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Annamari Maaranen, Judy L. Van Raalte and Britton W. Brewer

Flikikammo is a troubling phenomenon in which athletes lose the ability to perform previously automatic backward moving gymnastics skills as a normal part of a routine. To better understand the effects of flikikammo over time, the confidence, perceived pressure, physical well-being, energy, and stress levels of gymnasts (n = 6) and cheerleaders (n = 4) were assessed weekly over 10 weeks. Half of the participants reported experiencing flikikammo at the start of the study, and half served as age, skill level, and sport-matched controls. Athletes with flikikammo indicated that pressure from coaches and higher energy levels were related to more severe flikikammo. For participants under the age of 18, higher levels of life stress positively correlated with flikikammo, but for those over 18, higher life stress was negatively correlated with flikikammo. These findings highlight the complexity of flikikammo and suggest that complex solutions may be needed to address flikikammo issues.

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Laurel W. Sheffield and Lauren A. Stutts

Collegiate athletes are frequently exposed to pain/injury, which has the potential to negatively impact their physical and psychological health. This quasi-experimental study investigated the influence of gender and athletic status on deciding whether pain should be reported to the head coach in a vignette. Participants included 236 undergraduates who read four vignettes describing athletes (two men, two women) who were experiencing pain while playing a sport and made recommendations about whether the athlete should report the pain. Regardless of the gender of the athlete in the vignette, women and non-Division I athletes were more confident that the pain should be reported to the coach than men and athletes. Division I athletes’ recommendations for others to report pain did not align with what they reported practicing themselves. These results suggest that athletes and coaches should receive education about the factors that may lead an athlete to choose not to report pain.

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Kylie McNeill, Natalie Durand-Bush and Pierre-Nicolas Lemyre

While coaches are considered at risk of experiencing burnout, there is an absence of intervention studies addressing this syndrome. The purpose of this qualitative study was to conduct a self-regulation intervention with five Canadian developmental (n = 2) and elite (n = 3) sport coaches (three men, two women) experiencing moderate to high levels of burnout and examine the perceived impact of this intervention on their self-regulation capacity and experiences of burnout and well-being. The content analysis of the coaches’ outtake interviews and five bi-weekly journals revealed that all five of them learned to self-regulate more effectively by developing various competencies (e.g., strategic planning for their well-being, self-monitoring) and strategies (e.g., task delegation, facilitative self-talk). Four of the coaches also perceived improvements in their symptoms of burnout and well-being. Sport psychology interventions individualized for coaches are a promising means for helping them manage burnout and enhance their overall functioning.

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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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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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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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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.

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Florence Lebrun, Áine MacNamara, Dave Collins and Sheelagh Rodgers

Little is known about the coping strategies used by elite athletes suffering from mental health issues. Therefore, this study examined coping strategies implemented by elite athletes facing clinical depression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four elite athletes and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results present a broad picture of how elite athletes tried to cope with depression using a range of coping strategies. Among the different strategies highlighted, talking, seeking professional help and social support were particularly emphasized by the participants. Surprisingly, however, only one participant reported transferring the skills and strategies learned on her way to the top to many other aspects of her everyday life such as coping with her depression. Findings, therefore, suggest that athletes should be encouraged to transfer and make the most of the skills learned throughout their sport career to deal with their daily life. Future research perspectives and implications are discussed.