Athletes employ a variety of adaptation strategies when adjusting to competitive environments. Fiske (2004) identified five core motives that facilitate human adaptation: (a) understanding, (b) controlling, (c) self-enhancement, (d) belonging, and (e) trusting. Recent qualitative analyses (Schinke, Gauthier, Dubuc, & Crowder, 2007) revealed that these motives correspond to particular adaptation strategies that professional athletes employ in stressful settings. The present study uses analysis of archival data (i.e., journalistic accounts) to explore the adaptation efforts of Canadian Olympic athletes (N = 103) as they prepared for and participated in summer (n = 35) and winter (n = 68) games. Contextual experts with extensive Olympic experience were enlisted to clarify the archival record. Findings revealed that the Olympic athletes used strategies corresponding to each of Fiske’s five motives, as well as numerous specific substrategies. Use of substrategies was consistent across athletes, regardless of Olympic experience, gender, or season (e.g., winter or summer games). Discussion explores the implications of adaptation strategies for Olympic athletes and their supporting staff.
Robert J. Schinke, Randy C. Battochio, Nicole G. Dubuc, Shawn Swords, Gord Apolloni, and Gershon Tenenbaum
Scott B. Martin, Christy M. Polster, Allen W. Jackson, Christy A. Greenleaf, and Gretchen M. Jones
The purpose of this investigation was to explore the frequency and intensity of worries and fears associated with competitive gymnastics. These issues were initially examined in a sample of 7 female college gymnasts using a semistructured guided interview. From the themes that emerged and relevant literature, a survey including parallel intensity and frequency of worry questions was administered to 120 female gymnasts competing in USA Gymnastics sanctioned events. Results indicated that even though gymnasts worry about attempting and performing skills on the balance beam and uneven bars, more of them experienced a greater number of injuries on the floor exercise. Analysis of covariance for intensity and frequency using age as the covariate revealed that advanced gymnasts had more intense worries about body changes and performing skills and more frequent worries about body changes than less skilled gymnasts (p < .05). Advanced gymnasts also reported using more strategies to modify their worries than did less skilled gymnasts.
Kelly A. Forrest
Attachment (Bowlby, 1969/1982) is an interdisciplinary theory of social development that views early relationships with caregivers as central to how individuals learn to regulate attention under attachment-related stress (Fonagy & Target, 2002; Main, 2000; Hesse & Main, 2000). This paper proposes that conditions present in competitive sport situations, such as unexpected conditions, fear of failure, fatigue, and coach stress are likely to activate attachment-related attentional processes of athletes and differentially influence attentional flexibility under competitive stress. The attachment-based approach to performance-related problems in which attentional processes are implicated, such as anxiety, choking, and self-regulation, is discussed. Research using the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1996) is suggested to investigate the distribution of adult attachment classification in the athlete population.
Donald R. Marks
Recent studies using neuroimaging technologies offer evidence that ancient beliefs about the benefits (e.g., enhanced attention, increased distress tolerance) associated with mindfulness practice and other forms of meditation may be supported by identifiable neuroanatomical changes in the brain. Although it is too early to make probative statements regarding exactly how and why contemplative practices affect the structure and activity of the brain, sport psychologists may want to consider the potential implications of the findings that have begun to emerge from this neural correlates research. The goal of this article is to (a) review the findings from the principal studies of contemplative practice that have employed measures of neuronal activity (e.g., fMRI, EEG) and (b) examine the potential relevance of these studies to the treatment of psychological disorders among athletes and the enhancement of athletic performance.
Holly F. Serrao, Matthew P. Martens, Jessica L. Martin, and Tracey L. Rocha
Large-scale, national research studies have consistently indicated that college students participating in athletics consume more alcohol than nonathletes. Theorists have speculated that a number of risk factors could be associated with heavy drinking among this group, although research in the area has been sparse. The purpose of the current study was to assess the relationship between one possible risk factor, competitiveness, in a sample of recreational and elite college athletes to determine whether competitiveness was related to alcohol use among these athletes. Data were collected from a sample of 298 undergraduates from a large university in the northeastern United States. Results showed that competitiveness was associated with higher amounts of alcohol consumption. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.
Catarina Sousa, Ronald E. Smith, and Jaume Cruz
Coach Effectiveness Training (CET) has been shown to have positive effects on a range of outcome variables, especially in young athletes (Smith & Smoll, 2005). Based on CET principles, and coupled with behavioral feedback, an individualized goal-setting intervention was developed and assessed using a replicated case study approach. Outcome variables included observed, athlete-perceived, and coach-perceived behaviors measured before the intervention and late in the season, as well as coaches’ evaluations of the intervention. Four soccer coaches selected three target behaviors that they wished to improve after viewing videotaped behavioral feedback. Behavioral assessment revealed that two of the coaches achieved positive changes on all three of their targeted behaviors. A third coach improved on two of the three targeted behaviors. The fourth coach did not achieve any of the established goals. We conclude that this approach is sufficiently promising to warrant additional research, and we discuss strengths and limitations of the study.
Daniel Fulham O’Neill
Season-ending injuries, particularly those to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), continue to occur at a high rate in many sports. Although multiple factors are thought to contribute to this injury rate, no study has looked at possible psychological influences. Therefore, the present hypothesis suggests that there exists an emotional trauma that affects athletes after seeing someone in their own sport sustain a serious injury. This traumatic response could result in a change in performance tactics that could result in injury to oneself (“injury contagion”). Students numbering 459 (N= 459; 277 males and 182 females) from four ski academies were studied. Results from psychological testing showed an increase in the use of fear words and phrases after injury to a teammate. As a result, it is recommended that coaches and other personnel maintain a heightened awareness of teammates’ emotions after a team member sustains a significant injury.
Eric D. Morse
Ronald L. Kamm
Like the sports medicine physician, the sport psychiatrist plays an important role in the sports medicine team (SMT). A specialist in diagnosing emotional disorders can increase the diagnostic and treatment capabilities of the SMT. The goal of this article is to increase awareness of the psychiatric disorders commonly occurring among athletes and highlight the value of accurate psychiatric diagnosis. Using vignettes involving established athletes, the article examines anxiety and mood disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and attention deficit disorder as they occur in athletic settings, as well as other syndromes with particular relevance to athletes, such as overtraining and postconcussion syndrome. Other clinical issues encountered while working with athletes, including learning disabilities and career termination concerns, are also discussed. Finally, the basic concepts of transference and countertransference are reviewed to highlight important relational dynamics between the athlete and the SMT.
Jamie B. Barker and Marc V. Jones
This study reports the effects of a hypnosis intervention on a professional soccer player who reported low self-efficacy and a negative mood state relative to his soccer performance. Pre- and postintervention data were collected via a Soccer Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (SSEQ) that consisted of 10 items relating to good soccer performance, the Trait Sport Confidence Inventory (TSCI), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and a Soccer Performance Measure (SPM). An intervention program consisting of eight hypnosis sessions was conducted. These sessions comprised the presentation of ego-strengthening suggestions. Both visual and statistical analysis revealed substantial increases in trait sport confidence, self-efficacy, positive affect, and soccer performance, as well as a substantial decrease in negative affect over the course of the intervention. The findings of this case study suggest that hypnosis can be used to enhance self-efficacy, affect, and sport performance. A number of practical issues are presented surrounding the use of hypnosis in the context of English soccer and with athletes in general.