In preparation for the 2020–2024 Olympic cycle, members of the USA Track and Field sport psychology (SP) subcommittee investigated the SP service provision needs and preferences of 88 elite Olympic-level athletes. A mixed-methods needs analysis was employed, which consisted of surveys, interviews, and a focus group, to help understand current SP usage and shape future SP services for USA Track and Field. Findings highlighted a lack of knowledge and exposure to SP services and a desire for increased contact with SP professionals among athletes, exposing gaps and room for improvement in service delivery. Athletes cited flexibility in terms of service delivery mode and shared common core preferences for mental training, including help managing stress, pressure, emotions, and other challenges of competition and training. The results are discussed in relation to strengthening the effectiveness of service provision through increasing visibility, accessibility, and education regarding the benefits of SP services.
Lennie Waite, Chris Stanley, Brian Zuleger, and Anne Shadle
Christopher Maechel, Todd M. Loughead, V. Vanessa Wergin, Tom Kossak, and Jürgen Beckmann
Shared leadership is an emergent team phenomenon, emphasizing that it originates from the interaction of all team members. However, previous athlete leadership studies have focused on the individual level, omitting the role of team member interaction. In order to develop shared athlete leadership as an emergent team phenomenon, we utilized a solution-focused brief therapy paradigm, which uses coconstruction to engender change for social systems (e.g., sport teams). Sixty athletes from six sport teams (three in the experimental condition and three in the control condition) participated in a mixed-methods experimental design consisting of parallel quantitative and qualitative data collection along with a combined interpretation of these data. The quantitative results support a difference in development of shared leadership between groups, while the qualitative analysis resulted in four themes that indicate changes in interactional patterns and relational structures within the teams.
Jamie Taylor, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank
Feedback from coaches and other stakeholders is well established as having a significant impact on the development of performance. This study investigated perceptions of the feedback process and the sense-making of athletes transitioning to elite sport. Specifically, the aims were to (a) investigate the number of feedback providers young players reported through their talent development journey, (b) understand the degree of coherence that players perceived from this feedback, and (c) explore the sense-making process of individual players by understanding their decision criteria. The findings suggest that pathway athletes were offered an excess of feedback from multiple sources, often incoherently. Yet, players lacked an appropriate sense-making process to appreciate, critically reflect on, and apply feedback. Given the implications for talent development, we offer suggestions for the coach and system to optimize feedback processes and develop gourmet consumers.
Daniel R.F. Martin, Alessandro Quartiroli, and Christopher R.D. Wagstaff
Scholars have noted the importance of helping professionals’ work experiences through the exploration of Professional Quality of Life. Due to the unique experiences of sport psychology professionals, a sport psychology specific equivalent of the construct, the Sport Psychology Professional Quality of Life (SP-PQL), has recently been developed based on the experience of senior and experienced sport psychology professionals, yet researchers have not accounted for the experiences of neophytes. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 neophyte sport psychology professionals with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of how they conceptualize, experience, and manage their SP-PQL. The data offer novel insights regarding neophyte’s conceptualizations of SP-PQL as well as the barriers and facilitators toward their SP-PQL. We conclude that greater emphasis on SP-PQL is required within British sport psychology development pathways, outlining considerations for educators, such as the provision of educational resources and curricula to better inform and support future neophyte’s SP-PQL.
Tim Woodman and Charlotte Welch
Individuals high in alexithymia use high-risk sport to regulate their anxiety. Given the conceptual similarities between arduous high-risk sports and extreme endurance running, we investigated the relationship between alexithymia and the anxiolytic effects of endurance running. We measured marathon and ultramarathon runners (n = 35) on alexithymia, and pre- and postrace anxiety. Bootstrapped regression analyses using MEMORE revealed that alexithymia moderated the relationship between pre- and postrace anxiety such that there was a significant anxiety reduction for individuals high in alexithymia only. In conclusion, extreme endurance running provides an emotion regulation function for individuals high in alexithymia. The modest sample size points to the need for replication and further exploration.
Darren J. Devaney, Mark Stephen Nesti, Noora J. Ronkainen, Martin A. Littlewood, and David Richardson
This study aims to highlight how an existential-humanistic perspective can inform athlete support and in doing so, emphasize the importance of explicating the philosophical underpinnings of athlete lifestyle support. Drawing on applied experience with elite youth cricketers over a 12-month period, ethnographic data were collected through the observation, maintenance of case notes, and a practitioner reflective diary. Based on thematic analysis, we created three nonfictional vignettes that we use to illustrate how existential-humanistic theorizing can inform lifestyle support. We discuss the implications of this professional philosophy in terms of considerations for performance and talent development programs, and how holistic support for athletes is positioned. We also discuss implications for athlete lifestyle and performance psychology practitioners, with regard to training, underpinning theoretical grounding of support and the strategic positioning of their practitioner roles.
Zachary A. Soulliard, Hannah F. Fitterman-Harris, Joanne E. Perry, Lindsey M. Poe, and Michael J. Ross
The present study examined differences in body appreciation and functionality appreciation between student-athletes and nonathletes. Additionally, the present study assessed differences in these constructs among female and male athletes outside of their sport and directly following participation in their sport. Seventy-five student-athletes and 211 nonathletes from a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I university completed online measures, including the State-Based Body Appreciation Scale and Functionality Appreciation Scale. Student-athletes completed the same measures following a sport practice. Student-athletes reported higher levels of body appreciation and functionality appreciation compared to nonathletes. No differences in body appreciation were found among student-athletes outside of their sport compared to directly following participation in their sport; however, student-athletes reported higher levels of functionality appreciation after their sport practice. Implications for coaches and athletic staff are discussed, including placing a greater emphasis on body functionality rather than specific body ideals.
Rebecca M. Steins, Gordon Bloom, and Jeffrey Caron
Concussions result in a multitude of somatic, cognitive, and/or emotional symptoms as well as physical and behavior changes and disturbances in balance, cognition, and sleep. Moreover, some concussed athletes can experience these symptoms, changes, and disturbances for extended periods of time. This qualitative study explored the coping skills used by five female university athletes who suffered persistent concussion symptoms for more than 6 weeks. Our analysis of the interview data indicated that the athletes used emotion-focused coping strategies, such as avoidance and acceptance, throughout their recovery. In addition, the lack of perceived control over their injuries, a lack of a symptom-specific treatment protocol, and the type of social support they received influenced their coping abilities. These results add to the limited, yet growing, body of literature on the psychology of sport-related concussions, particularly with respect to identifying the types of resources that athletes may use to cope and manage concussion symptoms.