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Sport Psychology Practitioners’ Contributions to the Drafting Process of a Professional Esports Team: A Case Study

Jonathan Brain, Oliver Wright, Alessandro Quartiroli, and Christopher R.D. Wagstaff

The role of sport psychology practitioners in contributing to the drafting process of athletes in teams, by providing their input on athletes’ psychological makeup, has become a common practice. Similar to traditional sport, esport organizations also engage in drafting periods to identify the next talents. Yet, a paucity of literature exists examining practitioners’ experiences of operating during such trial periods in the esport context. In this case study, we outline our process of being involved as sport and exercise psychologists in training during a professional National Overwatch team draft period for the 2023 Overwatch World Cup. As a supplementary resource to help staff during the selection process, we created player psychological profiles by assessing their psychological qualities through formal observation. Following the trials, we established an after-care service to support released players to monitor their well-being. We discuss the various hurdles we experienced during the trial period as sport and exercise psychologists in training by sharing a series of reflections.

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Same Game, Many Cultures: A Multicultural Reflection on a Trainee’s Intervention Work With a Professional Esports Team

Anjali Agrawal, Sahen Gupta, and Laura Swettenham

This applied case study aims to explore the experience and multicultural reflections of a trainee sport and exercise psychologist working with a professional, multicultural esports team. We showcase the context of the case with a League of Legends team, consisting of five players, along with the intervention conducted. The case is supplemented by critical reflections on practice in a multicultural context from learning logs and applied practice notes with the T-R-E-E-S model for multicultural practice in sport psychology. This study delves into several critical aspects, namely: (a) recognizing multicultural elements, (b) customizing interventions to the dynamic esports environment, (c) scrutinizing how language and culture impact team cohesion, and (d) considering individual boundaries in personal-disclosure interventions. Finally, as one of the first case studies to reflect on multicultural practice in esports, we provide key recommendations and implications to promote multicultural work in research and applied practice in esports.

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“But I Am a Runner”: Trying to Be a Rogerian Person-Centered Practitioner With an Injured Athlete

Steven Vaughan, Hayley E. McEwan, and Amy E. Whitehead

This reflective case study presents the experience of a trainee sport and exercise psychologist during a period of applied consultancy with an injured runner. This was the trainee’s first consultancy experience attempting to practice from a Rogerian/classic person-centered perspective. As a trainee, his sport psychology delivery process followed academic and professional training models. After identifying an incongruence relating to the client’s identity as a runner, Rogers’s rejection of formulation and intervention led to tensions. Drawing on sport and counseling psychology literature to guide reflection and approach, maintaining a relationship between client and practitioner consistent with Rogers’s necessary conditions of change was the intervention. The trainee’s reflections consider being challenged by conflicts between philosophy and training requirements, their limited practice experience, and responding to the client during sessions that sometimes felt inconsistent with person-centered principles. Ultimately, the client reported moving toward being a more authentic self by contextualizing running as only one aspect of their life.

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Nichola Kentzer in Conversation With Göran Kenttä: Recipient of the 2022 Association for Applied Sport Psychology Distinguished Professional Practice Award

Nichola Kentzer and Göran Kenttä

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Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Develop Self-Confidence in a Neurodivergent Athlete

Samuel Wood and Martin J. Turner

This case study outlines the sport psychology service delivery provided to a 17-year-old international-level competitive figure skater. The client had a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder and reported experiencing low self-confidence, which hindered his performance in training and competition. An acceptance and commitment therapy intervention was implemented over 25 sessions across a 15-month period. The aim of the intervention was to develop self-confidence by encouraging acceptance of unhelpful thoughts, rather than changing or removing them, to move the client toward the athlete he wanted to be. This case offers a novel contribution to the wider literature by reporting an acceptance and commitment therapy intervention to develop self-confidence in sport. We report how psychological flexibility was achieved through exercises to “unhook” the client from his thoughts around perfection and self-imposed pressure. Reflections from the client and practitioner capture the evaluation of the service delivery process.

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“Don’t Just Speak About It, Be About It”: Rebecca Busanich in Conversation With Shannon Baird on Choosing the Principled Path as a Practitioner

Rebecca Busanich and Shannon Baird

Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology (CSSEP) is committed to showcasing the stories and experiences of practitioners and researchers in sport and exercise psychology, recognizing their importance and contribution to growth and development in our field. In line with this mission, several CSSEP Editorial Board members sought to interview practitioners in the field as a way to highlight their stories and experiences. Dr. Shannon Baird’s story demonstrates the importance of theory-driven knowledge in applied work, the power of passion and self-drive in forging a new path forward, and the relentless pursuit of a principled and purposeful career. In conversation with Dr. Rebecca Busanich, Dr. Baird describes her journey through mental performance consulting in the military and U.S. Special Forces.

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Life as a Sport Psych Nomad: Thierry Middleton in Conversation With Shameema Yousuf on Advocating for Change as a Sport Psychologist

Thierry R.F. Middleton and Shameema M. Yousuf

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The Dad and the Lad: Who Is My Client?

Scott Whitfield, Nick Wadsworth, and Joanne Butt

This article discusses an applied case study with a young footballer and his father. Contacted initially to offer psychological support to the athlete, after conducting his needs analysis, the practitioner was left questioning who his client really was. This paper outlines how the practitioner arrived at the decision to work with the father rather than the athlete, before reflecting on how his own experience as a young athlete fueled his commitment to work with this case. Drawing upon acceptance and commitment therapy, the intervention’s aim was to increase the father’s psychological flexibility and explore ways he could better support his son. The evaluation suggested that working alongside the practitioner helped the father (a) gain clarity with regard to what was important to him as a parent and (b) begin to behave in a manner that was more aligned to his son’s needs. By virtue of the changes he observed in his father, the young athlete also discussed the implications this had for his own mindset and performance.

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Using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Approach to Overcome Distractive Overthinking With a High School Baseball Player

Samuel Wood and Martin J. Turner

The present paper outlines a case study in sport psychology service delivery provided to a 16-year-old high school baseball player. The client reported experiencing distraction from overthinking in training and competition, which hindered his concentration and performance. An acceptance and commitment therapy intervention was implemented over 10 sessions across a 5-month period. The aim of the intervention was to overcome anxiety by encouraging acceptance of unhelpful thoughts, rather than changing or removing them, and helping the client focus on moving toward the athlete he wanted to be. This case offers a novel contribution to the wider literature by reporting an acceptance and commitment therapy intervention addressing performance anxiety in sport. We report how psychological flexibility was achieved through exercises to “unhook” the client from his thoughts around perfection and self-imposed pressure. Reflections from the client and practitioner capture the evaluation of the service delivery process.

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Supporting a National Team During the Overwatch World Cup: Three Confessional Tales

Jonathan Brain, Oliver Wright, Alessandro Quartiroli, and Christopher R.D. Wagstaff

There is currently a lack of understanding of how sport psychology practitioners navigate the nuances of working within the esports domain in the applied sport psychology literature. Therefore, the current case study provides three confessional tales, which aim to outline the unique experiences of two sport and exercise psychologists in training, working with a national Overwatch esports team during the World Cup preparation period. We first provide contextual elements of the World Cup format, the roster, the team’s needs, and the program of work. In the form of confessional tales, we share a series of critical reflections concerning the challenges and nuances we experienced, specifically: (a) the limited time afforded to deliver our services, (b) the misalignment in values experienced with the players and staff in the organization, and (c) working without visual cues with the members of the team. We conclude this case study by providing a series of recommendations for practitioners seeking to work with elite esports teams preparing for high-level competitions while delivering ethical and effective services.