In this investigation we describe an individualized approach in the assessment of athletes’ experiences associated with successful and poor performances. Two studies were conducted to develop a profiling procedure to assess eight modalities of performance-related states. In Study 1, six high-level athletes assessed their states before most successful and unsuccessful performances using a preliminary 71-item stimulus list developed by a panel of four emotion researchers. They also rated the intensity of their states on a modified Borg’s CR-10 scale. In Study 2, five top-level divers assessed their states before multiple dives (three successful and three unsuccessful) using a revised 74-item list. The perceived impact on performance was also examined using an open-ended question. Individual profiles reflected two typical curves discriminating successful and unsuccessful performances. High individual variability in item content and intensity was found. Athletes reported a wide range of interrelated experiences associated with their performances. Our findings support the practical utility of individualized profiling to assess athletes’ performance-related states.
Montse C. Ruiz, Yuri Hanin and Claudio Robazza
Robert Weinberg, Valeria Freysinger, Kathleen Mellano and Elizabeth Brookhouse
Most of the data obtained in studying mental toughness has come from athletes, coaches, and sometimes parents. The purpose of the present investigation was to explore sport psychologists’ experiences of building mental toughness and their perceptions of how coaches can build mental toughness in their athletes. A phenomenological approach to qualitative research guided the study. Semistructured qualitative interviews with 15 sport psychologists were conducted. A concept map was developed that illustrates the theme and subthemes that emerged from analysis of the interviews. As indicated, sport psychologists felt that coaches could build mental toughness in their athletes by behaving mindfully, which included putting athletes under adverse situations and providing (teaching) them with the mental skills to effectively cope with these adversities. These results both confirm and extend existing research on how to build mental toughness.
Brendan Cropley, Lee Baldock, Stephen D. Mellalieu, Rich Neil, Christopher Robert David Wagstaff and Ross Wadey
This study aimed to gain an insight into the general coping strategies used by sport psychology consultants (SPCs) based in the UK, and an in-depth understanding of their development and impact. To achieve these aims a mixed-method approach was adopted by means of two linked studies. In study one, BASES accredited and/or BPS chartered SPCs (n = 29) completed the modified COPE inventory (Crocker & Graham, 1995) to gain a better understanding of the general coping strategies used by practitioners. In study two, follow-up interviews (n = 6) with participants sampled from study one were conducted to explore how the reported strategies were developed, the perceived impact of coping/not coping with stressors, and how future SPCs may be better prepared for the stressful nature of consultancy. Findings suggested that the participants had a statistically significant preference to using problem-focused coping strategies. Further, the interviews suggested that coping strategies were primarily developed through reflection on experiences in different contexts. The impacts of coping/not coping and the practical development implications raised are discussed.
Paul A. Sellars, Lynne Evans and Owen Thomas
This study examined the perfectionism experiences of 10 elite perfectionist athletes (5 male and 5 female). Following completion of the Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-2 (Gotwals & Dunn, 2009), a purposeful sample of unhealthy perfectionists were interviewed in relation to the study aims. Several themes emerged from the data that related to: effects of perfectionism and its antecedents on sporting experiences, specificity and level of perfectionism, and the coping skills and techniques used to counter the potentially detrimental effects of perfectionism. The findings highlighted the multidimensional nature of perfectionism and the need for future research to further explore the efficacy of techniques athletes use to promote healthy and reduce unhealthy facets of perfectionism.
Masato Kawabata and Rachel Evans
The present study examined the extent to which scores on the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) could differentiate individuals who experienced flow characteristics in physical activity from those who did not. A total of 1,048 participants completed the Japanese version of the FSS-2. Latent class factor analysis (LCFA), which combines the strengths of both latent class analysis and factor analysis, was conducted on the FSS-2 responses. Four classes were identified through a series of LCFAs and the patterns of the item-average scores for the nine flow attributes were found parallel among these classes. The top two classes (15.1% and 38.9% of the whole sample) were considered the groups who experienced flow characteristics during their physical activities. These results indicated that individuals who experienced flow attributes in physical activity could be differentiated from those who did not based on their FSS-2 scores. Criteria for classifying individuals into the two groups were proposed.
Marjorie Bernier, Christiane Trottier, Emilie Thienot and Jean Fournier
This study aimed to explore attentional foci and their temporal patterns in expert skaters in real competition situations. Individual self-confrontation interviews were held with 8 expert figure skaters while they watched their videotaped program performed in official competitions. Qualitative data analysis revealed that skaters used a substantial number of foci, which were classified by content and characteristics. Event listing was used to display the patterns of foci over time, revealing that skaters used distinct processes to prepare for, perform, and evaluate different program elements. These results highlighted the great flexibility and variability of attentional focus, according to circumstantial factors.
Anna-Marie C. Jaeschke, Michael L. Sachs and Kristen D. Dieffenbach
Ultramarathon running entails coping with unanticipated environmental circumstances and intense physical and psychological fatigue; a sport in which the role of mental toughness can be crucial. This research focused on semistructured interviews with 12 ultramarathon runners who volunteered to discuss their perceptions of mental toughness. The data allowed researchers to gather a multidimensional view of mental toughness from ultramarathon runners’ experiences and perspective in addition to providing a snapshot of the challenges and demands ultrarunners face, as well as ethical concerns associated with athletes pushing themselves beyond their limits. Central themes included: perseverance/persistence, overcoming adversity, perspective, life experience, psychological skills use, and camaraderie in the ultra community. A deeper understanding of mental toughness obtained from a sample of ultramarathon runners can inform consultants working to improve quality or consistency of performance, and become aware of ethical concerns of encouraging athletes to exceed perceptual or actual limitations.
Fran Longstaff and Misia Gervis
This study examined how practitioners who provide sport psychology support use counseling principles and skills to develop practitioner-athlete relationships. Semistructured interviews were conducted with thirteen competent practitioners (Mean age = 41.2 ± 10.9 years old, five men, eight women). Thematic analysis revealed that the participants used a range of counseling principles to develop practitioner-athlete relationships including: the facilitative conditions, self-disclosure, counseling skills, the formation of working alliances, and awareness of the unreal relationship. The participants also described using noncounseling strategies (e.g., gaining an understanding of the athlete’s sporting environment) to build relationships with their athletes. There was considerable variation between the participants both in the training that they had received in counseling principles and skills, and how they applied them. It was concluded that counseling principles and skills play a significant role in the development of practitioner-athlete relationships.
Sandrine Isoard-Gautheur, Emma Guillet-Descas and Henrik Gustafsson
The negative feelings that are part of burnout syndrome may prompt athletes to drop out of their sport. The objective of the current study was therefore to examine the influence of athlete burnout profiles on playing status 6 years later. The participants of this study were 458 boys and girls between 14 and 18 years old (M = 15.44; SD = .95) enrolled in elite handball training centers. Cluster analysis on athlete burnout and multinomial logistic regressions on the playing status were conducted. The results suggest that those individuals with a “higher burnout” profile at Time 1 were more likely to have stopped playing handball 6 years later. It therefore seems important to develop strategies to prevent burnout in young athletes enrolled in elite training structures and to promote long-term engagement and well-being in elite sporting activity.