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Thomas Gretton, Lindsey Blom, Dorice Hankemeier, and Lawrence Judge

Preperformance routines are microlevel performance processes utilized by athletes to facilitate the attainment of an optimal state and enhance the chance for successful performance. Despite continued examination of these routines, only a small proportion of research has been directed toward the cognitive component of these routines. This study explored the cognitive component of elite high jumpers’ preperformance routines, and specifically the consistency of the cognitive content (i.e., psychological skills and strategies). Data were acquired over an 8-week high-jump season and subjected to inductive thematic analysis. Results revealed the consistent implementation of the cognitive content (e.g., visualization) but an inconsistent design of this content (i.e., the content of the visualization). Furthermore, results underline the critical role of high-jump coaches and an athlete’s need to be adaptable and competent in utilizing various types of preperformance routine. This study offers valuable insight into the complexities and inconsistencies of the cognitive component of high jumpers’ preperformance routines.

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Martin J. Turner, Gillian Aspin, Faye F. Didymus, Rory Mack, Peter Olusoga, Andrew G. Wood, and Richard Bennett

Practitioners in sport and exercise psychology tasked with service provision in any environment can decide which framework(s) they draw on to inform their applied work. However, the similarities and differences between psychotherapeutic approaches are underrepresented in current literature. Therefore, this paper brings together practitioners from 4 dominant psychotherapeutic approaches to address a specific hypothetical case. Four different cognitive-behavioral approaches are outlined: rational emotive behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, schema therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Each practitioner outlines the particular approach and proceeds to address the case by covering assessment, intervention, and evaluation strategies that are specific to it. Similarities and differences across the approaches are discussed, and implications for practice are put forth. Finally, two other practitioners introduce motivational interviewing as an additional framework to foster the working alliance.

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Florence Lebrun, Àine MacNamara, Dave Collins, and Sheelagh Rodgers

This study explored talent-development coaches’ experiences of athletes having faced mental health issues (MHIs). A second objective was to allow participants to share their opinion on how sport environments could improve the support offered to coaches and athletes encountering MHIs. A thematic analysis was performed on 11 verbatim-transcribed interviews conducted with UK-based talent-development coaches. While monitoring and supporting their athletes’ performance and well-being were viewed as day-to-day practice, dealing with MHIs was, however, not considered part of their role for a variety of reasons. Findings also suggest that coaches need more suitable and context-specific knowledge and tools to appropriately respond to and support their athletes. Generating a better understanding of coaches’ perceived role, knowledge, and needs to adequately support their athletes suffering from MHIs is crucial for the design of sport-specific interventions and for the athletes themselves.

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Mark W. Bruner, Mark Eys, Jeremie M. Carreau, Colin McLaren, and Rachel Van Woezik

Team building (TB) is recognized as one of the most prevalent and promising group-development interventions applied in sport. However, most coaches lack the necessary information to effectively and efficiently target and enhance specific group characteristics and processes. The aim of this study was to develop and apply the Team Environment AssessMent (TEAM) to better inform a TB intervention. Twenty-three male adolescent athletes (mean age 17.9 years) from an elite hockey team completed the TEAM and measures of cohesion before and after a TB intervention. Based on initial TEAM scores, role acceptance and leadership were identified and purposefully targeted in the TB intervention. Athletes’ perceptions of role acceptance, leadership, and task cohesion were stronger after the TB intervention. Furthermore, follow-up interviews with team members and coaches provided additional empirical support for the utility of the TEAM to assess and enhance the efficiency of a TB intervention in sport.

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Georgia Allen, Claire Thornton, and Holly Riby

The superstitious actions athletes undertake before competition have been well documented, yet the role of such behaviors has received little qualitative attention. The aim of this study was to explore the role of superstitious routines in professional male boxing. A descriptive phenomenological approach was adopted, and individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 5 professional male athletes in the United Kingdom. Results show that superstition is regularly used by boxers in the lead-up to fights to aid mental preparation, fulfill a need for control, and improve the likelihood of success. Common themes emerged, such as the use of praying and engagement in acts thought to bring good luck and/or the avoidance of behaviors that might bring bad luck. Findings also indicate that despite a rational link, boxers use superstition as a coping mechanism (e.g., as a scapegoat/excuse for losing) and to gain a sense of control.

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Andy Gillham and Craig Stone

Elite athletes strive for a superior state of psychological functioning to achieve peak performance, and peak performance is the central construct of this study. Peak performance as a phenomenon is a state of superior functioning allowing athletes to perform at their highest levels, attaining outstanding results. The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of peak performance through semistructured interviews with 16 elite-level American football players. Four higher-order themes divided into mental, physical, emotional, and sensory elements. Those themes are supported by 18 lower-level categories. Findings were largely consistent with previous research despite this being the first study to include American football players. A specific noteworthy conclusion is the connection between mental and physical components that provides ample opportunities for both researchers and applied practitioners. In addition, the participant quotes prompted a return to the discussion of the connection between individual zones of optimal functioning, peak performance, and flow states.