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Comparisons and Conversions: A Methodological Note and Caution for Meta-Analysis in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Andrew P. Hill

Meta-analysis is a powerful tool in sport and exercise psychology. However, it has a number of pitfalls, and some lead to ill-advised comparisons and overestimation of effects. The impetus for this research note is provided by a recent systematic review of meta-analyses that examined the correlates of sport performance and has fallen foul of some of the pitfalls. Although the systematic review potentially has great value for researchers and practitioners alike, it treats effects from correlational and intervention studies as yielding equivalent information, double-counts multiple studies, and uses an effect size for correlational studies (Cohen’s d) that provides an extreme contrast of unclear practical relevance. These issues impact interpretability, bias, and usefulness of the findings. This methodological note explains each pitfall and illustrates use of an appropriate equivalent effect size for correlational studies (Mathur and VanderWeele’s d) to help researchers avoid similar issues in future work.

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Social Supports and Barriers for Older Adults Not Participating in Group Physical Activity

Lindsay Morrison, Meghan H. McDonough, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Cari Din, and Sarah J. Kenny

Group physical activity can provide physical and social benefits; however, social barriers or a lack of social support may affect participation. This study examined social-support needs and barriers among older adults who were not participating in group physical activities. Using interpretive description, semistructured interviews were conducted with 38 older adults (M = 70.9 years; 81.6% women). Themes were grouped into two categories. Category 1, expectations and initial impressions, consisted of the following: (a) Groups cannot meet everyone’s expectations or interests, (b) groups are intimidating to join, and (c) the need for inclusive programming. Category 2, social processes within group physical activity, consisted of (a) modeling physical activity behaviors, (b) sharing information and suggestions about physical activity opportunities, and (c) encouragement and genuine interest. Outreach to this population should aim to address these barriers and utilize these supportive behaviors to reduce feelings of intimidation and promote participation among older adults.

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Teachers’ Verbal and Nonverbal Communication, Students’ Psychological Needs, and Positive and Negative Outcomes in Physical Education

Héctor Moreno-Casado, Francisco M. Leo, Miguel A. López-Gajardo, Tomás García-Calvo, and Juan J. Pulido

Focused on physical education (PE), this study examined the association between teachers’ communication and students’ psychological needs, enjoyment/boredom, PE usefulness, and students’ grade perception. Participants were 1,000 students (572 girls; M age = 14.58 ± 0.65) from 29 Spanish secondary schools. A path model including variables measured at three times was tested: teachers’ verbal/nonverbal communication (Time 1), needs satisfaction/frustration (Time 2), and PE outcomes (Time 3). Verbal communication positively predicted needs satisfaction, which, in turn, positively predicted enjoyment, PE usefulness, and students’ grade perception and negatively predicted boredom. Verbal communication negatively predicted needs frustration, which was a positive predictor of boredom. Multigroup analysis showed that gender did not moderate the associations in the path model, whereas mediating effects were found between teachers’ communication and consequences via students’ psychological needs. Teachers should improve their communicative capacities to satisfy students’ psychological needs and promote positive PE  outcomes.

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Kim Gammage, Erica Bennett, Alyson Crozier, Alison Ede, Matt Hoffman, Seungmin Lee, Sascha Leisterer, Sean Locke, Desi McEwan, Kathleen Mellano, Eva Pila, and Matthew Stork

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Examining the Utility of Stress-, Motivation-, and Commitment-Based Perspectives of Athlete Burnout

Siobhán Woods, Simon Dunne, and Pamela Gallagher

Burnout, characterized by exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, and devaluation, can have substantial negative implications for athletes. Notably, researchers continue to examine burnout from multiple perspectives, commonly focusing on stress-, motivation-, or commitment-related factors, with limited efforts to consider these perspectives together. In contrast, this study aimed to assess the utility of these multiple perspectives and the key predictors of burnout in the same athlete sample. Data on burnout, stress, motivation, motivational climate, and sport commitment were gathered from 370 Gaelic games athletes. Separate structural equation models incorporating stress, motivation, and commitment factors as predictors of burnout dimensions were assessed. All models showed adequate fit. However, differences in effect size suggest that stress is more strongly associated with exhaustion, while commitment and motivation showed a stronger relationship with reduced accomplishment and devaluation. Evidence of significant predictors across perspectives also supports an integrated approach and may inform integration efforts and targeted intervention strategies.

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Volume 45 (2023): Issue 4 (Aug 2023)

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Sex Differences in Perceived Motor Competence After the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program Intervention

Leesi George-Komi, Kara K. Palmer, Stephanie A. Palmer, Michael A. Nunu, and Leah E. Robinson

This study examined the effects of a motor-skill intervention on children’s perceived motor competence (PMC; object control, locomotor, and combined [total]) and explored if effects differed between the sexes. Preschoolers (N = 274; 47.96 months) completed either a motor-skill intervention (the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program [CHAMP]) or recess. PMC was measured with the Digital Scale of PMC before and after each condition. Controlling for pretest scores, recess girls had lower posttest object-control PMC scores than CHAMP boys, CHAMP girls, and recess boys (all p < .05). CHAMP children had significantly higher posttest locomotor and total PMC (all p < .001) compared with children who engaged in recess. CHAMP partially eliminates sex differences in PMC, particularly for object-control skills. Girls who participated in recess did not increase PMC like children in CHAMP and boys who engaged in outdoor recess.

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Mental Effort in Elite and Nonelite Rowers

Henrik Herrebrøden, Thomas Espeseth, and Laura Bishop

Mental effort (intensity of attention) in elite sports has remained a debated topic and a challenging phenomenon to measure. Thus, a quasi-ecological laboratory study was conducted to investigate mental effort in elite rowers as compared with a group of nonelites. Findings suggest that eye-tracking measures—specifically, blink rates and pupil size—can serve as valid indicators of mental effort in physically demanding sport tasks. Furthermore, findings contradict the notion that elite athletes spend less cognitive effort than their lower-level peers. Specifically, elites displayed similar levels of self-reported effort and performance decrement with increasing mental load and significantly more mental effort overall as measured by pupil-size increase (relative to baseline) during rowing trials as compared with the nonelites in the sample. Future studies on eye tracking in sports may include investigations of mental effort in addition to selective attention during physically demanding tasks.

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The Relationship of Resilience, Self-Compassion, and Social Support to Psychological Distress in Women Collegiate Athletes During COVID-19

Matthew Mikesell, Trent A. Petrie, Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, and E. Whitney G. Moore

Given how COVID-19 had caused significant increases in collegiate athletes’ psychological distress, we examined the extent to which such distress may have been ameliorated by the athletes’ psychosocial resources (e.g., resilience). We used structural equation modeling to examine the direct and indirect relationships of resilience, self-compassion, and social support to women collegiate athletes’ (N = 3,924; 81.2% White) psychological distress; athletes completed measures of these constructs from mid-April to mid-May 2020. Analyses revealed significant direct effects: More supported (β = −0.12 to −0.19), self-compassionate (β = −0.48 to −0.53), and resilient (β = −0.21 to −0.35) athletes experienced less psychological distress (R 2 = .61–.65). Further, self-compassion and social support were related indirectly (and inversely) to psychological distress through higher levels of resilience. These psychosocial resources appear to have played a positive role in how athletes coped with the pandemic, being associated with less psychological distress. These findings have application beyond the pandemic, providing direction for how sport psychology professionals may assist athletes in maintaining their well-being.

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An Examination of the Challenge/Threat State and Sport-Performance Relationship While Controlling for Past Performance

Matthew Jewiss, Oliver R. Runswick, and Iain Greenlees

A challenge state is associated with superior performance compared to a threat state in a variety of performance domains (e.g., sport, aviation, education). However, in the challenge and threat (C/T) literature, between-subjects variability in past performance is often inconsistently controlled for. Here, we aimed to investigate the effects of C/T states on performance using two methods to control for past performance. Experiment 1 used previous performance statistics in a between-subjects design and Experiment 2 used a within-subject design. In Experiment 1, regression analysis showed that cardiovascular correlates of C/T states predicted cricket batting performance in 45 amateur cricketers. In Experiment 2, between- and within-subject analysis found that past performance was the only predictor of subsequent golf putting performance in 40 noncompetitive golfers. Taken together, the findings challenge the role that C/T states play in predicting performance under pressure after controlling for past performance.