This article discusses the use of superstition and religious rituals within sport. While the popular view among skeptics seems to be that religious ritual is nothing more than superstition, I argue that while there admittedly are many similarities, there also exist major differences which separate superstition and religious ritual into distinct entities. The realm of sport is one widely known for the numerous exhibitions of both superstition and religious ritual. The examples of sport-related superstition and religious ritual are so numerous that they have even gained noted media attention in the past two decades. Thus, I situate both terms within the practical framework of sport participation. From this foundation, I define both terms in context and begin to examine the effects on athletes’ individual holistic development arguing that religious ritual leads ultimately to a greater holistic development than does superstition. Holistic development is examined in four aspects which are comprised of physiology, emotionality, intellectuality, and spirituality. The positive effects of religious ritual as applied within athletics are mentioned in each aforementioned category. I approach the topic from the perspective of the psychology of religion, sports psychology, as well as Judeo-Christian theological concepts regarding religious ritual. The numerous positive benefits of religious ritual over superstition within athletics lead to a final argument that religious ritual provides significant meaning to the lives of athletes in a way which superstition is simply unable.
Most of the leadership training that team captains receive at the collegiate level consists of either receiving a list of books or articles about leadership or a list of responsibilities that they must do with little or no guidance or instruction. Still others will focus on this reading and/or responsibilities with active discussion in the off-season, yet when it matters the most, during the competitive season, time spent on leadership instruction and follow-ups becomes an afterthought at best. Due to the supposed benefits of improved leadership for sport teams, a leadership development intervention program was developed and applied to two NCAA Division I teams who were successful enough to make it to the NCAA National Championships in their sport. Program effectiveness was determined by the teams meeting not only their seasonal goals but exceeding the primary objectives of the leadership development program set by the leadership consultant and coaching staffs, in addition to the favorable feedback provided by the team to the captains during/after the season, and semistructured interviews of the captains postseason.
Mark P. Otten and Ashley Samson
Campbell Thompson and Mark B. Andersen
This case study involves the progression from a cognitive-behavioral, psychological skills training approach with a rugby football player experiencing adjustment and mood disorder to a psychodynamic and interpersonal engagement with the client using themes from Buddhist psychotherapy. The study charts the development of the psychologist’s understanding of his relationships with clients and with his supervisor. We present a study of three people (i.e., the client, the psychologist, the supervisor) and how their stories and interpersonal interactions are interwoven from a Buddhist-psychodynamic perspective. We examine the influences of the dominant White culture on the male psychologist’s perceptions contrasted with the client’s background as a Pacific Islander. In addition, we present a projective test, which was central to the unfolding of this case study, designed for use with athletes. This case study is a confessional tale (Sparkes, 2002) told in the first-person from the psychologist’s viewpoint.
Expectations regarding pain tolerance are imbedded in the culture of sport, and bear heavily on pain and injury management. The athlete’s experience of pain is an encounter with core issues in the ethos of sport. As such, pain behavior not only influences performance but also is seen as defining character. This case study looks at the pain experience of a track and field athlete over a several-hour period from initial injury to stabilization, blending the perspective of athlete and sport psychologist. As the injury experience evolved, a complex set of interacting biological, psychological and social factors came into play, which alternately facilitated and inhibited the pain experience and which influenced action taken in response to pain.
Mike Rotheram, Ian Maynard, Owen Thomas, Mark Bawden, and Lynn Francis
This study explored whether a meridian-based intervention termed the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) could reduce Type I ‘yips’ symptoms. EFT was applied to a single figure handicap golfer in an attempt to overcome the performance decrements the player had suffered. The participant underwent four 2-hr sessions of EFT. The EFT involved the stimulation of various acupuncture points on the body. The appropriate acupuncture points were tapped while the participant was tuned into the perceived psychological causes (significant life event) associated with his ‘yips’ experience. Dependent variables included: visual inspection of the ‘yips’, putting success rate and motion analysis data. Improvements in ‘yips’ symptoms occurred across all dependent measures. Social validation data also illustrated that these improvements transferred to the competitive situation on the golf course. It is possible that significant life events may be a causal factor in the ‘yips’ experience and that EFT may be an effective treatment for the ‘yips’ condition.
Amanda Martindale and Dave Collins
This case study of an elite judo player recovering from injury provides an exemplification of a practitioner’s Professional Judgment and Decision Making (PJDM) using a ‘reflection-in-action research’ methodology. The process of “reflection-in-action” Schön (1991) and in particular the concept of ‘framing’ offer insight into how professionals think in action. These concepts assisted the practitioner in organizing, clarifying and conceptualizing the client’s issues and forming intentions for impact. This case study exemplifies the influence of practitioner PJDM on implementation at multiple levels of practice including planning the overall program of support, designing specific interventions to aid client recovery and moment-to-moment in-situ decision making session-by session. It is suggested that consideration of practitioner PJDM should be a strong feature of case study reporting and that this approach carries the potential to extend our use of case studies within applied sport psychology practice.