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Eric D. Morse

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Mark J.G. Holland, Charlotte Woodcock, Jennifer Cumming, and Joan L. Duda

Research on the psychological characteristics of elite performers has primarily focused on Olympic and World champions; however, the mental attributes of young developing and talented athletes have received less attention. Addressing this, the current study had two aims: (a) to examine the perceptions held by youth athletes regarding the mental qualities they need to facilitate their development and (b) to investigate the mental techniques used by these athletes. Forty-three male youth rugby players participated in a series of focus groups. Inductive content analysis revealed 11 categories of psychological qualities, including enjoyment, responsibility, adaptability, squad spirit, self-aware learner, determination, confidence, optimal performance state, game sense, attentional focus, and mental toughness. Techniques employed included personal performance strategies, refection on action, taking advantage of a supportive climate, and team-based strategies. Findings are discussed in relation to their implications for mental skills training program development and evaluation in the case of youth elite team sport athletes.

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Arnaldo Zelli, Fabio Lucidi, and Luca Mallia

This study examined the relative ways in which muscularity and thinness concerns longitudinally influence adolescents’ intentions to use doping substances. It was hypothesized that muscularity and thinness exert their effects on doping intentions by promoting endorsement of positive attitudes toward doping use in male and female adolescents and across different levels of sport involvement. To test this hypothesis, nearly 900 high school adolescents provided questionnaire data on two separate occasions during an academic year. On average, boys, as well as boys and girls who practice some sport, had relatively strong concerns about muscularity, whereas girls showed relatively strong thinness concerns. Boys also expressed more positive attitudes about doping than did girls. Structural equation modeling showed that muscularity and thinness have direct effects on adolescents’ intentions to engage in doping and that muscularity, but not thinness, partly exerts its effects through the endorsement of positive attitudes toward doping.

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Paul J. McCarthy, Marc V. Jones, Chris G. Harwood, and Laura Davenport

Positive affect is linked to enhanced motivation, commitment, and performance among youth sport performers; yet, few psychological interventions have specifically attempted to enhance positive affect among these athletes. To address this circumstance, we implemented a single-subject multiple-baseline design to examine the effects of a goal-setting intervention on the positive and negative affective responses of three competitive youth athletes. Statistical analysis coupled with visual inspection criteria revealed a significant overall increase in positive affect for participants 1 and 2. A statistically significant increase in positive affect also emerged for participant 3, yet it was not possible to detect a significant experimental effect using visual inspection criteria. No statistically significant decreases in negative effect emerged for any of the three participants. These results show some support for the hypothesis that goal setting may enhance positive affect among junior multievent athletes.

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Lori Schwanhausser

This study presents the case of Steve, an adolescent competitive springboard diver. This diver, referred by his coach, received the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach for performance enhancement. The MAC protocol, originally written for an adult population, was used in modified form (under consultation from the authors) to ensure appropriateness for an adolescent population. Conducted in nine individual sessions, the intervention targeted abilities in attention and value-driven behavior to enhance focus, poise, and overall diving performance. Self-report measures of mindfulness and flow, along with objective measures of diving performance were collected pre- and postintervention. Results indicated increases in mindful awareness, mindful attention, experiential acceptance, flow, and diving performance from pre- to postintervention. This case supports the applicability of the MAC protocol with an adolescent athlete population.