The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to examine male competitive figure skaters’ experiences of weight pressure in sport. Specifically, male skaters’ perceptions of the ideal skating body, sources of weight pressure in elite figure skating, and the perceived role of their sport in shaping body image, athletic performance, eating, and exercise behaviors were explored. Through a social constructivist lens, an inductive thematic analysis was used to examine the contextual influences of the skating environment. Thirteen male figure skaters ages 16–24 (M = 18.53, SD = 3.33) with an average 10.38 years of skating experience (SD = 4.05) were interviewed. Skaters identified the parameters for the ideal body in skating along with specific weight pressures, body image concerns, and weight management strategies. Similar to female skaters, male skaters perceived that body image affected psychological factors that influence sport performance. Sport psychologists and consultants should be attentive to the skating environment and how specific performance and appearance demands may influence an athlete’s mindset.
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
Taylor K. Wise
Disordered eating (DE) plays a significant role in the overall health and athletic performance of collegiate athletes. The present study sought to determine how many NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision Institutions have a policy that specifically addresses the prevention and management of DE for their participating athletes and to examine the content of the existing policies. The study searched for policies in the 128 FBS institutions through an online web-search and by contacting athletic department personnel. A total of 33 currently existing policies on athletes with eating disorders (EDs) were found, 13 of which were found online. A documentary analysis was then conducted to determine the type of information that policies include. Sixteen major themes were found throughout the analysis, including themes that related to prevention, risk factors, identification, treatment, referral, and return-to-play guidelines.
Sheryl Miller and Mary Fry
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of students’ perceptions of the motivational climate in their university exercise class to their body esteem (BE) and social physique anxiety (SPA). Students in physical activity classes at a Midwestern university completed a survey measuring their perceptions of the caring, task- and ego-involving features of the exercise class climate, BE (i.e., weight and appearance), and SPA. Canonical correlation analysis revealed one significant function for males and females. Loadings revealed males’ perceptions of a highly caring and task-involving climate with low emphasis on ego-involving climate features were associated with higher weight and appearance BE and lower SPA. Females were similar except the ego-involving climate did not significantly contribute to the model. Continued research may examine the link between motivational climate and BE, but mounting evidence suggests creating positive exercise environments is associated with participants’ adaptive responses, including BE and SPA.
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
The number of studies examining eating disorders and body image in sport has increased, although several major challenges associated with conducting this research must be addressed to continue growth. In this paper, we describe these challenges based on our professional experiences and the academic literature. Mistrust of researchers and the area of study, communication gaps, and factors that affect data quality are among the strong barriers discussed. However, we suggest that these challenges may be addressed by building stronger partnerships between researchers and practitioners and offer critical steps for developing meaningful professional relationships that will help move the field forward.
Laura K. Fewell, Riley Nickols, Amanda Schlitzer Tierney, and Cheri A. Levinson
Understanding the unique needs of athletes who undergo eating disorder (ED) treatment is sorely needed. This study explores changes of strength and power in athlete (n = 21) and non-athlete (n = 36) patients from intake to discharge. Maximal oxygen consumption, vertical jump, push-ups, hand grip strength, and body mass index (in anorexia nervosa; AN) were measured among treatment center patients. The number of push-ups and hand grip strength were significantly improved upon discharge in the full sample (ps < .005) and in AN only (ps < .001). Body mass index was also significantly higher in AN (p < .001). Maximal oxygen consumption and vertical jump did not significantly improve between admission and discharge in either group (ps > .40). This study is the first to investigate measures of strength in athletes engaged in intensive eating disorder treatment and indicates the need to address the psychological mindset around physical activity using exercise education as part of a comprehensive program. Recommendations for incorporating exercise into an intensive ED treatment center are also provided.
Renee Engeln, Margaret Shavlik, and Colleen Daly
Two-hundred and three college women participated in a 16-minute strength and conditioning group fitness class. Participants were randomly assigned to a class that featured either appearance-focused motivational comments by the instructor (e.g., “Blast that cellulite!”) or function-focused comments (e.g., “Think of how strong you are getting!”). Body satisfaction from pre-test to post-test increased overall, but those in the function-focused (as opposed to appearance-focused) condition experienced a significantly greater increase in body satisfaction. A similar pattern was observed for positive affect. Additionally, those in the function-focused condition described the class in more positive terms and reported experiencing less body surveillance during the class. These findings are consistent with research suggesting that exercise can improve mood and body satisfaction, but also suggest that a more function-focused class can lead to even greater improvements. The motivational comments fitness instructors use may have a notable impact on women’s mood, body satisfaction, and body surveillance.
Jessyca N. Arthur-Cameselle and Molly Curcio
The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify turning points in eating disorder recovery in collegiate female athletes compared to non-athletes. The sample included 12 varsity athletes and 17 non-athlete college students who previously met criteria for Anorexia Nervosa (AN; n = 17); Bulimia Nervosa (BN; n = 3); Binge Eating Disorder (n = 1); or both AN and BN (n = 8). Participants completed individual interviews and responses were analyzed inductively. There was some commonality in the athletes’ and non-athletes’ experiences. For example, the most frequent turning point for both groups was Insight/Self Realization. Regarding the next three most frequent turning points, athletes reported Sport Performance, Confrontation, and Support/Concern from Others, whereas non-athletes reported Professional Treatment, Hitting a Low, and Support/Concern from Others. This study contributes to the sparse literature on competitive athletes’ recovery. Results indicated that athletes’ turning points differed from non-athletes; therefore, findings are discussed concerning athlete-specific treatment recommendations and suggestions for coaches.
Alexander T. Latinjak
This two-study project provided a brief description of athletes’ experiences with mind wandering. Study 1 aimed to quantitatively examine mind wandering in sports, in terms of frequency, effects and perceived control. Therefore, 94 athletes (M age = 19.51, SD = 1.65) answered a specifically designed 19-item questionnaire. The results suggested that mind wandering is a common phenomenon in sports, with both beneficial and adverse effects on performance. Study 2 aimed to qualitatively explore when athletes use mind wandering. Accordingly, 115 athletes (M age = 22.82, SD = 3.61) described one recent mind wandering situation while practicing sport. A hierarchical content analysis was performed by the first author and confirmed by an external expert. The results indicated that mind wandering occurred in a wide range of situations in sport and physical activity. Nonetheless, it was also argued that future studies should more carefully define mind wandering to avoid confusion with related terms.
Rosanna Gilderthorp, Jan Burns, and Fergal Jones
It has been shown that having intellectual disabilities impacts to reduce performance compared to athletes without this impairment. However, it has also been demonstrated that there is a not a direct link between intelligence and athletic performance. To advance elite ID sport more needs to be understood about the relationship between this impairment and sporting performance. This is vital if competition classification systems are to be based on theory and evidence. This study used the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as an approach to classification and examined the impact of multiple health problems on athletic performance. A health survey was administered to two groups of athletes with ID: elite and regional level athletes. Athletes with Down Syndrome were also identified. Overall disability scores predicted sporting performance, but not IQ or Down Syndrome. The implications of these findings are discussed with reference to the ICF framework and classification.