Retirement from competitive sports significantly influences former athletes’ well-being. We propose that disengaging from the former athletic career is a crucial factor in retired athletes’ adaptation. Using the theoretical framework of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) we propose that sport motivation at the career peak and motivation for retirement are important determinants of athletes’ disengagement progress from a terminated athletic career. We also seek to examine how motivation for retirement and disengagement progress predict retired athletes’ well-being. Using a mixed-retrospective/prospective longitudinal design we followed 158 government-supported elite athletes who had recently retired from an athletic career. In two online surveys administered 1.5 years apart, retired athletes reported on motivation, disengagement, and well-being. Results suggested that SDT motivation factors are important predictors for elite athletes career disengagement and well-being in retirement. The clinical implications of these findings for athletic career transition and support programs are discussed.
Anne Holding, Jo-Annie Fortin, Joëlle Carpentier, Nora Hope, and Richard Koestner
Leonardo Ruiz, Judy L. Van Raalte, Thaddeus France, and Al Petitpas
More than 1,400 Latin American professional baseball players, age 16-21, are employed by 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) academies in the Dominican Republic. The popular press has highlighted scandals related to professional youth baseball player recruitment, selection, and exploitation in the academies, but little attention has been given to the academy experiences of youth baseball players from the perspective of the players themselves. For this research, 11 professional baseball players residing at an MLB Academy in the Dominican Republic participated in semi-structured interviews. Players described their transitions into the baseball academy system, their experiences in the academy, and their perceptions and expectations upon leaving or being released from the academy. Themes that emerged from the data included athletes’ hopes and dreams, stress, faith, and career transitions. Clinical implications of these findings for sport psychology practitioners are discussed.
Karin Moesch, Andreas Ivarsson, and Urban Johnson
Injury is a serious setback for athletes and might jeopardize mental health. The aim of this study is to investigate if a mindfulness- and acceptance-based intervention can improve mindfulness (nonreactivity and acting with awareness), acceptance, and well-being, and decrease the level of symptoms of anxiety and depression. A single-case design with multiple, staggered, and nonconcurrent baselines was used. Six seriously injured athletes took part in an 8-week intervention and repeatedly completed questionnaires on all variables for the duration of the study. The results showed that, on average, there were significant clinical changes between phases in nonreactivity, well-being, and acceptance. No effect was seen in the two remaining scales. On an individual level, two participants showed effects in all scales, two participants in some of the scales, and two participants in the scale nonreactivity. Results are discussed in light of existing research, and implications for practitioners’ clinical methods are presented.
Linda Corbally, Mick Wilkinson, and Melissa A. Fothergill
Fatigue, boredom, pain, performance anxiety, and negative thoughts are challenges characteristic of competitive running. One psychological technique that is gaining support and has been successfully implemented in sport is the practice of mindfulness. Where conventional psychological skills training interventions aim to change dysfunctional thoughts and emotions, mindfulness focuses on altering the relationship to physiological and psychological states. This could help in dealing with the demands of distance running but this has yet to be examined. This article was focused on reviewing mindfulness interventions on performance and performance-based factors in long distance running, assessing (a) mindfulness scores, (b) physiological performance-related factors, (c) psychological performance-related factors, and (d) performance outcomes. A search of relevant electronic databases yielded seven studies which met the inclusion criteria. The review provided some tentative support for the use of mindfulness interventions regarding: reducing competitive anxiety, attenuating immune responses to high-intensity running, and increasing state mindfulness. However, due to the methodological weaknesses of studies more research is required using high-quality randomized controlled trial designs.
William C. Way, Ashley M. Coker-Cranney, and Jack C. Watson II
Using the framework of multidisciplinary best practice recommendations promoted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, this study used a mixed-methods approach to investigate Division I student-athletes’ perceived access to and satisfaction with mental health service availability. Participants were asked about their satisfaction with direct (e.g., counseling, psychiatry, assessment) and indirect (e.g., mental health outreach, educational workshops) service availability, both on campus and within athletics. Results from a researcher-generated survey indicated that participants were moderately satisfied with service availability in each of the four contexts. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that student-athletes’ satisfaction was predicted by different factors for each service type-location combination. Qualitative data contained requests for more athlete-centered mental health services as well as more preventative outreach in general. These data provide a foundation for understanding factors that influence student-athletes’ satisfaction with mental health service availability and offer practical implications for current best practice recommendations.
Tobias Lundgren, Gustaf Reinebo, Markus Näslund, and Thomas Parling
Despite the growing popularity of mindfulness and acceptance-based performance enhancement methods in applied sport psychology, evidence for their efficacy is scarce. The purpose of the current study is to test the feasibility and effect of a psychological training program based on Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) developed for ice hockey players. A controlled group feasibility designed study was conducted and included 21 elite male ice hockey players. The ACT program consisted of four, once a week, sessions with homework assignments between sessions. The results showed significant increase in psychological flexibility for the players in the training group. The outcome was positive for all feasibility measures. Participants found the psychological training program important to them as ice hockey players and helpful in their ice hockey development. Desirably, future studies should include objective performance data as outcome measure to foster more valid evidence for performance enhancement methods in applied sport psychology.
Hugh Gilmore, Stephen Shannon, Gerard Leavey, Martin Dempster, Shane Gallagher, and Gavin Breslin
Recreational athletes comprise the most prevalent population using illegal Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS). Despite regulatory efforts, substances are widely accessible, and most users report the experience of harmful side effects. It remains unclear why few users seek professional medical help. The aim of this study was to determine AAS users’ experience of side effects and help-seeking beliefs using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of six interviews. Participants were from the United Kingdom (n = 5) and United States (n = 1), had all experienced side effects, with some reporting prolonged use of AAS (>10 years) and self-manufacturing the drugs from raw ingredients. Results showed that AAS users discredit medical professionals’ competencies, and practice cognitive dissonance by avoiding challenging situations. A microculture for information-sharing has developed among AAS users who initially self-treat to counteract side effects, leaving them vulnerable to further harm. To conclude, there is an urgent need for educational interventions that outline the risky practice of unregulated AAS use and self-treatments, and the need to seek professional help. Such interventions could be developed through a co-production basis, and be implemented by current/former AAS users alongside the medical community.
Richard Tahtinen, Michael McDougall, Niels Feddersen, Olli Tikkanen, Robert Morris, and Noora J. Ronkainen
Individual differences in vulnerability to depression are still underexplored in athletes. We tested the influence of different brooding and reflective rumination profiles (i.e., repetitive thought processes in response to low/depressed mood) on the odds of experiencing clinically relevant depressive symptoms in competitive athletes (N = 286). The Patient Health Questionnaire–9 and the Ruminative Responses Scale–short form were utilized to measure depression and rumination, respectively. Compared to athletes with a low brooding/reflection profile, athletes with a high brooding/reflection profile had significantly higher odds of experiencing clinical levels of depressive symptoms (OR = 13.40, 95% CI = 3.81–47.11). A high reflection/low brooding profile was not, however, related to increased odds of depressive symptoms. Future research could extend our findings by exploring determinants of ruminative tendencies, especially brooding, in athletes. Furthermore, psychological interventions targeting rumination could be examined as a potential prevention and treatment approach to tackling depressive symptoms in athletes.
Robin S. Vealey, Robin Cooley, Emma Nilsson, Carly Block, and Nick Galli
The purpose of this study was to examine the types and perceived usefulness of questionnaires used by consultants in applied intervention work with athletes in 2003 and 2017, as well as to understand consultants’ perceptions of the advantages, limitations, and needs regarding the use of questionnaires in consulting. Sport psychology consultants in 2003 (n = 96) and 2017 (n = 106) completed a questionnaire that included Likert-scale questions as well as open-ended questions. The percentage of consultants who used questionnaires decreased from 83% in 2003 to 67% in 2017. Consultants in 2003 rated questionnaires as more useful than consultants in 2017, although the specific questionnaires used by consultants did not change extensively over the 14-year period. Advantages in using questionnaires included efficiency, structure of assessment, consensual validation, and credibility, while limitations included lack of relevance, undermining of athlete-consultant relationship, interpretive problems, and cost and lack of access.
Ashley A. Hansen, Joanne E. Perry, John W. Lace, Zachary C. Merz, Taylor L. Montgomery, and Michael J. Ross
Evidence for the mechanisms of change by which sport psychology interventions enhance performance is limited and treatment monitoring and outcomes measures would assist in establishing evidence-based practices. The present paper fills a gap in sport psychology literature by demonstrating the development and validation of a new measure (Sport Psychology Outcomes and Research Tool; SPORT). Study 1 described test construction and pilot item selection with 73 collegiate student-athletes. Twenty-three pilot items contributed unique variance while maintaining the original constructs and were selected from 80 initial items. In Study 2, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted with collegiate student-athletes (n = 220), revealing a 17-item, four-factor model measuring Athlete Wellbeing, Self-Regulation, Performance Satisfaction, and Sport-Related Distress. Concurrent validity was supported through correlational analyses. Overall, results supported the SPORT as a new transtheoretical tool for monitoring effectiveness and outcomes of sport psychology interventions.