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An Existential Counseling Case Study: Navigating Several Critical Moments With a Professional Football Player

Samuel Porter, Noora Ronkainen, Richard Sille, and Martin Eubank

The current article presents a reflective case study following an applied service delivery experience with a 21-year-old professional footballer. The primary aim of the intervention was to support the client while facing several critical moments (breakdown in relationships, identity, and contract negotiations). This support involved creating a confidential space for her to discuss her values, beliefs, and identity while considering some of the tensions and dilemmas experienced while considering her future. Throughout this process, the first author adopted an existential counseling approach to practice and utilized the Four Dimensions of Existence and Emotional Compass as hermeneutic devices to analyze the client’s presenting challenges. The working relationship lasted for 3 months and spanned eight online sessions. Reflections on practitioner individuation and the value of adopting an existential approach to service delivery are provided.

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Implementation of an App-Based Blended Mindfulness Intervention in a Bundesliga Youth Academy Targeting Goalkeepers: A Case Study

Christoph Kittler, Lukas Stenzel, Darko Jekauc, and Oliver Stoll

Integrating extensive sport psychological interventions into the daily routine of young football players poses a problem. This case study aimed to describe the implementation of an app-based blended mindfulness intervention in a German Bundesliga youth academy to improve goalkeepers’ (n = 6) attention. A mindfulness app was combined with regular group workshops. The study included an outcome evaluation based on pre- and postintervention assessments of attention performance and process evaluation based on recorded training time and collected qualitative data. The results showed an improvement in the players’ Frankfurt Attention Inventory-2 L scores and K scores. The training time with the app was low (M = 30.51 min), but high (M = 200.00 min) without the app. To implement an app-based intervention successfully, the results imply that players need more assistance with the app, and time management and informal training should be incorporated into sport-specific exercises.

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Intervening in a Messy Reality: A Case of Interorganizational Collaboration in Talent Development Within the Danish Sport System

Ole Winthereik Mathorne, Natalia Stambulova, and Kristoffer Henriksen

The overall aim of this paper is to share our experiences in development, implementation, and evaluation of an intervention designed for establishing interorganizational collaboration in talent development between a Danish sports club, a municipality, and a federation. Yet, despite a neat plan, we faced several challenges in what turned out to be a less successful intervention. The account is based on the first author’s field notes, informal interviews, and intervention debriefings. The professional philosophy of the research team was informed by the holistic ecological approach and an empowerment approach. We used the pyramid model for optimizing interorganizational collaboration in talent development as a framework to design and guide the 7-month intervention that included four workshops covering (a) initiation: building relationships; (b) exploration: foundation for the shared philosophy; (c) clarification: negotiating values and strategy; and (d) implementation: from talk to action. However, challenges (e.g., resignations of key stakeholders) led to program adjustments and, ultimately, termination. This paper shows the nuances of a less successful intervention, which can help practitioners plan and carry out better interventions in the future. Despite the challenges faced here, we still deem the pyramid model for optimizing interorganizational collaboration in talent development a valuable framework for practitioners working at an interorganizational level.

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“Knowing That This Is My Place Is Very Positive”: The Case of a Swedish Table Tennis Club

Michaela Elisabeth Karlsson, Natalia B. Stambulova, and Kristoffer Henriksen

This case study is guided by the holistic ecological approach and aimed at (a) providing a holistic description of an athletic talent development environment using a table tennis club in Sweden as a case study and (b) examining the factors perceived as influential to the effectiveness of the club’s talent development. The holistic ecological approach’s two working models informed the data collection (through interviews, observation, and analysis of documents) and were subsequently transformed into empirical models, acting as a summary of the case. Findings revealed that the environment’s success in talent development can be seen as an outcome of the following key features: (a) flexible and supportive training groups, (b) opportunities to learn from senior elite athletes, (c) support through the club and sport-friendly schools, (d) support of the development of psychosocial skills, (e) regular and intensive training, (f) focus on long-term development and athletes as whole persons, (g) strong and coherent organizational culture centered around the basic assumption, “we are a community of committed members,” and (h) integrated efforts among the club and sport-friendly schools to support athletes’ development. This case study can inform other athletic talent development environments on how to optimize talent development processes.

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Pavel Datsyuk: Learning, Development, and Becoming the “Magic Man”

Mark O’Sullivan, Vladislav A. Bespomoshchnov, and Clifford J. Mallett

Who is the “Magic Man” ( In 2017, Pavel Datsyuk was named as one of the 100 greatest National Hockey League players in ice hockey history. His Detroit Red Wings teammate Niklas Kronwall quipped, “Pav is the Magic Man for a reason. He does things out there with the puck that no one else can do.” This statement begs the questions: When, where, and how did Pavel learn those creative skills? To gain insight into how the “Magic Man,” Pavel Datsyuk, acquired such sophisticated yet unorthodox skills, we endeavored to investigate the preprofessional years of Pavel’s development. Utilizing a case study methodology and leaning on the theoretical framework of ecological dynamics, we sought to examine the ecological niche that helped shape Pavel’s learning in development. Our case study highlights the ecological nature of the development of expertise and the nonlinear impact ecological constraints had on the development of Pavel’s expertise.

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Reflecting on the Game: Situational Stressors, Stress Responses, and Coping in German Elite Volleyball Referees

Lisa-Marie Rückel, Benjamin Noël, André Jungen, Sebastian Brückner, Bernd Strauss, and Stefanie Klatt

This study uses a thematic content analysis to analyze common stressors for volleyball referees, examine the individual triggered stress responses, and identify the applied coping strategies. A total of 38 German elite volleyball referees (24 male and 14 female, M age = 38.29 years, SD = 7.91 years) were considered for this study. Through the analysis, 17 stressful events, 14 stress responses, and 6 different coping strategies were identified and further clustered into four main dimensions. Common stressors among elite German volleyball referees were identified as stressful game situations, need for game management, situational environment, and demands on self-activation. These stressors triggered emotional stress reactions, cognitive stress reactions, changes in focus, and reactions among the test group after increased strain. In order to deal with these situations and emotions, referees applied self-regulation strategies, improved focus and concentration, searched for a solution, prepared for the match or a stressor, showed a confident appearance, and tried to accept and let go of mistakes or situations. Post hoc Pearson’s correlation analyses showed significant relationships between emotional and cognitive stress reactions with stressful game situations. Consequently, the role of coping with emotions and thoughts becomes essential for volleyball referees to remain focused and perform.

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Shifting Attributions, Shaping Behavior: A Brief Intervention With Youth Tennis Players

Zoe Louise Moffat, Paul Joseph McCarthy, and Bryan McCann

This case reports a brief attribution-retraining (AR) intervention with youth tennis players. Athletes were struggling to maintain emotional control, resulting in problematic on-court behavior (e.g., racket throwing). The intervention used a Think Aloud protocol and AR across five key phases: (a) assessment, (b) psychoeducation, (c) AR, (d) evaluation, and (e) follow-up. The authors determined intervention effectiveness using qualitative (Think Aloud) and quantitative (Causal Dimension Scale-II) athlete data and feedback provided by athletes and the coach, alongside practitioner reflections. Evaluation suggested that AR and Think Aloud interventions can improve athletes’ emotional control and attribution capabilities, and, in turn, their behavior. The case seeks to present a novel approach to working with youth athletes, highlighting the importance of practitioner adaptability.

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Transitioning Concussion Care to Mental Health Care: A Case Study of an Elite Athlete

Natalie S. Sherry, Abigail Feder, Raymond Pan, Shawn R. Eagle, and Anthony P. Kontos

Athletes with recent concussion experience a constellation of physical (e.g., headache, nausea), cognitive (e.g., memory problems, difficulty concentrating), sleep, and emotional (e.g., anxiety, depressed mood) symptoms after injury. Mental health changes may also be a product of typical maturation in adolescents/young adults, making mood disruption difficult to disentangle from concussion sequelae. In this case study, we present the case of a high-achieving 18-year-old female rower whose concussion clinical trajectory exhibits this type of difficulty. Specifically, we provide a detailed chronological summary of the athlete’s visits with a multidisciplinary concussion team. We highlight in this case study (a) an individualized, biopsychosocial model of concussion care and (b) subtle aspects of her clinical presentation that led the clinical team to transition her treatment focus from concussion specific to formal mental health care.

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The “10 Mentality”: A Longitudinal Case Study of Self-Control Strength in Two Competitive Recurve Archers

Roy David Samuel, Guy Matzkin, Saar Gal, and Chris Englert

In this case study, the authors’ aim was to apply the tenets of the strength model of self-control (Baumeister et al., 1998) with two Israeli competitive archers over the 2019–20 season. According to this model, the ability to control the self is based on a finite resource that can become temporarily depleted. Under ego depletion, subsequent self-control acts are executed less efficiently, potentially resulting in lower effort and attentional focus. Recurve archery is a closed, self-paced shooting sport, which requires exerting control over physical and mental elements. Archers’ ability to control their performance sequence is partly dependent on self-control. The two archers practiced (in consultation sessions, training and competitions, and independently) a range of well-established intervention techniques (e.g., self-talk, performance routines, mindfulness) designed to increase their self-control strength and focus on the present shot. Archers self-reported data on their trait and state of self-control and mental states during several performance situations in training and competition. The results indicated a complex self-control—performance relationship, potentially underlined by the athletes’ preperformance mental state, self-control strength, and subjective perceptions of temporarily available self-control resources. The archers’ and the authors’ reflections demonstrate the importance of incorporating self-control training in an idiosyncratic manner to achieve positive performance outcomes.

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Volume 4 (2020): Issue 1 (Jan 2020)