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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.

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Behind the Curtains of Elite Esports: A Case Study From a Holistic Ecological Approach to Talent Development

Ismael Pedraza-Ramirez, Bernadette Ramaker, Ole Winthereik Mathorne, Matthew Watson, and Sylvain Laborde

This case study utilized the holistic ecological approach to talent development as a framework to examine the structure and influence of an elite League of Legends environment. We conducted semistructured interviews with five elite male players (M age = 20.2, SD age = 2.95) and three elite coaches (M age = 24.67, SD age = 3.21). In addition, observations were implemented in situ to gather important information about the daily life experiences of the esports players and coaches. Findings suggest that this environment’s organizational culture was significantly influenced by interactions within the microenvironment, leading to the development of healthy relationships between players and coaches, impacting development and performance. Given the findings, we offer several salient applied implications for practitioners in elite esports, notably, the importance of understanding a team’s organizational culture alongside working at a one-to-one level. Furthermore, practitioners can educate coaches in optimizing a learning environment and support them in mitigating the challenges of a volatile industry.

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Esports Coaching: Applying a Constraints-Led Approach to Develop Team Coordination and Communication

Kabir Bubna, Michael G. Trotter, and Matthew Watson

The current case study reports on the application of a novel coaching approach in the context of a semiprofessional League of Legends team competing in Europe. The case study aimed to develop the coordinative tendencies of the team by applying a constraints-led approach that manipulated the practice environment to promote specific goal-directed behavior. The present study outlines the objectives of League of Legends, the needs analysis, intervention development, intervention delivery, and feedback from the players in regard to the effectiveness of the intervention and their development. Finally, the present study provides personal reflections from the practitioner, who was applying contemporary skill-acquisition approaches in esports for the first time.

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A Reflective Account of Delivering Multilevel Sport Psychology Support in Professional League of Legends

Matthew Ashford and Laura Swettenham

This case study follows the journey of a trainee sport and exercise psychologist who provided sport psychology support to a top-tier, professional League of Legends team across a competitive season. The purpose of this case study is to highlight some of the pertinent professional and contextual demands associated with the process of embedding a three-level (e.g., individual, team, coach) sport psychology service at the professional level of esports. Specifically, a detailed account of the micro-processes involved in the design and delivery of the sport psychology support are offered, along with critical reflections on the lead author’s professional judgements throughout the case in relation to their model of practice and the contextual factors faced. It is hoped this case study can provide a granular and thoughtful account of how to provide sport psychology support at the professional level in League of Legends.

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A Case Study of a Senior High-Performance Leader Managing Psychological Effects During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Andrew P. Friesen and Tom Patrick

The potential scope for qualified sport psychology service providers is broadening. Recent empirical research and associated commentaries have highlighted the opportunity for applied sport psychology professionals to apply concepts and experiences toward having a positive effect on athletes’ training environment. This case study details a high-performance leader within an Australian national training institute who is also a trained sport psychology practitioner, attempting to optimize psychological effects in the time leading up to the Tokyo 2020 (i.e., 2021) Olympic Games. The objective was to meet or exceed medal targets though the provision of a strong, team-led approach where activity to achieve high-performance outcomes was prioritized but in a manner that leveraged strong professional relationships and through the prioritization of everyone’s mental and emotional health whenever practicably achievable.

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Volume 8 (2024): Issue S1 (Jan 2024): Esports Horizon-Expanding the Realms of Sport and Exercise Psychology