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Understanding the Leadership and Environmental Mechanisms in a Super League Netball Club

Don Vinson, Anita Navin, Alison Lamont, Jennifer Turnnidge, and Jean Côté

The personal assets framework offers a lens to better understand the relationship between leadership in sport environments and the resultant (athlete) developmental outcomes. This investigation aimed to explore how leadership behaviors and the broader environment of a Super League netball club represented an effective context for athletes to flourish by exploring the interrelations between the personal assets framework’s dynamic elements, namely (a) quality social dynamics, (b) appropriate settings, and (c) personal engagement in activities. Twenty-eight stakeholders were interviewed either individually or in small groups. The results revealed that the environment constructed was shaped by many interrelated mechanisms, and all stakeholders influenced how the dynamic elements intersected with one another. Key leadership behaviors driving the positive environment of the club were related to individualization and generating perceptions of value. The stakeholders’ desire to understand the relationship between their individual contribution and Super League netball was also crucial.

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Self-Expectations, Socially Prescribed Expectations, and Wellness in 14- to 15-Year-Old Athletes, Ballet, and Music Students in Norwegian Talent Schools—An Interview Study

Annett Victoria Stornæs, Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen, Gunn Pettersen, Jan H. Rosenvinge, and Sanna M. Nordin-Bates

Talent-school settings may generate stress via demanding expectations. To investigate students representing Norway’s growing phenomenon of early adolescent talent schools, we interviewed twenty-seven 14- to15-year-old boys and girls about their experiences with self- and socially imposed expectations. Students were recruited from two sports schools (n = 14) and one school each with talent classes for ballet (n = 7) and music (n = 6). Using reflexive thematic analysis, we found four main themes representing the performers’ accounts of (a) self-oriented expectations of persistent hard work, evoking self-doubts, and never-give-up attitudes; (b) coaches’/teachers’ socially prescribed expectations, stimulating hard work, and pursuit of approval and opportunities; (c) parental expectations, reflected as helpful support, concerns of letting parents down, and negotiating independence; and (d) struggles with balancing expectations, reflected by demanding workloads, difficulties with prioritizing recovery, and ill-being. Early interventions targeting unhealthy self- and socially imposed expectations in high-expectation settings may be required to safeguard youth performers’ healthy development.

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Volume 37 (2023): Issue 1 (Mar 2023)

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Let’s Hear It From the Kids! Examining the Experiences, Views, and Needs of Highly Committed Children Involved in Youth Sport

Jennifer J. Harris, Dave Collins, and Christine Nash

Sport specialization and intensive training programs are becoming increasingly popular, but there is an ongoing debate as to their value. This study explored how children experience arduous, specialized training and whether they find it enjoyable and meaningful. We also examined their perspective of what parental involvement they needed. One hundred three participants filled out an online questionnaire. Results demonstrated that the participants were almost without exception highly committed to their training. They acknowledged the documented downsides, such as long hours, pain, and repetition, but expressed resounding commitment, giving little indication that they looked for change. They admitted that they preferred their parents not to be involved with their coaching and disclosed that showing pride for them was their main wish. This study demonstrates that passion can engender powerful commitment and satisfaction from training that may be sometimes considered by others as too challenging for a young person to undertake.

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The Self-Regulation and Smartphone Usage Model: A Framework to Help Athletes Manage Smartphone Usage

Poppy DesClouds and Natalie Durand-Bush

Self-regulation is essential for optimal development, performance, and well-being in sport, and smartphones may support and hinder this self-regulation. The relationship between smartphones and self-regulation has seldom been investigated in sport. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine self-regulatory processes, conditions, and outcomes related to athletes’ smartphone usage. Twenty-four competitive and high-performance athletes from eight sports participated in individual interviews informed by the models of self-regulated learning and self-regulatory strength. Themes created from a directed content analysis aligned with components of both models and were integrated with new themes to form the “Self-regulation and Smartphone Usage Model” (SSUM). The SSUM illustrates a cyclical model of self-regulation and smartphone usage across five components: self-regulation capacity, processes, conditions, outcomes, and competencies. While self-regulation demands can be increased because of smartphones and lead to depletion, smartphones can be powerful vehicles to strengthen self-regulation competencies.

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The Relationship of Coach-Created Motivational Climate to Teamwork Behaviors in Female Collegiate Athletes

Derek M. Sokoloff, Trent A. Petrie, and Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu

Although teamwork behaviors would be expected to emerge from coach-created task-involving climates, no study has focused on this connection. Thus, we surveyed female National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletes (N = 536) on their perceptions of motivational climates created by their head coaches (i.e., 33-item Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire) and their beliefs about their team’s teamwork behaviors (i.e., 19-item Multidimensional Assessment of Teamwork in Sport—Short Form). Cluster analyses revealed three groupings of coach-created climates: low task/high ego (n = 125), moderate task/moderate ego (n = 286), and high task/low ego (n = 125). Through a series of multivariate analyses of variance, with post hoc discriminant descriptive analysis, we found a significant main effect for the motivational climate clusters on teamwork behaviors. Athletes in the high-task/low-ego motivational climate cluster endorsed more teamwork behaviors (e.g., preparation, execution) than those in the moderate-task/moderate-ego and low-task/high-ego climate clusters. These findings suggest the importance of coach-created motivational climates in teamwork behaviors.

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Across the Pond: An Exploration of the American Collegiate System as a Pathway for Elite British Female Gymnasts

George H. Franklin, Daniel J. Brown, Emma Vickers, and Grace E. Harrison

The number of elite athletes from the United Kingdom choosing to migrate to the United States is increasing. Grounded in the push–pull framework, this was the first study to exclusively explore the motivations and experiences of elite British female gymnasts who migrated to American universities and competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Data were collected using semistructured interviews with seven former gymnasts and analyzed using thematic analysis. The results document how this pathway provided gymnasts with an opportunity to extend their career in a positive environment, escaping the intense and autocratic culture that dominated gymnastics in Britain. Moreover, this pathway facilitated lasting athletic and personal development including enhanced retirement from the sport. From a practice standpoint, it appears important that gymnasts be educated about the pathways available to them and that British sport organizations be supported in reshaping their environments to create more desirable and sustainable systems.

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Bulletin Board

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Stress and Coping Experiences of U.K. Professional Football Managers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sofie Kent, Tracey Devonport, Rachel Arnold, and Faye Didymus

Guided by transactional stress theory, this study aimed to explore elite U.K. soccer coaches’ perceived stressors, the situational properties, appraisals, and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study also aimed to explore any variation in stress experiences across football league standards A total of 13 professional first-team male U.K. association football coaches between 38 and 59 years of age (M = 43.00, SD = 6.94) participated in telephone (n = 5) or online (n = 8) semistructured interviews. Informed by the philosophical position of critical realism, Braun et al.’s six-phase approach to thematic analysis was used to generate competitive, organizational, and personal stressor themes. Deductive thematic analysis generated themes reflective of all situational properties of stressors identified by Lazarus and Folkman and an array of appraisal and coping strategies. Future research and recommendations for supporting coach performance and well-being post-COVID-19 pandemic are offered.

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Encouraging Togetherness During a National Lockdown: The Influence of Relationship-Oriented Personal-Disclosure Mutual-Sharing on Team Functioning in Academy Soccer Coaches

Harry K. Warburton and Matthew J. Slater

The present study examined the influence of an online relationship-oriented personal-disclosure mutual-sharing (ROPDMS) intervention upon diverse measures of group functioning during a national lockdown. Twelve soccer coaches and one senior member of staff from a professional female soccer academy participated by openly disclosing and sharing unknown personal stories with one another. Social identity dimensions (in-group ties, cognitive centrality, and in-group affect), friendship identity content, social support, self-esteem, and a nonequivalent dependent variable were measured across four time points, while social validation was obtained immediately and 4 weeks after ROPDMS. Quantitative data revealed significant increases for in-group ties, cognitive centrality, and friendship identity content after ROPDMS, while the nonequivalent dependent variable did not significantly change. Qualitative data revealed that the coaching staff felt the session was worthwhile and enhanced aspects of team functioning. Online ROPDMS therefore appears to be a viable team-building method for practitioners seeking to strengthen social identity dimensions and friendship identity content during a national lockdown.