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“Bouncing Back” from Adversity: Athletes’ Experiences of Resilience

Nick Galli and Robin S. Vealey

The purpose of this study was to explore athletes’ perceptions and experiences of resilience. Ten high-level athletes were interviewed regarding the most difficult adversities that they had ever had to overcome in sport. Richardson and colleagues’ (Richardson, Neiger, Jensen, & Kumpfer, 1990) resiliency model served as a guiding theoretical framework in the process of data collection and analysis. Inductive analysis (Patton, 2002; Thomas, 2006) was used to explore the data for key themes and patterns of relationships. Five general dimensions emerged that described the resilience experience of the athletes. These dimensions include breadth and duration, agitation, sociocultural influences, personal resources, and positive outcomes. A conceptual model of the resilience process as experienced by the athletes in this study is presented as a preliminary framework for future studies of resilience in sport.

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Effects of Self-Handicapping Strategies on Anxiety before Athletic Performance

Guillaume R. Coudevylle, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Jean-Pierre Famose, and Christophe Gernigon

The purpose of the present experiment was to examine whether the use of selfhandicapping strategies influences participants’ anxiety levels before athletic performance. Seventy-one competitive basketball players participated in the study. A repeated measures design was used, such that state cognitive and somatic anxiety intensity and direction were measured before and after participants were given the opportunity to self-handicap. Overall, participants reported their cognitive anxiety to be more facilitating after they had the opportunity to self-handicap. Thus, participants who were given the opportunity to self-handicap (i.e., use claimed and behavioral self-handicaps), reported greater increases in perceptions of cognitive anxiety as facilitating their performance. This study shows the importance of looking at anxiety direction, and not just anxiety intensity, when examining self-handicapping’s effects on anxiety. Implications for sport psychologists are proposed.

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An Exploratory Examination into the Effect of Absence Due to Hypothetical Injury on Collective Efficacy

Gregory C. Damato, J. Robert Grove, Robert C. Eklund, and Scott Cresswell

The effect of hypothetical injuries to pivotal and nonpivotal players on collective efficacy perceptions was studied in this exploratory investigation. A collective efficacy inventory was given to male soccer players (N = 194) from 12 semiprofessional teams, as well as a hypothetical scenario describing an injury to a pivotal or less pivotal player. Based on the PFA, the collective efficacy inventory was determined to have two factors: perseverance collective efficacy (PCE) and skills (physical) collective efficacy (SCE). Both PCE and SCE were subsequently analyzed to determine if the hypothesized loss of a player influenced such perceptions. Findings indicated that following the injury scenario, PCE perceptions only, significantly decreased following the loss of either player. PCE appears to be readily affected by player loss, whereas the results for SCE were more ambivalent. Future research, implications and limitations are discussed in detail.

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High Altitude Climbers as Ethnomethodologists Making Sense of Cognitive Dissonance: Ethnographic Insights from an Attempt to Scale Mt. Everest

Shaunna M. Burke, Andrew C. Sparkes, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

This ethnographic study examined how a group of high altitude climbers (N = 6) drew on ethnomethodological principles (the documentary method of interpretation, reflexivity, indexicality, and membership) to interpret their experiences of cognitive dissonance during an attempt to scale Mt. Everest. Data were collected via participant observation, interviews, and a field diary. Each data source was subjected to a content mode of analysis. Results revealed how cognitive dissonance reduction is accomplished from within the interaction between a pattern of self-justification and self-inconsistencies; how the reflexive nature of cognitive dissonance is experienced; how specific features of the setting are inextricably linked to the cognitive dissonance experience; and how climbers draw upon a shared stock of knowledge in their experiences with cognitive dissonance.

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Is What You Think What You Get? Optimizing Mental Focus for Technical Performance

Alan MacPherson, Dave Collins, and Calvin Morriss

This article considers interesting differences between the mental focus employed by an elite athlete javelin thrower (E1) when contrasted with three international standard javelin throwers (I1, I2, I3). Athletes’ mental focus was recorded in both competition and training using self-report measures. In addition, kinematic analysis through point of release was examined for both categories of athlete. In both conditions, E1 demonstrated lower patterns of movement variability. Interestingly, a contrasting mental focus was recorded among athletes I1, I2, and I3 when compared with athlete E1. Tentative conclusions are drawn concerning the optimum sources of information for athletes before task execution in self-paced athletic events.

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What Works When Working with Athletes

Angela Fifer, Keith Henschen, Daniel Gould, and Kenneth Ravizza

A highly effective method for disseminating knowledge is to observe the most experienced individuals in the field of interest. Although business, teaching, and coaching have been mentoring and apprenticing students for years, the field of applied sport psychology does not have a long formal history of doing so. The purpose of this article is to capture and present the thoughts, theories, and techniques employed by highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants to formally record what they believe “works when working with athletes.” General topics discussed include: gaining entry, techniques of assessment, delivery of information, and approaches for preparing athletes for “major competitions.” Common ideas and practical guidelines are summarized from the authors and discussed in light of current scientific and professional practice knowledge in the field. These consultants do not claim they have all the answers, but rather share their experiences in hopes of providing ideas and facilitating self-reflection concerning consulting effectiveness on the part of the reader.

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Volume 22 (2008): Issue 2 (Jun 2008)

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“Amplification of Error”: A Rapidly Effective Method for Motor Performance Improvement

Chiara Milanese, Gabriella Facci, Paola Cesari, and Carlo Zancanaro

The aim of the current work was to test the effects of an innovative teaching method in improving motor skills. We evaluated the effectiveness of an error-based instruction method (Method of Amplification of Error, MAE) in increasing the performance of 13-year-old school students in the standing long jump. We compared MAE with direct verbal instruction (DI) and no instruction (Control group). The rationale for the MAE method is that giving a participant the opportunity to experience directly his or her own main movement error will trigger a positive searching strategy that will in turn help him or her to improve performance. The effectiveness of MAE is because of the type of feedback provided, namely the same motor-perceptive language used by the participant. Results showed that for the MAE and DI groups the length of jump increased from pre- to post-instruction, but postinstruction performance of the MAE group was significantly that of both of the other groups. It appears that MAE is an easy-to-use method for rapidly improving motor performance in the school teaching setting.

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Effective Coaching in Action: Observations of Legendary Collegiate Basketball Coach Pat Summitt

Andrea J. Becker and Craig A. Wrisberg

The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the practice behaviors of Pat Summitt, the winningest collegiate basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. Throughout the 2004–05 season, Summitt’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors were video recorded during six practices. A total of 3,296 behaviors were observed and coded using the Arizona State University Observation Instrument (Lacy & Darst, 1984). Results indicated that 55% (n = 1810) of Summitt’s behaviors were directed toward the team, whereas 45% (n = 1,486) were directed toward individual players. The most frequent behavior was instruction (48%, n = 1,586) followed by praise (14.5%, n = 478) and hustle (10.7%, n = 351). Contrary to predictions, no differences were found in the quantity or quality of the coaching behaviors that Summitt directed toward high and low expectancy players.

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In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training (4th Ed.)

Traci Statler