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Amanda Martindale and Dave Collins

The article “What works when working with athletes” by Fifer, Henschen, Gould, and Ravizza (2008) offers an interesting array of information and insights used by three highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants. This response article, however, contends that it may be possible to glean a further, and crucial, level of understanding by exploring the metacognition behind the selection of such courses of action. This may be provided through applied cognitive task analysis (ACTA) techniques to access the cognitive mechanisms underpinning professional practice. A suggested research direction is to use ACTA techniques such as in-depth interviews and cognitive mapping with highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants. Specifically, these techniques would enable readers to access judgments and decisions, attentional demands, critical cues and patterns, and problem solving strategies (Gore & McAndrew, 2009). This level of understanding may help to establish how these cognitive processes impact on the support provided to clients, and in turn, assist in developing more conceptually rigorous training methods.

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Pete Lindsay, Owen Thomas, and Gemma Douglas

Metaphors are pervasive in everyday language, thoughts and actions (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). The field of sport psychology, and more explicitly practitioner-client dialogue, remain exposed to such communication. Despite the prevalence of metaphor in our daily interactions, metaphorical discourse is often ignored, or unknowingly used in therapeutic settings (Jinks, 2006). However, noticing a client’s use of metaphor may provide an opportunity to work within the athlete’s metaphorical landscape (i.e., the sum total of their symbolic perceptions, Lawley & Tomkins, 2000) to facilitate therapeutic change (Kopp, 1995). Based upon established mainstream approaches, the present article proposes a composite framework for working with client generated metaphors in sport psychology practice (cf. Kopp, 1995; Lawley & Tomkins, 2000; Sims, 2003). The framework is contextualized through an exploration of case examples derived from the authors’ experiences of working within the metaphorical landscape of a series of clients. The article concludes with various implications for the work and training of applied sport psychologists.

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David Tod and Katherine Bond

A consultant in private practice, Anna, was followed over 2 years to observe ways her service delivery perceptions and practices changed after completing her academic education. Anna was interviewed three times with each interview being transcribed verbatim with ensuing transcripts thematically content analyzed. Over the two years, Anna experienced increasing coherence between her broadening theoretical orientation and service delivery practices. Anna’s service delivery became more client-led and focused on long-term growth rather than short-term problem fixing. Decreasing anxiety and increasing confidence in her competence, along with experimentation influenced the changes Anna experienced. Anna’s story provides insights for sport psychologist training, such as the value of experiential learning through client contact, personal therapy, and supervision groups.

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Andrew P. Hill, Howard K. Hall, Paul R. Appleton, and Jemma J. Murray

Recent research suggests that validation-seeking and dimensions of perfectionism may be antecedents of athlete burnout. The present investigation examined whether validation and growth-seeking mediate the relationship between self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism and burnout. One-hundred and fifty canoe polo and kayak slalom athletes recruited from the top two divisions in the UK completed measures of validation and growth-seeking (GOI), perfectionism (HMPS), and athlete burnout (ABQ). Analyses supported the mediating role of validation-seeking in the relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and burnout. However, while bivariate correlations indicated that self-oriented perfectionism was positively related to both validation and growth-seeking, neither mediated the self-oriented perfectionism-burnout relationship. The findings suggest that validation-seeking may be an important psychological factor in the development of burnout for athletes exhibiting high levels of socially prescribed perfectionism. The relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and athlete burnout remains unclear because of its association with multiple motives and with socially prescribed perfectionism.

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Áine MacNamara, Angela Button, and Dave Collins

Given the complexity of the talent development process, it seems likely that a range of psychological factors underpin an athlete’s ability to translate potential into top-class performance. Therefore, the purpose of part one of this two-part investigation was to explore the attributes that facilitate the successful development of athletes from initial involvement to achieving and maintaining world-class status. Seven elite athletes and a parent of each of these athletes were interviewed regarding their own (their son’s/daughter’s) development in sport. Data were content analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Although sporting achievement was conceptualized as being multidimensional, psychological factors were highlighted as the key determinants of those who emerged as talented and maintained excellence. Accordingly, we suggest that talent identification and development programs should place greater emphasis on the advancement and application of psychological behaviors at an early stage to optimize both the development and performance of athletes.

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Áine MacNamara, Angela Button, and Dave Collins

MacNamara, Button, & Collins (under review) proposed that if individuals are to fulfill their potential they must possess and systematically develop a specific set of skills (termed Psychological Characteristics of Developing Excellence or PCDEs) that allow them to interact effectively with the developmental opportunities they are afforded. Given the complexity of the developmental pathway, it may well be that different skills are needed at different stages of development and across different performance domains. Twenty-four elite participants from team sports, individual sports, and music were purposefully sampled from different domains and interviewed on their experiences of their own pathways to excellence. Results suggested that although PCDEs were important throughout development, the manner by which they were deployed depended on stage, domain, and the characteristics of the individual performer. These findings support proposals to systematically incorporate PCDEs into TID practices because these may be the key feature in maintaining progress toward excellence.

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Amanda M. Rymal, Rose Martini, and Diane M. Ste-Marie

Self-modeling involves the observation of oneself on an edited videotape to show a desired performance (Dowrick & Dove, 1980). While research has investigated the effects of self-modeling on physical performance and psychological mechanisms in relation to skill acquisition (e.g., Clark & Ste-Marie, 2007), no research to date has used a qualitative approach to examine the thought processes athletes engage in during the viewing of a self-modeling video in a competitive sport environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the self-regulatory processes of ten divers who viewed a self-modeling video during competitions. After competition, the divers were asked four questions relating to the self-modeling video. Zimmerman’s (2000) self-regulation framework was adopted for deductive analysis of the responses to those questions. The results indicated that a number of self-regulatory processes were employed, and they were mainly those in the forethought (75%) and self-reflection (25%) phases of Zimmerman’s model. Directions for future research in self-regulation and self-modeling are discussed.

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James Hardy, Ross Roberts, and Lew Hardy

This study examined the effectiveness of a logbook and paperclip technique on awareness of the use and content of negative self-talk as well as the motivation to change negative self-talk. Participants (n = 73) completed a questionnaire measuring these variables, and were assigned to either a control, paperclip or logbook group. Participants performed three typical training sessions over a three-week period. The logbook group completed a self-talk logbook after each session whereas the paperclip group carried out a paperclip exercise during each session. Upon completion of the training sessions, the questionnaire was readministered. ANCOVAs revealed no significant differences between the groups for motivation to change and awareness of the content of negative self-talk. However, the logbook group had significantly greater awareness of their use of negative self-talk compared with the control group. A qualitative analysis of the logbook group’s use of negative self-talk provided insights into the situations that prompted negative self-talk, the content of the self-talk, and also the consequences of using negative self-talk. Collectively, the findings offer some support for the use of the logbook technique in the applied setting.