There is growing interest in how athletes’ physical activity participation may be impacted when they transition out of competitive sport; however, few studies have examined the process of physical activity transitions in collegiate student-athletes using a qualitative approach. The purpose of our study was to explore student-athletes’ perceptions of, and experiences with, physical activity in the transition out of collegiate sport. Our analysis of transcripts from 13 focus groups conducted with current and former student-athletes (n = 59) suggests that student-athletes experienced a journey from control to liberation as they transitioned into their postcompetitive lives. In this exciting yet challenging transitional journey, participants were faced with navigating newfound autonomy over their physical activity outside of the controlled environment of collegiate sports and were considering the value and meaning of physical activity within a health promoting context. We offer practical recommendations from these findings to support student-athletes in this transition.
Erin J. Reifsteck, Jamian D. Newton, Melinda B. Smith, DeAnne Davis Brooks, and Shelby N. Anderson
Carla Meijen, Alister McCormick, Paul A. Anstiss, and Samuele M. Marcora
There is potential in delivering brief, educational interventions online, particularly for recreational athletes. This initial investigation examined how two online interventions were perceived by endurance participants and how they affected outcomes of interest. After measuring self-efficacy, 142 people were randomized to one of three groups (self-talk, implementation intentions, and control) before an endurance event. Ninety-four completed postevent measures, which were self-efficacy, goal attainment, performance satisfaction, coping, stress appraisals, and social validity. The interventions involved approximately 10 min of initial engagement with online material. Perceptions of stress controllability were significantly higher in the implementation intention group compared with the control. There were no other statistically significant effects. Nevertheless, both intervention groups were satisfied with their interventions, found them useful, and were planning to continue using them. The findings demonstrate the feasibility and value of using brief, online psychological interventions, which may be timely in our changing profession, as COVID-19 has moved many interventions online.
Fionnuala B. Barnes, David Fletcher, and Kacey C. Neely
The purpose of this study was to explore growth following the experience of stressors and compare the experiences of elite athletes who exhibit higher and lower levels of growth. Six elite athletes (five female and one male) participated in a semi-structured interview. Three athletes reported experiencing higher levels, and three athletes reported experiencing lower levels of growth. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed that understanding of self, development in athletic identity, and social support are key psychological mechanisms, which differentiate elite athletes who reported experiencing higher and lower levels of growth. Athletes higher in reported growth showed greater association with meaningful behavioral actions, ultimately reflecting the modification of previously held beliefs into a new worldview. Athletes lower in reported growth reflected an attempt to maintain beliefs into an already existing worldview, thus hindering growth. The findings show psychological mechanisms that accumulatively promote growth and provide a foundation for subsequent intervention studies.
Johannes Raabe, E. Earlynn Lauer, and Matthew P. Bejar
Mental toughness (MT) enables individuals to thrive in demanding situations; however, current conceptualizations of MT are primarily based on research with elite adult athletes. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to explore youth sport coaches’ perceptions of mentally tough adolescent athletes with whom they have worked. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 14 youth sport coaches (nine men and five women). Using a hermeneutic process, a thematic structure comprising five themes was developed: (a) Youth athletes demonstrate their MT by overcoming various obstacles, (b) mentally tough youth athletes are highly self-determined with respect to their sport participation, (c) mentally tough youth athletes control their emotions in competition, (d) mentally tough youth athletes focus on aspects that facilitate their performance, and (e) mentally tough youth athletes are good teammates. These findings not only complement existing conceptualizations of MT but also highlight important distinctions in the manifestation of the construct in early to middle adolescents.
Zoë A. Poucher, Katherine A. Tamminen, and Christopher R.D. Wagstaff
Sport organizations have been noted as pivotal to the success or failure of athletes, and sport environments can impact the well-being and development of athletes. In this study, the authors explored stakeholders’ perceptions of how high-performance sport organizations support athlete development. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 18 stakeholders from the United Kingdom’s high-performance sport system and transcripts were analyzed using a semantic thematic analysis. Participants emphasized the importance of performance lifestyle advisors, sport psychologists, and financial assistance for promoting athlete development. Several stakeholders observed that despite the extensive support available to athletes, many do not engage with available support, and the prevalence of a performance narrative has led to an environment that discourages holistic development. It follows that sport organizations could develop alternative strategies for promoting athletes’ access to and engagement with available supports, while funding agencies might broaden existing funding criteria to include well-being or athlete development targets.
Sinan Yildirim and Ziya Koruç
The current study focuses on the effect of transformational leadership on athletes’ performance in the mediation of psychological need satisfaction, burnout, competition anxiety, life satisfaction, and positive–negative affect. The sample consisted of 391 soccer players aged between 16 and 20 years. Six scales were used in this study: Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, Needs Satisfaction Scale, Athlete Burnout Measure, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Positive and Negative Affect Scale, and Sport Competition Anxiety Test. The method of Vallerand was preferred to measure performance, and structural equation modeling was employed to analyze data. The model data fit was also verified. It was found that the transformational leadership behaviors of coaches signally influence athletes’ performance either directly or indirectly. From another perspective, increasing the psychological health or well-being of athletes has important effects on sport performance.
Andrew P. Friesen
There has been an implied direct connection between the scholarly literature and applied practice. However, the sport and exercise psychology community is lacking an empirical account of what practitioners believe to have been the most impactful scholarly writings to their applied practice. The purpose of this study was to survey applied practitioners of their perceived most impactful scholarly writings to their professional practice. Surveys were returned from 532 participants solicited from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology membership, who were asked to identify their perceived most impactful book and journal article to their practice. Frequency statistics were calculated and presented for topic, type, title, author(s), year published, and journal. A total of 143 different books and 188 different articles across 84 different journals were reported. Implications for applied practice, teaching sport and exercise psychology, and research are presented.
Johannes Raabe, Elmer Castillo, and Johannes Carl
Although applied sport psychology services have traditionally been provided in athletic settings, there has been a trend toward a more general application across different performance domains and, in particular, with tactical populations (i.e., military, law enforcement, and firefighters). The purpose of the current study was to systematically review the existing research on mental qualities and techniques in tactical populations. A database search revealed 7,220 potentially relevant articles, which were screened by two independent reviewers based on predefined inclusion criteria. This systematic screening process helped to identify 49 articles for further analysis. The findings highlight the benefits of developing mental qualities and techniques among tactical populations, as they can help to nurture a range of positive cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes. Yet, this review also indicates gaps and limitations that need to be addressed in future research to gain a better understanding of the antecedents, mediators, and consequences of these psychological constructs.