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Johannes Raabe, Andrew D. Bass, Lauren K. McHenry and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek

Approximately 90% of players in Minor League Baseball will be released at some point in their career. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the role of individuals’ basic psychological needs during the release from professional baseball and throughout their subsequent transition to a new career. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 former Minor League Baseball players. Thematic analysis generated four themes: (a) The release resulted in immediate but temporary basic psychological need thwarting, (b) the “liberating experience” of the release allowed individuals to perceive autonomy in the transition out of affiliated baseball, (c) perceptions of competence served as the foundation for a positive transition to a new career, and (d) meaningful connections fostered individuals’ perception of relatedness in the transition out of affiliated baseball. The findings suggest that need fulfillment might act as a buffer between potential stressors in the transition process and athletes’ cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response.

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Judit Balogh and Gabriella Trzaskoma-Bicsérdy

Sports coaching is traditionally a male-dominated profession all over the world, though there is no explicit evidence that either gender outperforms the other in this profession. The current paper aimed to uncover the differences between female and male coaches regarding their pedagogical and professional beliefs. A total of 357 basketball coaches (30.8% women and 69.2% men) working in Hungary responded to an online questionnaire. A background analysis of the sample revealed that most of the coaches manage youth teams and that women coach younger age groups than men. Female coaches proved to be more educated than their male counterparts, both in general and on a professional level. The results showed that, regardless of gender, the coaches were well aware of their pedagogical functions. Significant differences were found in terms of relationships, personal development, motivation, and discipline; the women reported higher values in all cases. Female coaches were also more concerned about factors that help gain respect and appreciation. Based on the results, education, qualifications, and pedagogical and professional views of coaches do not justify the underrepresentation of women in sports coaching. Club managers, sports federation boards, and other decision makers should promote programs that are aimed at engaging more women in sports coaching.

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Nicholas A. Koemel, Christina M. Sciarrillo, Katherine B. Bode, Madison D. Dixon, Edralin A. Lucas, Nathaniel D.M. Jenkins and Sam R. Emerson

The consumption of a high-fat meal can induce postprandial lipemia and endothelial dysfunction. The authors assessed the impact of age and physical activity on metabolic and vascular outcomes following meal consumption in healthy adults. The authors recruited four groups: younger active (age 22.1 ± 1.4 years; n = 9), younger inactive (age 22.6 ± 3.7 years; n = 8), older active (age 68.4 ± 7.7 years; n = 8), and older inactive (age 67.7 ± 7.2 years; n = 7). The metabolic outcomes were measured at the baseline and hourly for 6 hr post high-fat meal consumption (12 kcal/kg; 63% fat). Flow-mediated dilation was measured at the baseline, 2 hr, and 4 hr postmeal. The total area under the curve for triglycerides was significantly lower in the more active groups, but did not differ based on age (younger active = 6.5 ± 1.4 mmol/L × 6 hr, younger inactive = 11.7 ± 4.8, older active = 6.8 ± 2.7, older inactive = 12.1 ± 1.7; p = .0004). After adjusting for artery diameter, flow-mediated dilation differed between groups at the baseline (younger active = 4.8 ± 1.6%, younger inactive = 2.5 ± 0.5, older active = 3.4 ± 0.9, older inactive = 2.2 ± 0.4; p < .001) and decreased significantly across groups 4 hr postmeal (mean difference = 0.82; 95% CI [0.02, 1.6]; p = .04). These findings highlight the beneficial effect of regular physical activity on postprandial lipemia, independent of age.

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Alessandro Quartiroli, Justine Vosloo, Leslee Fisher and Robert Schinke

Cultural competence, identified as the ability to understand other cultures and being aware of one’s own cultural assumptions, has been found to be important for sport psychology professionals (SPPs). In the current study, one of a few exploring the SPPs’ own perceived cultural competence, a sample of 203 SPPs completed an online survey examining the perceptions of their own levels of cultural competence. Most participants reported receiving formal training in cultural competence. However, this training was perceived as only moderately effective and only able to predict the reported level of the SPPs’ perceived cultural competence in a limited way. These results could be attributed to the reported lack of support for SPPs engaging in culturally centered self-reflective practice and to the limited role that these factors have played in training programs. Additional findings are described and discussed, along with recommendations for professional development and applied training.

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Sarah P. McLean, Christine M. Habeeb, Pete Coffee and Robert C. Eklund

Efficacy beliefs and communication are key constructs that have been targeted to develop task cohesion. This study’s purpose was to (a) examine whether collective efficacy, team-focused other-efficacy, and team-focused relation-inferred self-efficacy are predictive of task cohesion and (b) evaluate the possibility that communication mediates efficacy–task cohesion relationships. British university team-sport athletes (N = 250) completed questionnaires assessing efficacy beliefs, communication (i.e., positive conflict, negative conflict, and acceptance communication), and task cohesion (i.e., attractions to group, group integration). Data were subjected to a multigroup path analysis to test mediation hypotheses while also addressing potential differences across males and females. Across all athletes, collective efficacy and team-focused other-efficacy significantly predicted attractions to group and group integration directly. Positive conflict and acceptance communication significantly mediated relationships between efficacy (team-focused other-efficacy, collective efficacy) and cohesion (attractions to group, group integration). Findings suggest that enhancing athletes’ collective efficacy and team-focused efficacy beliefs will encourage communication factors affecting task cohesion.

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Matthew J. Smith and Oliver R. Runswick

In elite sport, research has highlighted the significant incidence of athletes experiencing mental ill health. The aim of the present study was to make sense of stories that elite athletes tell about experiencing mental ill health through sampling the autobiographies of four male, elite cricketers. In each book, the player spoke in detail about mental ill health and how this impacted on their international career. Horizontal and vertical analyses of the data resulted in six progressive themes being identified, from Early Warning Signs, Fluctuations of Mental Health, Build-up to the Severe Incident, the Severe Incident, the Recovery Process, to Relapsing. The findings are considered in line with how they might be used to meet the call to develop mental health literacy, in aiming to help coaches and other psychology support staff understand more about the process of athletes who experience mental ill health across their career.

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Kendra Nelson Ferguson and Craig Hall

Biofeedback is among the various self-regulation techniques that mental performance consultants can utilize in their practice with athletes. Biofeedback produces psychophysiological assessments in real time to enhance awareness of thoughts and emotions. Quantitatively, research shows that biofeedback can facilitate self-regulation, allowing an athlete to gain control over psychophysiological responses that could be detrimental to performance. With technology becoming a widespread tool in monitoring psychophysiological states, an exploration of consultants’ use of biofeedback, their perceptions of effectiveness, and limitations of their use was warranted to qualitatively evaluate efficiency of the tool. A qualitative descriptive approach was taken through semistructured interviews with 10 mental performance consultants. Inductive reasoning uncovered three themes: positive implications, practical limitations, and equipment options. With biofeedback, athletes have the ability to develop a deeper level of self-awareness and thereby facilitate the use of self-regulation strategies intended for optimal performance states and outcomes.

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Dawn Scott, Dean Norris and Ric Lovell

Purpose: To examine the dose–response relationship between match-play high-speed running (HSR), very high-speed running (VHSR), and sprint (SPR) distances versus subsequent ratings of fatigue and soreness. Methods: Thirty-six outfield players competing in the professional National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL, United States) with a minimum of five 90-minute match observations were monitored during the 2016 and 2017 seasons (408 match observations, 11 [6]/player). HSR (≥3.47 m·s−1), VHSR (≥5.28 m·s−1), and SPR (≥6.25 m·s−1) were determined generically (GEN) in players using a 10-Hz global positioning system. HSR, VHSR, and SPR speed thresholds were also reconfigured according to player peak speed per se and in combination with the final velocity achieved in the 30:15 Intermittent Fitness Test (locomotor approach to establishing individual speed zones). On the morning following matches (match day [MD + 1]), players recorded subjective wellness ratings of fatigue and soreness using 7-point Likert scales. Results: Fatigue (−2.32; 95% CI, −2.60 to −2.03 au; P < .0001) and soreness (−2.05; 95% CI, −2.29 to −1.81; P < .0001) ratings worsened on MD + 1. Standardized unit changes in HSRGEN (fatigue: −0.05; 95% CI, −0.11 to 0.02 and soreness: −0.02, 95% CI, −0.07 to 0.04) and VHSRGEN (fatigue: −0.06; 95% CI, −0.12 to 0.00 and soreness: −0.04; 95% CI, −0.10 to 0.02) had no influence on wellness ratings at MD + 1. Individualized speed thresholds did not improve the model fit. Conclusions: Subjective ratings of fatigue and wellness are not sensitive to substantial within-player changes in match physical performance. HSR, VHSR, and SPR thresholds customized for individual players’ athletic qualities did not improve the dose–response relationship between external load and wellness ratings.

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Gianluca Vernillo, Adrien Mater, Gregory Doucende, Johan Cassirame and Laurent Mourot

Purpose: To study the consequences of a fatiguing ultratrail run of 6 hours on self-optimizing capability during uphill and downhill (DR) running. Methods: The authors collected temporal stride kinematics and metabolic data in 8 (experimental group) male runners before and after the ultratrail run and in 6 (control group) male ultramarathon runners who did not run but stayed awake and performed normal, daily physical activities avoiding strenuous exercises over the 6-hour period. For each subject, preferred and optimal stride frequencies were measured, where stride frequency was systematically varied above and below the preferred one (±4% and ±8%) while running 3 conditions on level, 5% uphill, or 5% DR in a randomized order. Results: Preferred and optimal stride frequencies across grade, group, and time showed no significant differences (P ≥ .184). Metabolic cost and the energetically optimum metabolic cost showed a grade × group × time interaction (P ≥ .011), with an ∼11% increase in the 2 variables only during the DR bouts (P ≥ .037). Conclusions: Despite maintaining similar dynamics of stride frequency adjustments during the DR bout, the experimental group was not able to optimize its gait. This suggests that the DR section of ultratrail runs can introduce a perturbing factor in the runners’ optimization process, highlighting the need for incorporating DR bouts in the training programs of ultratrail runners to minimize the deleterious effects of DR on the energetically optimal gait.

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Laurent Schmitt, Stéphane Bouthiaux and Grégoire P. Millet

Purpose: To report the changes in the training characteristics, performance, and heart-rate variability (HRV) of the world’s most successful male biathlete of the last decade. Method: During the analyzed 11-year (2009–2019) period, the participant won 7 big crystal globes, corresponding to the winner of the International Biathlon Union World Cup. The training characteristics are reported as yearly volume (in hours) of low-intensity training (LIT), moderate- and high-intensity training, and speed and strength training. Performance was quantified by the number of World Cup top-3 positions per season. HRV was expressed as low- and high-frequency spectral power (in milliseconds squared), root-mean-square difference of successive R–R interval (in milliseconds), and heart rate (in beats per minute). Results: The training volume increased from 530 to ∼700 hours per year in 2009–2019, with a large polarization in training intensity distribution (ie, LIT 86.3% [2.9%]; moderate-intensity training 3.4% [1.5%]; high-intensity training 4.0% [0.7%]; strength 6.3% [1.6%]). The number of top-3 positions increased from 2 to 24–26 in 2009–2018 but decreased to 6 in 2019. The mean supine values in the root-mean-square difference of successive R–R interval and high-frequency spectral power divided by heart rate increased until 2015, which were stable over 2016–2018 but decreased in 2019. The number of top-3 positions was related to the total (r = .66, P = .02) and LIT (r = .92, P < .001) volume and to several markers of supine parasympathetic activity. Conclusion: The improvement in performance of the participant was mainly determined by the progressive increase in training volume, especially performed at low intensity, and was correlated to parasympathetic activity markers. This case study confirms the effectiveness of the training method, with a large amount of LIT in an elite endurance athlete, and of regular HRV monitoring.