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Exploring the Athletic Identity, Anxiety, and Mental Health of Division II Collegiate Athletes in the COVID-19 Era

Justin A. Hebert and Aubrey Newland

The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications on the health and well-being of student-athletes. The present study explored the athletic experiences of NCAA Division II college athletes during the competitive hiatus caused by the pandemic, as well as in their return to sport participation. Twenty male and female student-athletes from a variety of sports (freshman = 2, sophomores = 4, seniors = 9, and graduate = 5) participated in semistructured interviews to explore how the pandemic affected their athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health. Through the use of thematic content analysis, the following major themes were identified: (a) influence of COVID on athletic identity, (b) increased anxiety during COVID, (c) social aspects of sport participation, and (d) factors that influence mental health. Findings indicated a combination of positive and negative effects on the athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health and well-being of student-athletes.

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Mental Health Literacy Intervention to Reduce Stigma Toward Mental Health Symptoms and Disorders in Women Rugby Players: A Feasibility Study

Shakiba Oftadeh-Moghadam, Neil Weston, and Paul Gorczynski

This feasibility study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention on stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions among U.K. semielite women rugby players. Seven semielite women rugby players participated. An A-B-A single-case experimental research design was used to assess stigma toward mental health symptoms and disorders, mental health literacy, and help-seeking intentions at baseline, intervention, and follow-up phases. The intervention was successful in enhancing the players’ mental health literacy and reducing stigmatizing attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Acknowledging the study’s small sample size, the findings revealed that there is a need for scaffolding to support future developments, advancements, and maintenance of mental health support in women’s rugby. Practical implications of future findings from a larger-scale study may lead to policy reformation across the game to inform and improve systemic mental health support for women rugby players.

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Bulletin Board

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A Novel Exploration of Occupational Recovery in Certified Mental Performance Consultants

Anthony Magdaleno and Barbara B. Meyer

Researchers have provided evidence that workplace demands impair professionals’ health and performance, while occupational recovery facilitates them. Sport psychology professionals experience workplace demands (e.g., organizational stressors) and must manage their health and performance to consistently deliver competent, ethical, and effective services. Therefore, the purpose of this novel study was to explore the prevalence of, and relationship between, perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery (i.e., recovery experiences, off-job activities) in certified mental performance consultants (CMPCs). A sample of 140 CMPCs completed measures of perceived stress and psychological aspects of occupational recovery. Results indicated that psychological aspects of occupational recovery significantly predicted perceived stress. Practical implications to reduce CMPCs’ perceived stress include the promotion of occupational recovery through prioritization of activities positively related to recovery experiences.

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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.