletes and, particularly, their views on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. Semistructured interviews were conducted with four professional sport psychology consultants who identified themselves as having experience of working with athletes they consider to be perfectionistic. Two themes were generated: manifestations of perfectionism and management of perfectionism. The consultants found perfectionistic athletes to have rigid attitudes and strong negative emotional experiences, to use safety behaviors, and to regularly underperform. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as mindfulness, cognitive restructuring, and psychological skills training were most commonly used and were largely viewed as effective against a backdrop of sporting environment that could often encourage athletes to be perfectionistic. The findings highlight the complexity of perfectionism from a consultancy perspective and the potential challenges associated with working with perfectionistic athletes.
Ellinor Klockare, Luke F. Olsson, Henrik Gustafsson, Carolina Lundqvist, and Andrew P. Hill
Leo J. Roberts, Mervyn S. Jackson, and Ian H. Grundy
There are numerous studies of expert golfers’ thought processes, but few have examined thinking during both shot preparation and execution. This study had skilled golfers (N = 95, mean handicap = 1.5) complete a mixed-methods survey about their preparation/execution thoughts (a) in usual competitive circumstances and (b) during past experiences of choking. The results provided rare documentation of the ways that highly skilled golfers occupy their minds throughout the whole shot-making process. Moreover, the data allowed comparison of what golfers prefer to focus on and what the sport psychology literature recommends as optimal. The clearest gap that emerged was widespread use of deliberate or multifaceted thought during execution, against classical recommendations to swing with a quiet mind. The examination of choking implied that conscious interference was a more common rationalization for choking than previously reported. Implications for practice are discussed.
Lee Baldock, Brendan Cropley, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and Rich Neil
A novel concurrent, independent mixed-methods research design was adopted to explore elite association football coaches’ stress and mental ill-/well-being experiences over the course of an entire season. Elite coaches (N = 18) completed measures of perceived stressor severity, coping effectiveness, and mental ill-/well-being, with a sample (n = 8) also participating in semistructured interviews, across four time points. Linear mixed-model and retroductive analyses revealed (a) lower mental well-being at the beginning of the season due to negative appraisals/responses to stressors and ineffective coping attempts, (b) higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at the end of the season, (c) stressors high in severity led to decreased mental well-being (unless coaches coped effectively) and increased symptoms associated with burnout, and (d) ineffective coping attempts led to increased emotional exhaustion. These findings offer novel insight into the specific components of elite football coaches’ stress experiences influencing their mental ill-/well-being over time.
William R. Low, Joanne Butt, Paul Freeman, Mike Stoker, and Ian Maynard
Pressure training (PT) strategically increases pressure in training to prepare athletes to perform under pressure. Although research has studied how to create pressure during training, PT’s effectiveness may depend on more than creating pressure. A practitioner’s delivery of sport psychology interventions can moderate their effectiveness, so the current study explored perspectives of sport psychologists and athletes on the characteristics of effective PT delivery in applied settings. Eight international-level athletes and eight sport psychologists participated in semistructured qualitative interviews in which they described their experience participating in or conducting PT, respectively. Thematic analysis produced four themes relating to effective delivery: (a) collaboration with athletes and coaches: “with,” not “to”; (b) integration into training; (c) upfront transparency; and (d) promoting learning before and after PT. The themes provide guidance for planning, conducting, and following up on PT sessions in applied settings. The best practices discussed could increase athletes’ receptiveness to PT.
Elmer A. Castillo
The performance profile (PP) technique is a standard intervention employed by mental performance consultants to enhance a range of psychological outcomes within individuals and groups. Since its inception, the PP has generated much applied and research interest in the field of sport and performance psychology. The last decade has seen a resurgence of performance profiling publications, including applied reflections and empirical investigations, as well as extending use of the technique to novel populations. In addition to novel applications, more psychological outcomes, formal adaptations, theoretical extensions, and validity data have been provided. This paper distills previous and recent PP literature so as to provide a comprehensive and updated overview of the popular PP procedure. To this end, the PP technique’s implementation overview, theoretical roots, established variations, validity, and impacts to date are thoroughly discussed. Limitations of the technique and future directions to extend the performance profiling literature are offered. Collectively, this information provides readers with insight as to the flexibility, utility, and effectiveness of the PP technique and implications for professional practice.
Tom De Clerck, Annick Willem, Sofie Morbée, Delfien Van Dyck, and Leen Haerens
A considerable amount of research based on self-determination theory has provided evidence for the pivotal role of the coaches’ motivating style in predicting sports club members’ motivation to participate in organized sports. This study also investigated the importance of the sports club leaders’ motivating style for members’ motivation. Specifically, it focused on the relation between the leaders’ motivating style and members’ motivation via the coaches’ motivating style (i.e., trickle-down effect), hereby relying on the perceptions of sports club members (N = 210). Results pointed to the existence of a trickle-down effect, showing that the leaders’ motivating style was reflected in the coaches’ motivating style, which in turn related positively to members’ autonomous motivation and negatively to members’ amotivation. This study provides a proof of principle of the trickle-down effect in sports clubs, urging researchers to further explore this effect in the sports context.
Tom O. Mitchell, Ian H.J. Cowburn, David Piggott, Martin A. Littlewood, Tony Cook, and Kevin Till
The possession of certain psychosocial characteristics can offer performance advantages in a range of domains. However, integrating a program to support the development of psychosocial characteristics is a lengthy process and involves context-specific knowledge and effective working relationships with stakeholders. The aim of this article is to present a real-life example of the design, delivery, and implementation of a theoretically informed psychosocial development program for players within an academy soccer setting to include player workshops, coach delivery, and ways to influence the environment. This multifaceted approach included formal and informal meetings, observations, coach education, and social media groups. Initial reflections suggested workshops are an effective method to “teach” some of the aspects within the program. Integrating coaches throughout design and implementation is recommended. Key stakeholders should consider investing time in education for coaches to develop strategies to foster psychosocial development in their players. Limitations and future recommendations are discussed.