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“It’s Not My Fault; It’s Not Serious”: Athlete Accounts of Moral Disengagement in Competitive Sport

Karine Corrion, Thierry Long, Alan L. Smith, and Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

This study was designed to assess athletes’ use of moral disengagement in competitive sport. We conducted semistructured interviews with 24 elite male and female athletes in basketball and taekwondo. Participants described transgressive behaviors in competitive situations and reasons for adopting such behaviors. Content analyses revealed that the eight moral disengagement mechanisms identified in everyday Life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, euphemistic labeling, minimizing or ignoring consequences, attribution of blame, dehumanization, displacement of responsibility, and diffusion of responsibility; Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996) were germane in sport. However, the most frequently adopted mechanisms in sport (i.e., displacement and diffusion of responsibility, attribution of blame, minimizing or ignoring consequences, and euphemistic labeling) differed somewhat from those considered most salient in everyday life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, and euphemistic labeling). Moral disengagement mechanisms linked to projecting fault onto others (“It’s not my fault”) and minimization of transgressions and their consequences (“It’s not serious”) appear to be especially prominent in sport. The findings extend the sport moral disengagement literature by showcasing athlete accounts of moral disengagement.

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Naturalistic Observations of Spectator Behavior at Youth Hockey Games

Anne Bowker, Belinda Boekhoven, Amanda Nolan, Stephanie Bauhaus, Paul Glover, Tamara Powell, and Shannon Taylor

The purpose of the current study was to conduct an examination of spectator (i.e., parental) behavior at youth hockey games in a large Canadian city. Using naturalistic observation methods, an event sampling procedure was used to code spectators’ comments. Of specific interest were the type of remarks made, who made them (i.e., males versus females), the intensity of those remarks and whether they varied by child age, gender, and competitive level. We were also interested in whether the majority of onlookers’ comments were actually directed at the players, on-ice officials, or fellow spectators. Five observers attended 69 hockey games during the 2006–2007 hockey season. There was a significant variability in the number of comments made, with an average of 105 comments per game. The majority of the comments were generally positive ones, directed at the players. Negative comments, although quite infrequent, were directed largely at the referees. Females made more comments than did males, although males made more negative and corrective comments, and females made mostly positive comments. Comments varied significantly as a function of gender and competitive level. Proportionally more negative comments were made at competitive, as opposed to recreational games. An interaction was found for female spectators as their comments varied as a function of both the competitive level and the gender of the players. Results of this study are in direct contrast to media reports of extreme parental violence at youth hockey games, and provide unique information about the role of parental involvement at youth sporting events.

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Perceptions of Cohesion by Youth Sport Participants

Mark A. Eys, Todd M. Loughead, Steven R. Bray, and Albert V. Carron

Cohesion is an important small group variable within sport. However, the conceptualization and examination of cohesion have predominately been oriented toward adult populations. The purpose of the current study was to garner an understanding of what cohesion means to youth sport participants. Fifty-six team sport athletes (Mage = 15.63 ± 1.01 years) from two secondary schools took part in focus groups designed to understand participants’ perceptions of (a) the definition of cohesion and indicators of cohesive and noncohesive groups and (b) methods used to attempt to develop cohesion in their groups. Overall, the responses to part (a) yielded 10 categories reflecting a group’s task cohesion and 7 categories reflecting a group’s social cohesion. Finally, participants highlighted eight general methods through which their groups developed cohesion. Results are discussed in relation to a current conceptualization of cohesion and affiliation considerations within a youth sport environment.

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The Psychology of Achieving Sports Excellence: A Self Help Guide for Athletes

Tim Herzog

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Why Some Make It and Others Do Not: Identifying Psychological Factors That Predict Career Success in Professional Adult Soccer

Nico W. Van Yperen

This prospective study was designed to identify psychological factors that predict career success in professional adult soccer. Post hoc, two groups were distinguished: (1) Male soccer players who successfully progressed into professional adult soccer (n = 18) and (2) Male soccer players who did not reach this level (n = 47). Differences between the two groups were examined on the basis of data gathered in the initial phase of their careers, 15 years earlier. The psychological factors that predicted career success while statistically controlling for initial performance level and demographic variables were goal commitment, engagement in problem-focused coping behaviors, and social support seeking. On the basis of their scores on the significant predictor and control variables, 84.6% of the adolescent youth players were classified correctly as successful or unsuccessful.

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Women Coaches’ Perceptions of Their Sport Organizations’ Social Environment: Supporting Coaches’ Psychological Needs?

Justine B. Allen and Sally Shaw

Researchers have argued that coaches are performers in their own right and that their psychological needs should be considered (Giges, Petitpas, & Vernacchia, 2004; Gould, Greenleaf, Guinan, & Chung, 2002). The purpose of this research was to examine high performance women coaches’ perceptions of their sport organizations’ social context, with specific attention to psychological need support. Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2002) was employed to frame the examination of the coaches’ experiences. Eight high performance women coaches from two sport organizations participated in semistructured interviews. All reported autonomy and competence development opportunities. Organizational relatedness was critical to the experience of a supportive environment. The findings provide insight into the “world of coaching” from the coaches’ perspective.

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Volume 23 (2009): Issue 2 (Jun 2009)

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Athlete Engagement in Elite Sport: An Exploratory Investigation of Antecedents and Consequences

Ken Hodge, Chris Lonsdale, and Susan A. Jackson

In this exploratory study, we examined hypothesized antecedents (basic psychological needs) and consequences (dispositional flow) of athlete engagement (AE); plus the extent to which AE mediated the relationship between basic needs and flow. Structural equation modeling with a sample of 201 elite Canadian athletes (60.20% female, mean age = 22.92 years) showed that needs satisfaction (particularly competence & autonomy) predicted athlete engagement (30% explained variance); and needs satisfaction and athlete engagement predicted dispositional flow (68% explained variance). AE partially mediated the relationship between needs satisfaction and flow. Practical suggestions are offered for needs-supportive coaching programs designed to increase both AE and flow.

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Automatic Self-Talk Questionnaire for Sports (ASTQS): Development and Preliminary Validation of a Measure Identifying the Structure of Athletes’ Self-Talk

Nikos Zourbanos, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Stiliani Chroni, Yannis Theodorakis, and Athanasios Papaioannou

The aim of the present investigation was to develop an instrument assessing the content and the structure of athletes’ self-talk. The study was conducted in three stages. In the first stage, a large pool of items was generated and content analysis was used to organize the items into categories. Furthermore, item-content relevance analysis was conducted to help identifying the most appropriate items. In Stage 2, the factor structure of the instrument was examined by a series of exploratory factor analyses (Sample A: N = 507), whereas in Stage 3 the results of the exploratory factor analysis were retested through confirmatory factor analyses (Sample B: N = 766) and at the same time concurrent validity were assessed. The analyses revealed eight factors, four positive (psych up, confidence, anxiety control and instruction), three negative (worry, disengagement and somatic fatigue) and one neutral (irrelevant thoughts). The findings of the study provide evidence regarding the multidimensionality of self-talk, suggesting that ASTQS seems a psychometrically sound instrument that could help us developing cognitive-behavioral theories and interventions to examine and modify athletes’ self-talk.

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The Coach-Athlete Relationship: A Tripartite Efficacy Perspective

Ben Jackson, Peter Knapp, and Mark R. Beauchamp

The purpose of the current study was to identify putative antecedents and consequences associated with self-efficacy, other-efficacy, and relation-inferred self-efficacy, within the context of elite coach-athlete dyads. Semistructured interviews were conducted with each member of six international-level coach-athlete partnerships, and data were analyzed using inductive and deductive content analytic techniques. Results for both athletes and coaches demonstrated that the above ‘tripartite efficacy beliefs’ (cf. Lent & Lopez, 2002) were identified as originating from perceptions regarding oneself, inferences regarding the ‘other’ dyad member (e.g., the athlete’s coach), as well as the dyad as a whole. Results also revealed that the tripartite efficacy constructs were interrelated, and independently associated with a number of positive task-related and relationship-oriented consequences. Findings are considered in relation to developing and sustaining effective coach-athlete relationships at the elite level.