Justine J. Reel and Emily Crouch
Emily R. Hunt and Melissa C. Day
Sports injury research has predominantly focused on acute injuries, often overlooking the complexities that may be associated with chronic injury. Consequently, the aim of the present study was to understand the experiences of individuals who continued to take part in sport with a chronic injury. Using a narrative methodology, 10 athletes who had experienced chronic pain for at least one year took part in interviews which asked them to narrate their story of pain. Results identify the imprisonment narrative used to describe chronic injury and consider that the causes of this “imprisonment” may be both physical and environmental. Further, this study illustrates how athletes have coped with chronic pain, emphasizing the body-self relationship and the difficulties associated with adapted sport. These findings have important implications for practitioners working with injured athletes, emphasizing that the experiences of athletes in chronic pain may differ considerably from those in acute pain.
Melissa G. Hunt, James Rushton, Elyse Shenberger, and Sarah Murayama
This study compared deep diaphragmatic breathing (DB) versus paced breathing and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) on indices of physiological stress reactivity in 76 varsity athletes. Athletes were trained in paced breathing, and then randomized to either DB or PMR, and underwent a cognitive stressor task. DB resulted in significantly higher tidal volume compared to PMR and paced breathing. DB also resulted in lower heart rate than PMR. Finally, DB resulted in significantly higher heart rate variability (HRV) than PMR, but not compared to simple paced breathing. Both groups reported feeling significantly more relaxed after the intervention than after paced breathing. The DB group reported a trend toward greater relaxation than the PMR group. Slow DB is an easy to teach tool that may give athletes an edge on successfully managing stress reactivity, whether they are preparing for a test or for competition.
Brian A. Eiler, Rosemary Al-Kire, Patrick C. Doyle, and Heidi A. Wayment
Employing a natural language processing approach, we analyzed textual content derived from publicly-available athlete victim impact statements (VIS) from the Larry Nassar trial (N = 111) to examine psychosocial responses to sexual violence. To explore potential differences in a non-sports context, we conducted similar analyses on a sample of #MeToo tweets (N = 45,848). Our research focused on the semantic content of VIS, including positive and negative affect, power and trust dynamics, well-being, and post-traumatic growth. We hypothesized that athletes’ reactions to sexual violence would be more likely to contain language related to power and trust. Traditional null-hypothesis significance testing and network analyses were used to identify the psychosocial indicators unique to sexual violence disclosures in a sports context. Results indicated differential use of language related to negative affect, trust, power dynamics, and post-traumatic growth in sports versus non-sports contexts. We discuss clinical, practical, and policy-based implications for risk reduction and intervention.
Gavin Breslin, Stephen Shannon, Kyle Ferguson, Shauna Devlin, Tandy Haughey, and Garry Prentice
Recent evidence suggests that attempts to tackle mental health stigma in athletes should include psychological theory to understand the competitive sport environment. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the aim was to determine what demographic and psychological factors predicted mental health stigma among athletes. Athletes (n = 471) completed a questionnaire, and a multiple linear regression analyses was conducted, specifying demographic (e.g., gender), psychological (e.g., norms) and moderating variables (e.g., sport type) as predictors of stigma-related intentions to socialise with individuals who are living with a mental health condition. TRA models explained a significant amount of variance for intentions, in which knowledge about and exposure to individuals with mental health conditions significantly predicted better intentions. Further, athletes competing in team sports, particularly females, had stronger intentions. This was the first study to explore mental health stigma using the TRA. Findings can inform the development of mental health awareness programs for athletes.
Martin J. Turner, Stuart Carrington, and Anthony Miller
It is not fully understood the extent to which cognitive mediators are involved in the transaction between the athletic environment and athlete mental health. Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) holds that primary irrational beliefs lead to psychological distress through secondary irrational beliefs. Therefore this study examined the mediational effects of primary and secondary irrational beliefs on psychological distress across three sport participation groups; non-sport participants, recreational sport participants, and elite athletes. This study also examined the differences in irrational beliefs and psychological distress between individual and team sport participants, between females and males, and across the three sport participation groups. Data revealed that secondary irrational beliefs mediated the relationships between primary irrational beliefs and psychological distress. Between-groups analyses revealed that elite athletes demonstrated smallest depreciation irrational beliefs, and elite female athletes reported greater depression symptoms than elite male athletes. The implications of the findings for research and applied work are discussed.
Melissa L. Breger, Margery J. Holman, and Michelle D. Guerrero
Traditional sport norms and gender-based biases that are prevalent in the sport environment, both explicit and implicit, have contributed to a culture where sexual harassment and abuse is commonplace. This article examines how sport tolerates the development of this culture, and more importantly, how practices and polices can be utilized to transform sport’s culture to one that is inclusive and safe. Reform is needed in attitudes and norms towards gender bias and sexual violence that primarily, but not exclusively, targets girls and women in sport and is perpetrated by boys and men. The application of various theories from psychology is recommended as one strategy to rid sport of both a culture of misogyny and of those who resist change to achieve this objective.
Sofie Kent, Kieran Kingston, and Kyle F. Paradis
Athlete burnout symptoms are detrimental to athlete well-being. Obsessive passion has been identified as an antecedent of athlete burnout, with basic psychological need satisfaction potentially mediating this process. The aim of the current research was to extend on previous work and examine whether the relationship between passion and athlete burnout was mediated by psychological need satisfaction in a heterogeneous sample. Participants were 120 competitive athletes (M age = 22.04, SD = 5.83) from 21 different sports. Each participant completed the Passion Scale, Basic Psychological Needs in Sport Scale, and the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire. Multiple regression and bootstrapping procedures were used to analyze the data. Passion (harmonious and obsessive) was found to share a significant relationship with sport devaluation but shared no significant relationship with emotional and physical exhaustion and reduced sense of accomplishment. Bootstrapping results suggested that the basic psychological need of autonomy was the only significant mediating variable in the relationship between passion (harmonious and obsessive) and burnout (sport devaluation). Potential antecedents and consequences of athlete burnout, alongside applied and conceptual implications are discussed.
Pooja Somasundaram and Alexandra M. Burgess
Perfectionism functions as a transdiagnostic risk factor for a variety of negative mental health outcomes, including eating disorders. Female athletes are believed to be especially vulnerable to eating pathology and some aspects of perfectionism. However, it is unknown whether perfectionism functions similarly as a risk factor in athlete and non-athlete groups with regards to negative eating behaviors and body attitudes. The present study assessed the moderating effect of athletic involvement on the relationship between dimensions of perfectionism and disordered eating symptomology among collegiate women competing at an amateur level. Female undergraduates (N = 478) were categorized into the following subgroups based on athlete status: aesthetic sport athletes, team/individual sport athletes, and non-athletes. Results indicated that levels of perfectionism and disordered eating symptomology did not differ between groups. However, both athletic involvement as a whole and type of sport played each moderated the relationship between dimensions of perfectionism and disordered eating, demonstrating that continued efforts to educate collegiate women about healthy eating and exercise behavior are still of critical importance for their overall well-being.
Kendahl Shortway, Marina Oganesova, and Andrew Vincent
Sexual assault is highly prevalent among the population of college students, which includes student-athletes. The context of athletics introduces unique risk factors related to alcohol consumption and aspects of sport culture, opportunities for prevention, and ethical considerations and consequences of disclosing and reporting sexual assault. Sport psychology practitioners are closely connected to athletes, and they can potentially serve an important and influential role in prevention and response to sexual assault. In this article, we review literature on sexual assault in college, highlight relevant aspects of the athletic context, summarize legislation and ethical considerations pertinent to sexual assault reporting, and provide practical recommendations for sport psychology practitioners so that they may contribute to preventative efforts and better serve student-athletes who are victims and survivors of sexual assault.