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.
Too Many Cooks, Not Enough Gourmets: Examining Provision and Use of Feedback for the Developing Athlete
Jamie Taylor, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank
Volume 35 (2021): Issue 4 (Dec 2021)
An Exploration of Sport Psychology Professional Quality of Life in British Neophyte Practitioners
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.
Alexithymia and the Anxiolytic Effect of Endurance Running
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.
The Philosophical Underpinning of Athlete Lifestyle Support: An Existential-Humanistic Perspective
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.
Differences in Body Appreciation and Functionality Appreciation Outside of and Directly Following Sport Among Collegiate Student-Athletes
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.
Exploring Female University Athlete Experiences of Coping With Protracted Concussion Symptoms
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.
From the Lesson Tee to the Course: A Naturalistic Investigation of Attentional Focus in Elite Golf
Steven Orr, Andrew Cruickshank, and Howie J. Carson
While debate continues on “optimal” attentional focus, little empirical knowledge exists on the way that attention is operationalized across training and performance in elite golf. Accordingly, this study aimed to (a) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players for different types of shots in training, plus their underpinning rationale and (b) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players in competition, plus their underpinning rationale. Our findings revealed that (a) various foci were used across training and competition; (b) all players used different combinations of foci across training and competition, and within different aspects of training itself (e.g., short vs. long game); and (c) players often used alternative or additional foci in training to those promoted by coaches, and self-generated foci for competition. These results highlight the complexity and practical reality that needs to underpin future advances in theory, research, and practice.
Journey From Control to Liberation: Exploring Student-Athletes’ Physical Activity Perceptions and Experiences in the Transition Out of Collegiate Sport
Erin J. Reifsteck, Jamian D. Newton, Melinda B. Smith, DeAnne Davis Brooks, and Shelby N. Anderson
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.