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Karissa L. Johnson, Danielle L. Cormier, Kent C. Kowalski, and Amber D. Mosewich

Helping athletes cope effectively with injury is likely of great interest to many sport stakeholders. Mental toughness is one psychological factor positively associated with resilience and sport performance, though stubborn persistence through injury might not always be conducive to adaptive athlete outcomes. Self-compassion—a balanced, nonjudgmental approach in relating to oneself when experiencing suffering—might help circumvent these pitfalls and complement injury recovery. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between mental toughness and self-compassion in a sport injury context. This study consisted of 2 phases—phase I quantitatively assessed the relationships between mental toughness, self-compassion, and other psychological constructs, while phase II used qualitative interviews to corroborate and inform these findings. In phase I, competitive athletes who were injured at the time of data collection (n = 81) completed mental toughness, self-compassion, coping resources, self-esteem, and self-criticism questionnaires. Self-compassion was positively correlated with mental toughness (r = .48, P < .01), coping resources (r = .54, P < .05), and self-esteem (r = .60, P < .01). Self-compassion and self-criticism were negatively correlated with each other (r = –.52, P < .01). Results from hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that self-compassion was a significant predictor of mental toughness (ΔR 2 = .07, P < .01), coping resources (ΔR 2 = .10, P < .01), and self-criticism (ΔR 2 = .06, P < .01), beyond the effects of self-esteem. Four injured athletes who scored above the median on mental toughness and self-compassion measures were interviewed in phase II. Thematic analysis generated 2 themes: (1) self-compassion grants access to wise mental toughness and (2) mental toughness helps activate self-compassionate actions during injury. These findings are consistent with recent research and suggest that both mental toughness and self-compassion can work together to help athletes cope with sport injury.

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Koichi Hiraoka, Masaya Ishimoto, Mai Kishigami, Ryota Sakaya, Asahi Sumimoto, and Kazuki Yoshikawa

This study investigated the process that contributes to the decay of short-term motor memory regarding force reproduction. Participants performed tonic flexion of the right index finger with the target force feedback (criterion phase) and reproduced this force level without feedback 3, 10, 30, or 60 s after the end of the criterion phase (recall phase). The constant error for force reproduction was significantly greater than zero, indicating that information about the somatosensation and/or motor command in the criterion phase is positively biased. Constant and absolute errors were not influenced by the retention interval, indicating that neither bias nor error represents the decay of short-term motor memory over time. Variable error, defined as SD of bias (force in the recall phase minus that in the criterion phase), increased as the retention interval increased. This indicates that the decay of short-term motor memory is represented by the increase in inconsistency of memory bias among the trials. The correlation coefficient of the force between the criterion and recall phases with 3-s retention interval was greater than that with longer intervals. This is explained by the view that the contribution of the information of the practiced force to the force reproduction process is great within 3 s after the end of the practice, but the additional contribution of the noise information becomes greater after this time, causing lesser relative contribution of the information of the practiced force to the force reproduction process.

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Francesco Frontani, Marco Prenassi, Viviana Paolini, Giovanni Formicola, Sara Marceglia, and Francesca Policastro

The goal of the study is to analyze the kinematics and provide an EMG analysis of the support limb during an instep kick in adolescent players. We set a video camera, two torque transducers on the knee, and EMG sensors. A sample of 16 adolescent soccer players between 10 and 12 years old performed kicks. The kinematics shows a p = .039 on frontal plane (dominant 15.4 ± 1.8, nondominant 18.8 ± 1.7); the EMG analysis shows a p = .04 on muscular activation timing for the vastus medialis. A difference between the legs on the frontal plane emerges. Moreover, a huge difference on sagittal plane between the adolescent pattern and adult pattern exists (15° in adolescent population, 40° in adult population). The result shows a greater activation of the vastus medialis in the nondominant leg; probably, in this immature pattern, the adolescents use this muscle more than necessary.

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Jacqueline A. Augustine, Sarah Rothstein, Larissa True, and Kevin D. Dames

Context: A variety of gait retraining interventions are available to modify running mechanics associated with musculoskeletal injuries. These often require specialized equipment and/or personnel to prompt the runner toward specific strategies. Objective: To determine whether instructing female recreational runners to “run quietly” could decrease impact force characteristics. Design: Cohort. Setting: Research laboratory. Participants: Fifteen healthy female recreational runners (24 [7] y) volunteered. Interventions: Baseline testing occurred on day 1 (baseline), a posttraining assessment occurred on day 2 (training), and a final assessment occurred 1 week after training on day 3 (follow-up). A smartphone decibel measuring app was used to provide biofeedback on the decibel level of foot strike on day 2 (training). Main Outcomes: Peak vertical force, impact transient, peak and average vertical loading rate, ground contact time, and running economy were collected on each day and compared via repeated-measures analyses of variance. Results: Vertical ground reaction force was lower at follow-up (2.30 bodyweights [BW]) versus baseline (2.39 BW, P = .023) and training (2.34 BW, P = .047). Maximal loading rate decreased from baseline (69.70 BW·s−1) to training (62.24 BW·s−1, P = .021) and follow-up (60.35 BW·s−1, P = .031). There was no change in running economy. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that simple instructions to “run quietly” can yield immediate and sustained reductions in impact force profiles, which do not influence running economy.

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Kim Tolentino, Tucker Readdy, and Johannes Raabe

Workaholism (i.e., working excessively and compulsively) is associated with negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. Researchers have previously examined antecedents of workaholism, but the experiences of sport coaches have not yet been investigated. This study explored (a) differences in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I coaches’ workaholism, as well as need satisfaction and frustration based on gender, coaching role, gender of athletes coached, age, and years of coaching experience; and (b) how coaches’ perceptions of their three basic psychological needs are associated with tendencies to work excessively and compulsively. A total of 873 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I coaches participated in the research. Data analyses revealed significant differences in participants’ workaholism as well as need satisfaction and frustration. Structural equation modeling indicated a significant relationship between reported levels of workaholism and perceptions of the three needs. Findings illustrate the importance of basic psychological needs in preventing coaches’ workaholism and maintain optimal functioning.

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Nima Dehghansai, Alia Mazhar, Ross Pinder, Joseph Baker, and Ian Renshaw

The current study explored coach and athlete reactions and challenges leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with a specific focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Games’ postponement. Nine Australian Paralympic coaches (n = 3) and athletes (n = 6) shared their experiences in semistructured interviews. The thematic analysis highlighted how participants experienced the emergence of the pandemic in different ways, but all were relieved when the late but eventual decision to postpone the Games was made. Regarding lockdown periods (i.e., social-distancing restrictions), some coaches and athletes thrived under the new reality (i.e., training from home, online coaching) while others had more difficulty adjusting. Furthermore, results highlight the many uncertainties still remaining, which continue to influence participants’ sport and personal lives. The experiences of coaches and athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on strategies and resources that could support Paralympic coaches and athletes during current and future crises.

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Deirdre Lyons, Philip Clarke, and Robert C. Dempsey

Limited research into professional rugby union players’ experiences of seeking formal support for their mental health exists, despite comparable rates of mental health issues among elite rugby players with the general population. This qualitative study explored professional players’ actual experiences of accessing Rugby Players Ireland’s mental well-being service, via separate focus group discussions with professional players (n = 5) and player development managers (n = 4) who refer players into the service. An inductive reflexive thematic analysis identified three themes detailing players’ (a) journey to disclosure of their mental health difficulties, (b) their expectations and engagement with the well-being service, and (c) participants’ reflections on mental health experiences in a high-performance environment. Embedding mental health as a key component of player development in high-performance environments, improving mental health literacy, normalizing mental health experiences, and encouraging help-seeking would help promote player well-being and support holistic development alongside sporting performance.

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Blanca De-la-Cruz-Torres, Beatriz Romero-Rodríguez, and Carlos Romero-Morales

Context: The performance of sprints during male soccer matches usually is slow medium paced, where the soleus and gastrocnemius (ankle plantar flexors) play a very important role. As in male soccer, soleus injuries should be considered in female soccer; but the scientific evidence is very limited in this case. Design: Pilot clinical trial study. Objective: To determine whether adding an ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle electrolysis (US-guided PNE) technique to a specific exercise program improved perceived pain at stretching and at palpation, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, muscle fatigue, and sport performance in women soccer players with soleus injury. Methods: This pilot study recruited 20 female players with chronic soleus injury (type 1, characterized by hypoechoic image) who were assigned to one of 2 groups: an experimental group (exercise program + US-guided PNE; n = 10) or a control group (exercise program + sham stimulation; n = 10). Pain intensity, dorsiflexion range of motion, knee-flexion heel raise test, curve sprint test, and the global rating of change scale were analyzed at baseline and after treatment (4 wk) and there was no further follow-up. Results: Pain intensity at palpation and at stretching, dorsiflexion range of motion, and heel raise test values showed significant improvements (P < .05) between pretreatment and posttreatment for both groups, however, no significant differences were observed between groups. Curve sprint tests did not show significant differences between pretreatment and posttreatment for either group or between groups. However, the percentage of changes always revealed better values in favor of the PNE group. Both groups showed good player satisfaction with the therapies. Conclusion: The application of the US-guided PNE combined with a specific exercise program may cause clinical benefits in the treatment of female soccer players with soleus injury.