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Career Assistance to a Team in Crisis-Transition: An Intervention Case Study in Swedish Elite Handball

Johan Ekengren, Natalia Stambulova, Urban Johnson, Andreas Ivarsson, and Robert J. Schinke

In this paper, the authors share how a career assistance program was developed, implemented, and evaluated with a Swedish elite handball team. Within this case study, the initial version of the career assistance program’s content was created based on the career-long psychological support services in a Swedish handball framework and the first author’s applied experiences. During implementation, the head coach was terminated unexpectedly, and the team appeared in a crisis. This transitional situation led to modification of the career assistance program to help the players cope with changes. Eighteen players took part in eight workshops dealing with various aspects of their sport and nonsport life (e.g., performance, training, lifestyle, recovery, and future planning) with crisis-related issues (e.g., coping with uncertainty) incorporated. Mixed-methods evaluation revealed the players’ perceived increase in personal resources (awareness and skills) and decrease in stress and fatigue. Reflections on working in applied sport psychology from a holistic perspective in a dynamic real-life setting are provided.

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Volume 5 (2021): Issue 1 (Jan 2021)

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A Case Study to Overcome Barriers and Enhance Motivations Through Experience of a Variety of Exercises: Theory-Based Intervention on an Overweight and Physically Inactive Adult

Heon Jin Kang, Chee Keng John Wang, and Stephen Francis Burns

A 5-month exercise intervention using self-determination theory was conducted for a physically inactive male adult with a body mass index >25 kg/m2 to overcome perceived exercise barriers and increase autonomous motivation to exercise through a variety of exercise programs. The participant underwent three different forms of exercise programs: trainer guided, self-guided via YouTube channels, and accustomed exercises for 3 hr weekly. The participant completed a questionnaire and body mass index measurement at baseline and during the second, fourth, and fifth months of intervention and kept an exercise log throughout the 5 months. Consultations were conducted during the second and fourth months. At the end of the program, a semistructured interview was conducted. The data showed that psychological needs satisfaction, autonomous motivation, and exercise behavior had improved, while perceived barriers had decreased. This case study provides insight into how a theory-based intervention could effectively promote exercise behavior by targeting psychological factors.

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“Caught in the Headlights”: A Reflective Account of the Challenges Faced by a Neophyte Practitioner Working With a National Squad

Barnaby Wren, Christopher R.D. Wagstaff, and Alessandro Quartiroli

This article provides a neophyte practitioner’s account of providing psychological support to a national team for the first time. The practitioner felt “caught in the headlights” due to his lack of preparation for the range of organizational issues he encountered. In this confessional tale, experiential knowledge gained by the practitioner is shared through the presentation of self-reflections from the 6-month period when he supported the squad. While the practitioner’s time with this national squad was limited, it gave him a sense of the micropolitical landscape of the sporting organization and illuminated some of the complexities and dilemmas that characterize applied sport psychology practice. These reflections are offered to guide other aspiring professionals during their initial training experiences.

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Combining Sport and Study in High School: An Insight Into a Dual Career Environment in Estonia

Kristel Kiens and Carsten H. Larsen

Although dual career research has received growing attention, there is a lack of research specifically focusing on whole dual career development environments (DCDEs). The overall aim of this study was to provide a thorough insight into a DCDE with two main objectives, as follows: (a) provide a holistic description of a DCDE and connections within the environment and (b) examine factors influencing the environment’s success in supporting student-athletes’ development. The data analysis and collection were guided by recently developed DCDE and dual career environment’s success factors (DC-ESF) models. The data were gathered from multiple perspectives via interviews, informal discussions, and observations to analyze a real-life setting and its everyday processes. The authors found that the school’s dual career philosophy was aimed toward supporting holistic growth development via communication, feedback, and flexibility. The main success factors contributing to the environment’s success were placing importance on effort and task-related focus in everyday activities, being flexible, reinforcing openness, and developing responsibility in student-athletes. Furthermore, providing a systematic daily schedule, establishing systematic information sharing, and organizing a variety of school events contributed to the development of planning, and time management, resilience, effort, and communication skills in student-athletes represented factors of success. These findings are presented in two empirical models (DCDE and DC-ESF) of the Audentes Sports Gymnasium.

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Designing Quality Sport Environments to Support Newcomer Youth and Their Families: The Case of One Program Founder/Leader

Sara Kramers, Camille Sabourin, Laura Martin, and Martin Camiré

Appropriately structured youth sport programs have been shown to promote participants’ physical activity and well-being. When compared to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, newcomers to Canada have lessened access to sport programs due to a multitude of interrelated factors. In the present case study, the authors explored the experiences of one founder/leader who created a sport program to support Canadian newcomer youth and their families. Two semistructured interviews were conducted with the program founder/leader to examine her experiences in intentionally promoting the physical activity and well-being of newcomer youth. Transcripts and program documents were subjected to a reflexive thematic analysis. Findings portray the complex set of factors that the program founder/leader considered to address the realities and needs of newcomer youth and their families. The practical considerations and reflections focus on the importance of designing culturally sensitive, inclusive, and quality programs with newcomers.

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Determining and Measuring Key Psychological Characteristics: The Case of a National Basketball Federation

Jolan Kegelaers, Janneke Wikkerink, and Raôul R.D. Oudejans

This case study presents the structured and evidence-informed approach toward developing a psychological assessment instrument within a national basketball federation. To this end, a two-phase approach was adopted. During the first phase, a focus group with the coaches was conducted to determine the key psychological characteristics pertinent to the case environment. This resulted in 10 identified key psychological characteristics. During the second phase, the results from the focus group were used to develop and conduct preliminary testing of a context-specific assessment instrument. Preliminary testing resulted in a refined instrument including nine characteristics. Based on the findings of this case study, the authors conclude this paper by outlining a number of reflections that can provide important considerations for sport psychologists, coaches, and talent identification and development organizations looking to develop and implement psychological assessment within their programs.

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Developing an Applied Profile for Assessing the Perceived Effectiveness of Athletes’ Psychological Strategies: A Case Study at the Australian Institute of Sport

Umut Doğan

Existing tools measuring athletes’ psychological strategies have various practical limitations including (a) not capturing the perceived effectiveness of psychological strategies in pursuing desirable outcomes; (b) overlooking stages of competitive involvement, such as before training or the night before competition; (c) and being predominantly paper-based. In the present case study, the author explains the process of developing an alternative assessment tool called the Profile of Psychological Strategies (ProPS). This new profile aims to measure athletes’ perceptions of which strategies they use, to pursue which desirable outcomes, and how effectively. The ProPS has its theoretical roots in Fletcher and Sarkar’s approach to developing psychological resilience and was developed based on an adapted version of Radhakrishna’s Sequence for Instrument Development. This case study can be useful both for sport experts looking for a practical and flexible way to measure athletes’ psychological strategies and for those aiming to develop their own applied assessment tool.

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The Effects of Applied and Sport-Specific Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement Training on Mindfulness Skills, Flow, and Emotional Regulation in National Competitive Swimmers

Jenny Meggs and Mark Chen

These case studies examined the effects of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) programs on competitive swimming performance, flow experience, and emotional regulation. Sixteen national competitive adolescent swimmers were randomly allocated into MSPE (n = 9) and relaxation training (n = 7) groups for 8 weeks. In the second phase of the intervention, the 16 participants were evenly split into an MSPE group for swimming and a control group for 5 weeks. The participants completed measures of trait and state flow, and mindfulness pre- and postintervention. The data analysis revealed that mindfulness had significant effects on both action–awareness merging and clear goals subscales. Further analysis revealed that the MSPE for swimming group significantly improved in terms of presence relative to the control group. In conclusion, general and sport-specific mindfulness interventions can psychologically benefit adolescent competitive swimmers.

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Enhancing the Mental Performance of Head Coaches in Professional Sports: A Case Study of Collaboration With the Head Coach of a Professional Basketball Team

Charles A. Maher

This case reflects the approach used by a sport and performance psychologist with the head coach of a professional basketball team in the United States to enhance the mental performance of the coach. As part of his independent practice, the psychologist worked with the head coach in assisting that individual in developing and improving his mental performance. The approach was considered a collaboration between the head coach and the psychologist. Following an assessment of the coach’s mental and emotional needs, an individual mental performance development plan was formulated with the active involvement of the coach; the plan included several separate yet interrelated elements: (a) purpose and goals, (b) plan activities and their implementation, and (c) progress evaluation. In addition to a description of the collaborative approach, information is provided in this case about the implementation of the plan by the coach, as well as about the progress made toward his mental performance development goals. Furthermore, an evaluation of the approach is presented in terms of its practicality, utility, propriety, and technical relevance. Finally, practitioner reflections are offered along with suggestions for when such an approach may be useful for practitioners in working with coaches in professional sports and college settings.