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Nicole T. Gabana, Aaron D’Addario, Matteo Luzzeri, Stinne Soendergaard and Y. Joel Wong

Salient aspects of an athlete’s identity hold implications for how sport psychology practitioners conceptualize and intervene on both the mental health and performance realms of the athlete person. Given that spirituality, religiosity, and gratitude have been associated in previous literature, the current study examined whether athletes differed in dispositional gratitude based on their spiritual and religious identification. Results indicated that among 331 NCAA Division I-III athletes, those who identified as both spiritual and religious scored significantly higher in dispositional gratitude than self-identified spiritual/non-religious and non-spiritual/non-religious athletes. Non-spiritual/non-religious and spiritual/non-religious athletes did not significantly differ in levels of gratitude. Findings and limitations of the current study warrant further investigation on this topic, and recommendations for future research and practice are provided.

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Shelby Waldron, J.D. DeFreese, Brian Pietrosimone, Johna Register-Mihalik and Nikki Barczak

Sport specialization has been linked to multiple negative health related outcomes including increased injury risk and sport attrition, yet a gap remains in our understanding of potential psychological outcomes of early specialization (≤ age 12). The current study evaluated the associations between retrospective athlete reports of sport specialization and both retroactive and current psychological health outcomes. Early specializers reported significantly higher levels of multiple maladaptive psychological outcomes (e.g., global athlete burnout, emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation, amotivation). Overall, findings suggest that specialization environment factors, in addition to the age of specialization, are potentially critical factors in determining health and well-being outcomes. Findings support prominent position statements suggesting early specialization may be associated with increased health risks. Study findings may also inform the development of guidelines and recommendations to aid parents, coaches, and athletes in positively impacting athlete psychosocial outcomes.

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Diane M. Wiese-Bjornstal, Kristin N. Wood, Andrew C. White, Amanda J. Wambach and Victor J. Rubio

The purpose of this study was to explore religiosity/spirituality (R/S) in coping with sport injuries, based on predictions of the integrated model of psychological response to the sport injury and rehabilitation process. A concurrent mixed methods design framed an online survey incorporating quantitative measures of R/S identification and commitment, health locus of control for sport injury, and ways of coping with sport injury, as well as qualitative open-ended questions about mechanisms through which R/S affected and was affected by coping with sport injuries. Participants included 49 physically active adults who experienced sport injuries, with 37 identifying as R/S. Quantitative findings among R/S participants showed religious commitment was a predictor of God health locus of control and positive religious coping. Quantitative results relative to differences between R/S and no-R/S participants showed that those self-identified as R/S relied on a God health locus of control and utilized active coping more so than did those self-identified as no-R/S, whereas no-R/S participants relied more than did R/S participants on an internal health locus of control. Thematic analyses exploring qualitative data revealed three main themes characterizing mechanisms through which R/S affected and was affected by coping with sport injuries: positive, negative, and no R/S coping strategies and effects. Findings support the predictions of the integrated model of psychological response to the sport injury and rehabilitation process and provide evidence-bases for clinical and counseling interventions that reflect cultural competence in accommodating patient or client R/S during recovery from sport injury.

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Shelby J. Martin and Timothy Anderson

Despite elevated risk of eating pathology (EP) among athletes, utilization of EP-treatment among athletes is low. Factors that may inhibit EP-help-seeking among athletes include perceived social stigma, self-stigma, and perfectionism. Heightened stigma associated with EP and sport climates may be exacerbated by negative perfectionism characteristic of athletes and decrease intentions to seek help for EP. We tested the following moderated-mediation model among a sample of collegiate athletes (N = 201) via online questionnaires: EP indirectly relates to EP help-seeking intentions through perceived and self-stigma and these relations are conditional on negative perfectionism. EP help-seeking intentions were negatively associated with EP severity, stigma, and negative perfectionism. EP was related to eating-specific help-seeking intentions through perceived social stigma, influencing self-stigma, but this was not moderated by negative perfectionism. Targeting mental-health treatment stigma among athletes may reduce risk of untreated EP among collegiate athletes.

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Emily Kroshus, Sara P.D. Chrisman, Jeffrey J. Milroy and Christine M. Baugh

Purpose: Assess whether athletes with a prior concussion diagnosis are more likely to continue play with a possible concussion. Additionally, explore whether reasons for concussion under-reporting are different among athletes with a prior concussion when compared to other athletes. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 328 collegiate athletes. Results: Athletes with a prior concussion diagnosis had significantly greater relative risk of continuing play while symptomatic of a possible concussion during their most recent season compared to athletes without prior concussion diagnosis. Significant differences exist in the reasons that athletes provided for not reporting by history of concussion. Conclusions: Findings suggest that learning may have occurred as a result of the prior diagnosis; however, this learning did not appear to result in safer reporting behavior. Additional research is necessary to clarify why athletes who have been previously diagnosed with a concussion are more likely to continue playing while experiencing concussion symptoms.

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Anne Holding, Jo-Annie Fortin, Joëlle Carpentier, Nora Hope and Richard Koestner

Retirement from competitive sports significantly influences former athletes’ well-being. We propose that disengaging from the former athletic career is a crucial factor in retired athletes’ adaptation. Using the theoretical framework of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) we propose that sport motivation at the career peak and motivation for retirement are important determinants of athletes’ disengagement progress from a terminated athletic career. We also seek to examine how motivation for retirement and disengagement progress predict retired athletes’ well-being. Using a mixed-retrospective/prospective longitudinal design we followed 158 government-supported elite athletes who had recently retired from an athletic career. In two online surveys administered 1.5 years apart, retired athletes reported on motivation, disengagement, and well-being. Results suggested that SDT motivation factors are important predictors for elite athletes career disengagement and well-being in retirement. The clinical implications of these findings for athletic career transition and support programs are discussed.

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Fleur E.C.A. van Rens and Edson Filho

The purpose of this study was to explore the career transition experiences of elite gymnasts who became professional circus artists. Eight (inter)national level gymnasts who worked as circus artists were interviewed. Using a constructionist approach to thematic data analysis, we identified a three-phase career transition process. High levels of psychological resilience characteristics were required in the first, “realizing” phase (i.e., motivation, hard work, social support, and optimism). The second, “adapting” phase involved balancing context-specific demands which included general stress, a loss of competence, social adjustment, taking calculated risks, and physical recovery. The third, “thriving” phase involved experiences of freedom, personal development, and social connectedness. During the career transition, changes from an athletic to circus artist identity were experienced. Practitioners are encouraged to support the psychological resilience and experiences of autonomy among circus artists during their career transitions. This is expected to facilitate circus artists’ wellbeing, safety, and career longevity.

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Leonardo Ruiz, Judy L. Van Raalte, Thaddeus France and Al Petitpas

More than 1,400 Latin American professional baseball players, age 16-21, are employed by 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) academies in the Dominican Republic. The popular press has highlighted scandals related to professional youth baseball player recruitment, selection, and exploitation in the academies, but little attention has been given to the academy experiences of youth baseball players from the perspective of the players themselves. For this research, 11 professional baseball players residing at an MLB Academy in the Dominican Republic participated in semi-structured interviews. Players described their transitions into the baseball academy system, their experiences in the academy, and their perceptions and expectations upon leaving or being released from the academy. Themes that emerged from the data included athletes’ hopes and dreams, stress, faith, and career transitions. Clinical implications of these findings for sport psychology practitioners are discussed.

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Robin S. Vealey, Nick Galli and Robert J. Harmison

In this commentary, we respond to Scherzer and Reel’s concerns over the Certified Mental Performance Consultant® (CMPC®) certification program requirements, particularly the certification exam. A reframing is suggested, in which the exam and recertification requirements are viewed as exciting historical milestones and an opportunity for individual professional growth as opposed to a personal inconvenience. In addition, some historical context and rationale for specific aspects of the CMPC certification program are provided, including the rationale for the CMPC credential.

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Emily Kroshus, Sara P.D. Chrisman, David Coppel and Stanley Herring

This study sought to identify factors that influence whether coaches support athletes struggling with depression and anxiety. Participants were U.S. public high school coaches who completed a written survey assessing their experiences, attitudes, and behaviors related to student-athlete mental health (n = 190 coaches, 92% response rate). Around two-thirds of coaches were concerned about mental health issues among the students they coached. They were more likely to extend help to a struggling athlete if they were aware of their school’s mental health plan and had greater confidence related to helping, including feeling confident in their ability to identify symptoms of mental health disorders. Mental health professionals, including sport psychologists who work with or consult with coaches, are well positioned to help provide coaches with the education necessary to be able to support and encourage care seeking by athletes who are struggling with anxiety or depression.