Research has supported mindfulness as a predictor of athletic success. This study used a parallel trial design to examine the benefit of a brief one-session mindfulness training for performance on an individual, nonpacing, closed skill athletic task (i.e., golf putting). All participants (N = 65) answered questionnaires and engaged in two trials of the putting task. Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group using a simple randomization strategy. Between trials, the intervention group received a mindfulness intervention. Mindfulness intervention included psychoeducation, reflection upon previous sport experiences, an experiential exercise, and putting applications. Repeated-measures ANOVAs demonstrated that the intervention group exhibited more successful outcomes on objective putting performance, flow state experience, and state anxiety (p < .05). Results suggest mindfulness may prevent performance deterioration and could produce psychological benefits after a brief training session.
Joanne E. Perry, Michael Ross, Jeremiah Weinstock and Terri Weaver
Stacy L. Gnacinski, William V. Massey, Courtney W. Hess, Mellanie M. Nai, Monna Arvinen-Barrow and Barbara B. Meyer
To enhance the specificity of psychological skills training (PST) interventions, the purpose of the current study was to examine stage of change and gender differences in the combination of transtheoretical model (TTM) constructs (i.e., decisional balance pros and cons, self-efficacy, cognitive and behavioral processes of change) among collegiate student-athletes. Participants (N = 602) completed all TTM measures, and a factorial multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to examine the effects of stage of change and gender on the combination of TTM constructs. No significant interaction effect was identified, yet significant main effects of stage of change and gender were identified. Post hoc tests revealed unique linear combinations of decisional balance, self-efficacy, and processes of change for each stage of change contrast. Taken together, study findings may be used to enhance the specificity of behavior change interventions when delivering PST programs to both male and female collegiate student-athletes.
Jack A. G. Marlow and Mark Uphill
This study explored the characteristics, contextual factors and consequences of counterfactual thoughts in seven elite athletes using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Counterfactuals were experienced regularly with self-directed and upward counterfactuals (cognitions about how things could be better) being most frequent. These upward counterfactuals typically occurred following performance that was below participants’ goals and expectations. These thoughts were perceived by participants to have a negative affect initially, and that they then led to facilitative behavioral consequences around learning and development. Some elements of counterfactual thinking could be used as a useful reflective tool to encourage elite athletes to problem solve and motivate cognitive, emotional and behavioral change to enhance future performance.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt and Ian Maynard
The purpose of this study was to explore how sport and exercise psychologists working in sport understand and use motivational interviewing (MI). Eleven practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and inductive thematic analysis identified themes linked to explicit use of MI, such as building engagement and exploring ambivalence to change; the value of MI, such as enhancing the relationship, rolling with resistance and integrating with other approaches; and barriers to the implementation of MI in sport psychology, such as a limited evidence-base in sport. Findings also indicated considerable implicit use of MI by participants, including taking an athlete-centered approach, supporting athlete autonomy, reflective listening, demonstrating accurate empathy, and taking a nonprescriptive, guiding role. This counseling style appears to have several tenets to enhance current practice in sport psychology, not least the enhancement of therapeutic alliance.
Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek
Coaching is characterized by an inherent pathos between the goals coaches hope to accomplish and those that are realized (Jones & Wallace, 2005). Coaches can actively enhance the likelihood of optimal outcomes through orchestration, a process of incremental coping intended to create improvement in performance (Jones & Wallace, 2005). The current study explored to what extent pathos also manifests in the lives of elite athletes and whether they engage in processes consistent with orchestration. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. Primarily deductive analysis of the qualitative data provided confirmation for four domains: (a) sources of ambiguity created by coaches, (b) other sources of ambiguity within student-athletes’ experiences, (c) attempted strategies for orchestrating the pathos, and (d) relationships are crucial for navigating the pathos. The findings potentially offer an approach to understanding the challenges athletes face, which allows coaches to more accurately provide assistance.
Thomas Davies, Andrew Cruickshank and Dave Collins
Recent retrospective research has identified effective meso-level thoughts and behaviors for high level golfers (i.e., those deployed between shots and holes). However, how such thoughts and behaviors are actually used during this phase of performance and, or if, they vary in different contexts is unknown. Accordingly, real-time observations followed by stimulated recall interviews were used to examine the meso-level processes used by high-level golfers during competition. Results indicated use of the same pre2- and post-shot routines identified in prior retrospective research but with key differences in the content and application of some of their stages relative to shot outcome. These similarities and differences are discussed along with implications for practitioners: including the importance of developing metacognitive skills, and prioritizing the development of performance expertise over performance competencies for high-level golfers at the meso-level of performance.
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Peter Olusoga and Göran Kenttä
This study investigated how the experiences of two elite coaches contributed to and shaped their stories of burnout and withdrawal from high performance coaching. The coaches whose narratives we explore were both middle-aged head coaches, one in a major team sport at the highest club level, and one in an individual Olympic sport at international level. Through a thematic narrative analysis, based on in-depth interviews, the stories of the two coaches are presented in four distinct sections: antecedents, experiences of coaching with burnout symptoms, withdrawal from sport, and the process of recovery and personal growth. These narratives have implications for high performance coaching, such as the importance of role clarity, work-home inference, counseling, mentoring, and social support as means to facilitate recovery, and the need for additional research with coaches who have left sport, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complete burnout-recovery process.
Véronique Richard, Wayne Halliwell and Gershon Tenenbaum
The study examined the effect of an improvisation intervention on figure skating performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness skills. Nine elite figure skaters participated in a 10-session program based on Cirque du Soleil artistic principles. A mixed methodology using questionnaires, competition scores, and interviews was used to test the program effects on these variables. Descriptive statistics revealed small but imperative increases in competition performance, perceived artistic performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness. Significant (p < .05) effect of time was revealed only for creativity and artistic performance variables. Qualitative data supported these results. Skaters described verbally that movements were performed more freely, attention was better focused on performance, and they overcame shyness. Quantitative and qualitative data are discussed interactively in relation to performance enhancement and personal growth.
Saqib Deen, Martin James Turner and Rebecca S.K. Wong
The use of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) in sport psychology has received little attention in research to date, but is steadily growing. Therefore, to further add to the building body of research, this study examines the efficacy of REBT (comprising five counseling sessions, and four homework assignments) in decreasing self-reported irrational beliefs, and increasing self-reported resilient qualities in five elite squash players from Malaysia. The study uses a single-case multiple-baseline across-participants design. Visual and graphical analyses revealed that REBT reduced self-reported irrational beliefs significantly in all athletes, and raised self-reported resilient qualities significantly in some athletes. Athlete’s feedback, reflections on the usage of REBT, Athlete Rational Resilience Credos, and the practice of sport psychology across cultures are discussed, along with guidance for the future use of REBT in relevant settings.