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

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Volume 4 (2020): Issue S1 (Jan 2020): Athlete Mental Health

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Consultancy Under Pressure: Intervening in the “Here and Now” With an Elite Golfer

John Pates and Kieran Kingston

This case study is a reflective account of a consultation with a 30-year-old male professional golfer. The approach by the player was made on the evening prior to the final round of a European Tour event, needing a top-20 finish on the final day of the tournament year. Failure to achieve this objective would have resulted in forfeiting of his playing privileges on the PGA European Tour for the following season, with the associated loss of income and, in this case, genuine threats to his livelihood. The consultant used a number of interventions (e.g., best-performance imagery, external focus of attention, hypnosis, and music) and an approach established in humanistic, phenomenological, and transpersonal psychology. Effectiveness was determined by performance and the player’s descriptions of his transcendental experience. The client provided social validation for the consultation approach and the intervention through his reflections. The intervention in this case appeared to elevate positive emotions and trigger a transcendental precursor to peak performance. While this type of intervention may provide immediate performance benefits for golfers experiencing low self-confidence, the case study also illustrates how consultants are often asked to support athletes under severe time constraints.

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Creating a Sustainable Talent-Development Culture: Context-Driven Sport Psychology Practice in a Danish Talent Academy

Louise Kamuk Storm

This case study describes a 1-year intervention aiming at creating a sustainable talent-development culture by actively involving the director and leading coaches of the Danish Talent Academy in a research process, thus broadening their horizons, developing their self-reflexivity, and empowering them to improve their situation. The intervention proceeded in five phases. Phase 1 was exploring and reflecting on previous experiences and understanding needs. Phase 2 was about understanding past, present, and future values and strategies to gain a foothold and stability in the new context. Phase 3 was cocreation of a cultural analysis that was important for constructing the identity of the academy and developing self-reflexivity. Phase 4 was designing the value-based compass poster, and Phase 5 was sharing, evaluating, and looking forward within the local sociocultural context. Reflections on the program suggest that a context-driven approach to the creation of an environment for talent development can enhance the successful nature of the process.

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Development and Implementation of the National Mental Health Referral Network for Elite Athletes: A Case Study of the Australian Institute of Sport

Simon Rice, Matt Butterworth, Matti Clements, Daniel Josifovski, Sharyn Arnold, Cecily Schwab, Kerryn Pennell, and Rosemary Purcell

Awareness-raising and antistigma campaigns have sought to increase the acceptance of mental ill health across the general community and subpopulations of elite athletes. Nonetheless, gaps remain for models of clinical service provision. As cultural change prompts elite athletes toward more open and positive perceptions of help seeking, the number of athletes seeking evidence-based mental health intervention has been predicted to increase. In this context, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) established the national Mental Health Referral Network. The network comprises registered mental health professionals (psychologists) and is led by the AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement branch. This case study describes the development and implementation of this network, including the service-provider procurement process and strategic consultation provided by Orygen. Details are provided for international bodies seeking to undertake similar initiatives. Reflections on program implementation highlight opportunities for expansion and data capture, informing future education-based initiatives.

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“Don’t Be Stupid, Stupid!” Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Irrational Beliefs and Enhance Focus in a Youth Tennis Player

Richard A. Sille, Martin J. Turner, and Martin R. Eubank

This case reports the intervention approach the first author adopted while working with a youth tennis player. The athlete held irrational beliefs and was struggling to maintain emotional control. The neophyte sport psychology practitioner adopted a cognitive-behavioral approach to practice. The intervention focused on (a) using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to replace unhelpful beliefs about unforced errors with a new rational philosophy and (b) using a distraction-control plan to restructure the player’s thoughts and beliefs in relation to opponents’ perceived gamesmanship. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated through qualitative data from the athlete and his parents and the reflections of the practitioner. Feedback suggests that REBT and distraction-control plans can be effective in helping youth athletes manage their thought patterns and improve emotional control during competition. This case also demonstrates the importance of practitioners’ having a flexible and adaptable approach to practice—one that meets individual client needs.

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Exploring the Life Form of a Student Athlete Afforded by a Dual Career Development Environment in Finland

Natalia Korhonen, Aku Nikander, and Tatiana V. Ryba

The current paper introduces a case study conducted in one of the most well-established athletic talent development environments in Finland, with the focus on the environment’s ecological dynamics and organizational culture, in light of its recent effort to rebrand itself as a dual career development environment. Our analysis has been inspired by the holistic ecological approach and ecological dynamics, wherein the authors have considered a dual career development environment from the point of view of its transactions with agentic individuals and affordances for student athletes in the study domain, the sports domain, and the private domain. The authors believe our findings can provide other sports environments with insight into what to consider when transforming the organizational culture of an environment to better aid their student athletes in realizing their dual career goals.

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Extreme Sport, Identity, and Well-Being: A Case Study and Narrative Approach to Elite Skyrunning

Kerry R. McGannon, Lara Pomerleau-Fontaine, and Jenny McMahon

Although extreme-sport athletes’ experiences have been explored in sport psychology, more research is needed to understand the nuanced identity meanings for these athletes in the context of health and well-being. A case-study approach grounded in narrative inquiry was used to explore identity meanings of 1 elite extreme-sport athlete (i.e., skyrunner Kilian Jornet) in relation to well-being. Data gleaned from 4 documentary films and 10 autobiographical book chapters describing the Summits of My Life project were subjected to a thematic narrative analysis. Two intersecting narratives—discovery and relational—threaded the summits project and were used by Jornet to construct an “ecocentric” identity intertwined with nature in fluid ways, depending on 3 relationships related to well-being: the death of climbing partner Stéphane Brosse, team members’ shared values, and her relationship with partner Emelie Forsberg. An expansion of identity, health, and well-being research on extreme-sport athletes beyond simplistic portrayals of them as pathological risk takers and/or motivated by personality traits was gained from these findings.

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Facilitating Sports and University Study: The Case of a Dual Career Development Environment in Sweden

Lukas Linnér, Natalia Stambulova, Louise Kamuk Storm, Andreas Kuettel, and Kristoffer Henriksen

This case study of a dual career development environment (DCDE) was informed by the holistic ecological approach (HEA) and aimed at (a) providing a holistic description of a DCDE at university level in Sweden and (b) investigating the perceived factors influencing the environment’s effectiveness in facilitating the development of student-athletes. The authors blended in situ observations, interviews, and document analysis to explore the case, and HEA-informed working models were transformed into empirical models summarizing the case. Findings show a well-coordinated DCDE with the key role of coaches in daily dual career support and how efforts were integrated through a dual career-support team sharing a philosophy of facilitating healthy performance development and life balance, with a whole-person and empowerment approach. This study adds to the literature by identifying features of a successful DCDE, and insights from the case can be useful for practitioners in their quest to optimize their DCDEs and support.

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“I Can’t Teach You to Be Taller”: How Canadian, Collegiate-Level Coaches Construct Talent in Sport

Justine Jones, Kathryn Johnston, and Joseph Baker

Talent identification and development are two of the most critical, yet underexplored, areas in sport sciences. Despite its importance to a host of sport stakeholders, there is a void in our understanding of how coaches construct talent. In an effort to learn more, semistructured interviews were conducted with nine (one female and eight male) collegiate-level coaches from a single Canadian institution. Social constructionism was utilized as the theoretical framework to guide this research. Reflexive thematic analysis generated two main themes: “what talent looks like” and “how talent behaves.” For the former, two subthemes, physical and psychological attributes, were highlighted through the coaches’ experiences as qualities they believe talented athletes may present. The latter reflected opinions that talent may be multidimensional and context-specific in nature. Interestingly, the coaches suggested the context and circumstances of collegiate sport may nudge them to consider other elements (i.e., academic standing, years to degree completion) during talent identification that are unique to this context. Future work in this area could seek to study other populations of coaches to provide a deeper analysis of how talent is situated in relation to different sociocultural worlds.