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National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Assistant Coaches’ Understanding and Use of Mental Performance and Mental Health Services

Morgan R. Eckenrod, Heather Hill, Melissa Thompson, Laurie A. Neelis, and Paul T. Donahue

Assistant coaches play an important role in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletic departments and spend substantial amounts of time working with student-athletes, yet no research to date has examined their knowledge of mental performance and mental health services. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn about NCAA Division I assistant coaches’ understanding and use of mental performance and mental health services. Thirteen assistant coaches employed at universities with at least one mental performance consultant and one licensed mental health provider were interviewed. Thematic analysis procedures were used, and five themes were constructed: (a) day-to-day responsibilities of the assistant coach, (b) needing both mental performance and mental health services, (c) factors influencing understanding of mental performance and mental health services, (d) factors impacting student-athlete utilization of mental performance and mental health services, and (e) confusion between mental performance and mental health services.

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Exploring the Implementation and Practices of the Parent–Coach Dual Role

Mia KurtzFavero, Alex Murata, Niël Strydom, Tiffany Tse, Guilherme H. Costa, and Jean Côté

Previous research looking into youth sport coaching indicates that a majority of coaches may also be a parent to an athlete on their team. While previous studies have also sought to understand how being a parent–coach might affect parents’ relationships with their own child(ren), little work appears to explore how occupying this role might affect an individual’s ability to remain effective as a coach. As such, 14 parent–coaches were interviewed to examine how they perceived their dual role to influence their coaching effectiveness and to hear what strategies they used to remain effective. Interviews were analyzed thematically, and findings indicated that parent–coaches have few formalized resources to aid them in navigating the issues associated with their challenging dual-role position. More support would be welcomed by this population to improve their effectiveness and to ensure that all developing athletes in their care continue to have positive experiences within the youth sport environment.

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“It’s Absolutely Essential”: Sport and Performance Psychology Practitioners’ Perspectives on Training, Use, and Importance of Debriefing in Applied Work

Stefanee Maurice, Megan Byrd, Holt Crawford, Kaytlyn Johnson, Joy He, and Carolena Charalambous

Debriefing is commonly used in sport and performance psychology (SPP), but little has been done to expand debriefing education and training experiences. The researchers sought to examine SPP practitioners’ education and training on debriefing and how it is used in their applied work. This study had two phases (Phase I, n = 143; Phase II, n = 13). During Phase I, researchers developed a 16-item questionnaire regarding demographics and debriefing training, use, and importance. Many participants debriefed every session (46%) and rated debriefing as extremely (53.1%) or very important (39.2%). Participants were unsatisfied with their training (55%) and desired more debriefing training from coursework (65%). Three themes were identified in Phase II interviews: training and education, use of debriefing, and importance of debriefing. With limited research in SPP about debriefing, this study furthers knowledge about how debriefing is used in practice and how training experiences can be improved.

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An Insight Into the Use of Personality Assessment by U.K. Sport Psychology Consultants

Stephen Rowles and Tim Holder

Personality has a long, if somewhat checkered history in the sport psychology literature, but insight into its use in contemporary applied practice is more limited. This study investigated contemporary sport psychology consultants’ perceptions of using personality assessment. Ten participants (four female and six male; mean 14 years’ applied experience), all Health and Care Professions Council–registered and accredited by either the British Psychological Society or British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, were purposefully sampled and interviewed. An inductive thematic analysis was then performed. Five themes were identified: effective practice, perceived impact, societal movements, organizational experience, and innovation. Findings deliver an original insight into the perceptions of practitioners around personality assessment in sport, illustrating a movement from prediction to development in the field and providing novel examples of bespoke, individualized tool application. Broad training and career experiences will help practitioners fully appreciate these potential opportunities.

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How Psychologists in Men’s English Football Academies Evaluate Their Working Context and Adopt an Appropriate Professional Practice Framework

Niels Boysen Feddersen, Francesca Champ, Stig Arve Sæther, and Martin Littlewood

This study examined how psychologists working in men’s English football academies evaluate their working context when choosing a professional practice framework for guiding applied psychology provisions. Sixteen psychologists—six women and 10 men—participated in two semistructured interviews. A stepwise inductive–deductive approach in the analysis was used. The authors found that 13 of the psychologists adopted humanistic psychology as their guiding framework. In exploring the reasoning, three categories were developed: (a) motives for choosing a humanistic approach, (b) challenges when applying a humanistic approach, and (c) perpetuating stigma and restrictive assumptions regarding sport psychology. The study shows that humanistic psychology might be an effective approach to countering some dehumanizing features in the current English academy context (e.g., an overreliance on metrics). However, the Premier League, the Football Association, and other governing football organizations should notice the drawbacks of how psychologists sometimes must collude with the current system to establish psychology in the academy before later expanding provisions.

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Volume 37 (2023): Issue 2 (Jun 2023)

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Exploring the Athletic Identity, Anxiety, and Mental Health of Division II Collegiate Athletes in the COVID-19 Era

Justin A. Hebert and Aubrey Newland

The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications on the health and well-being of student-athletes. The present study explored the athletic experiences of NCAA Division II college athletes during the competitive hiatus caused by the pandemic, as well as in their return to sport participation. Twenty male and female student-athletes from a variety of sports (freshman = 2, sophomores = 4, seniors = 9, and graduate = 5) participated in semistructured interviews to explore how the pandemic affected their athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health. Through the use of thematic content analysis, the following major themes were identified: (a) influence of COVID on athletic identity, (b) increased anxiety during COVID, (c) social aspects of sport participation, and (d) factors that influence mental health. Findings indicated a combination of positive and negative effects on the athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health and well-being of student-athletes.

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Mental Health Literacy Intervention to Reduce Stigma Toward Mental Health Symptoms and Disorders in Women Rugby Players: A Feasibility Study

Shakiba Oftadeh-Moghadam, Neil Weston, and Paul Gorczynski

This feasibility study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention on stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions among U.K. semielite women rugby players. Seven semielite women rugby players participated. An A-B-A single-case experimental research design was used to assess stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions at baseline, intervention, and follow-up phases. The intervention was successful in enhancing the players’ mental health literacy and reducing stigmatizing attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Acknowledging the study’s small sample size, the findings revealed that there is a need for scaffolding to support future developments, advancements, and maintenance of mental health support in women’s rugby. Practical implications of future findings from a larger-scale study may lead to policy reformation across the game to inform and improve systemic mental health support for women rugby players.

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A Novel Exploration of Occupational Recovery in Certified Mental Performance Consultants

Anthony Magdaleno and Barbara B. Meyer

Researchers have provided evidence that workplace demands impair professionals’ health and performance, while occupational recovery facilitates them. Sport psychology professionals experience workplace demands (e.g., organizational stressors) and must manage their health and performance to consistently deliver competent, ethical, and effective services. Therefore, the purpose of this novel study was to explore the prevalence of, and relationship between, perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery (i.e., recovery experiences, off-job activities) in certified mental performance consultants (CMPCs). A sample of 140 CMPCs completed measures of perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery. Results indicated that psychological aspects of occupational recovery significantly predicted perceived stress. Practical implications to reduce CMPCs’ perceived stress include the promotion of occupational recovery through prioritization of activities positively related to recovery experiences.