As long as athletes strive to attain optimal performance states and consistently reach high performance goals, psychological interventions will be used to assist in the development of skill and the maintenance of performance. In the pursuit of these goals, newer evidence-driven models based on mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches have been designed to achieve these ends. Based upon questionable efficacy data for traditional psychological skills training procedures that emphasize reduction or control of internal processes, mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches develop skills of nonjudging mindful awareness, mindful attention, and experiential acceptance to aid in the pursuit of valued goals. The most formalized and researched mindfulness- and acceptance-based approach within sport psychology is the manualized Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) protocol. In the 8 years since the MAC was first developed and presented, and the 5 years since the first publication on the protocol, the MAC program has accumulated a continually growing empirical base for both its underlying theory and intervention efficacy as a performance enhancement intervention. This article reviews the empirical and theoretical foundations of the mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches in general, and MAC in particular; reviews the accumulated empirical findings in support of the MAC approach for performance enhancement; and presents recent MAC developments and suggested future directions.
Eric D. Morse
Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell, and Gershon Tenenbaum
Semistructured interviews were used in this study to learn about the challenges experienced by four groups of National Hockey League (NHL) players (N= 11): prospects (n= 3), rookies (n= 3), veterans (n= 2), and retirees (n= 3). The database is comprised of 757 meaning units grouped into 11 contextual challenges. From an additional quantitative analysis, the prospects and rookies emphasized challenges pertaining to scouting demands, training camp, increased athletic demands, team expectations, and earning team trust. The veterans spoke mostly of challenges including scouting demands, athletic demands, and team expectations. Retirees considered mostly challenges pertaining to team expectations, athletic demands, lifestyle, media demands, transactions, cross-cultural encounters, and playoffs. An expert panel ensured that the interview guide, data analysis, and the findings represented the participants’ experiences in the NHL. Recommendations for practitioners and researchers working with NHL players are proposed.
Rebecca K. Dickinson and Stephanie J. Hanrahan
This study investigated the properties of the Athens Insomnia Scale (Soldatos et al., 2000), the Fatigue Severity Scale (Krupp et al., 1989), and subscales of the SLEEP-50 Questionnaire (Spoormaker et al., 2005) in elite Australian athletes, to determine their appropriateness for this population. Fifty-nine athletes (29 male, 30 female, M = 21.86 yrs, SD = 7.44) from elite basketball, rowing, netball, beach volleyball, and sailing squads completed measures. A subset (n= 20) completed measures again at a 1-month interval, and a further subset (n= 5) were interviewed about their thoughts regarding the measures and their understanding of sleep. All scales and subscales displayed high internal consistency, apart from that which contained items not theoretically related, and all displayed good 1-month test-retest reliability. All measures were significantly correlated, demonstrating convergent validity. Athletes reported few sleep problems, but moderate fatigue. Athletes stated the measures produced accurate reflections of their sleep and fatigue, but also suggested improvements. Research limitations and implications are discussed.
Anne M. Haase
As female athletes participating in physique-salient sports report similar levels of social physique anxiety (SPA) and disordered eating symptoms compared with those in nonphysique salient sports, alternative factors contributing to disordered eating require consideration, specifically participation in sport type (team vs. individual). This study examined SPA and disordered eating correlates in female athletes (N= 137) in two sport types (team sports and individual sports). Individual sport athletes exhibited higher SPA, F(1, 135) = 22.03, p< .001; dieting, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 57.05) = 43.79, p< .001; and bulimic behavior, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 59.92) = 13.45, p= .001 than team sport athletes. SPA and sport type together predicted 44% of dieting and 22% of bulimic symptom variance, suggesting that individual-sport athletes with higher SPA experienced greater disordered eating. Involvement in individual sports where physique is more open to social evaluation may contribute to dieting and bulimic symptoms among female athletes.
Aditi Mankad, Sandy Gordon, and Karen Wallman
Psychological trauma associated with long-term injury can cause athletes to experience intense stress-like symptoms and considerable negative affect (e.g., Tracey, 2003; Udry, 1997). Due to the nature of competitive sport, however, it is thought that injured athletes inhibit these emotions to the detriment of their physical health. The present study examined Pennebaker’s (1989) emotional disclosure paradigm within a sporting context. It was hypothesized that writing about a traumatic injury would reduce athletes’ mood disturbance and stress during rehabilitation. Further, it was believed that these changes would correspond with an increase in immune expression from pre- to postintervention. Elite injured athletes (N = 9) rehabilitating from anterior cruciate ligament surgery participated in the 3-day writing intervention, consisting of 3 X 20 min writing sessions, during which athletes disclosed negative emotions associated with their injury and rehabilitation experiences. Measures were taken at six time-points (T1-T6), with pre- and postintervention phases lasting for 4 weeks each. Measures consisted of psychological stress (intrusion and avoidance), total mood disturbance, and relative cell-counts/µL for circulating T-cells (CD4/8) and NK cells (CD16/56). Repeated-measures ANOVAs showed a signifcant main effect of time for intrusion, F(5, 70) = 5.83, p =.001, η2 = .29 and avoidance, F(5, 70) = 5.73, p =.002, η2 = 0.29 subscales; mood disturbance, F(5, 70) = 3.71, p= 0.005, η2 = 0.21; and CD4+, F(5, 65) = 2.39, p= 0.048, η2 = .16. Subsequent linear contrasts provided further evidence of significant prepost differences among the stress, mood state, and immune variables. These results suggest that the written disclosure intervention has potential psycho-immunological benefits for athletes rehabilitating from long-term injury.
Anthony Ferreira, Fernando Perez-Diaz, and Charles Cohen-Salmon
Human studies suggest the existence of an exercise dependency syndrome and a link between drug intake and intense physical activity. Our aim was to assess whether a link actually existed between running activity and cocaine intake in mice. Thirty male Swiss mice were used. Ten mice were used as controls, individually housed in cages without a wheel, and 20 mice were in cages with free access to a running wheel. Cocaine preference was estimated as the ratio (as percent) of cocaine solution intake over total fuid intake in the course of free oral access to cocaine solution versus water. High cocaine scores were only found with high wheel activity. The lowest activity scores were found with low cocaine preference. A group of “high runners” impervious to cocaine appetence and to the effects of exercise withdrawal were found, which may suggest that shared mechanisms could be involved in both dependence on sport and drug taking. Findings suggest that moderate activity seems to be associated with low cocaine preference, and cocaine intake could increase in cases of intense activity. The urge for physical activity (as seen with top-level professional athletes) may theoretically combine with different degrees of vulnerability to cocaine. The use of substances by those engaging in intense physical activity, for performance enhancement or recreational purposes, could potentially trigger a pattern of consumption and addiction. This pattern corresponds with the theory that there may be an addictive element in physical activity. Animal models could prove useful for identifying biological or behavioral predictors of such vulnerability and identifying persons either at risk or possessing resistance.
Eric D. Morse
Frank L. Gardner
The development and acceptance of any scientific discipline requires an ever-expanding and maturing empirical base. Yet despite vast scientific progress in allied domains of professional psychology, the field of sport psychology has remained fairly stagnant in its research progress and has overlooked major advances that could aid in the advancement of the discipline. This article discusses important issues related to the lack of efficacy of the traditional and long assumed “gold-standard” interventions for the enhancement of athletic performance, and compares the field’s empirical base to sister disciplines in psychology. Further, the lack of empirical studies examining rate of change, moderators of change, and mediators (mechanisms) of change is discussed, and suggestions are provided for a new research agenda in sport psychology that could expand its professional credibility and enhance its overall scientific development.
Jeffrey J. Martin, Jennifer J. Waldron, Andria McCabe, and Yun Seok Choi
The purpose of our quasi-experimental study was to examine the impact of the Girls on the Run (GOTR) program on multidimensional self-concept and attitudes toward fat. Young girls (N= 21) participated in a 12-week running program designed to increase their running ability, self-esteem, and, in general, their emotional, social, and mental well-being. It was hypothesized that girls would experience favorable changes in their global self-esteem, appearance, peer, physical, and running self-concepts and their attitudes toward fat. The overall RM-ANOVA examining for pre to post differences was significant, F(13, 8) = 26.46, p < .001, η2 = .977, and follow-up within subjects contrasts revealed three significant differences: Physical, F(1, 20) = 6.24, p < .02, η2 = .24, and running self-concept, F(1, 20) = 11.18, p< .003, η2 = .36, as well as fear of fat, F(1, 20) = 4.37, p < .049, η2 = .18, were all significant with meaningful effect sizes. These findings provided preliminary support for the major goal of the GOTR program, enhancing physical and running self-concept with some support for secondary gains in nonphysical ability areas (i.e., reductions in fear of fat).