The aim of this paper is to present a critical reflection on mental toughness using a creative analytic practice. In particular, we move from intrapersonal technical reflections to an altogether more interpersonal cultural analysis that (re)considers some of the assumptions that can underpin sport psychology practice. Specifically, in the ripples that extend from these initial technical reflections, we argue that it is important to understand vulnerability, and consider (a) wounded healers, (b) the ideology of individualism, and (c) the survivor bias to help make sense of current thinking and applied practice. Emerging from these ripples are a number of implications (naming elephants, tellability, neoliberalism) from which sport psychologists may reflect upon to enhance their own practice. In making visible the invisible, we conclude that vulnerability can no longer be ignored in sport psychology discourse, research, and practice. Should this story of vulnerability resonate, we encourage you, where appropriate to share this story.
Mark A. Uphill and Brian Hemmings
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Benjamin D. Jones, Tim Woodman, Matthew Barlow and Ross Roberts
Despite a plethora of research on moral disengagement and antisocial behavior, there is a dearth of literature that explores personality in the context of these undesirable attitudes and behaviors. We provide the first examination of personality, specifically narcissism, as a predictor of moral disengagement and antisocial behavior in sport. Given that narcissism is negatively related to empathy and positively related to feelings of entitlement, it is more likely for narcissists to disengage morally and to behave antisocially. We thus hypothesized that narcissism would predict antisocial behavior via moral disengagement. Across 12 team contact sports (n = 272), bootstrapped mediation analyses confirmed this indirect effect, which remained significant when controlling for motivational climate, social desirability, sex and sport type. Coaches and practitioners would do well to consider the darker side of personality in targeting moral disengagement and its behavioral consequences in team sports.
Matt D. Hoffmann, Todd M. Loughead and Gordon A. Bloom
The general objective of the current study was to explore the experiences of elite level athletes who reported being peer mentored by other athletes during their sporting careers. The primary purpose was to identify the mentoring functions provided by athlete mentors, while the secondary purpose was to examine the outcomes related to peer mentored athletes’ (i.e., protégés) mentoring experiences. Individual interviews were conducted with 14 elite peer mentored athletes, and the data were analyzed using a hierarchical content analysis. The results indicated that athlete mentors provided a variety of specific functions that facilitated protégés’ progression through sport and development from a personal standpoint. The findings also showed that protégés benefitted in terms of enhanced performance and confidence, and also demonstrated a willingness to provide mentorship to their peers. In sum, the results of the current study may be used to enhance the effectiveness of peer mentoring relationships between athletes.
Emily A. Martin, Stacy Winter and Tim Holder
Observation provides applied sport psychologists with a direct assessment of client behavior within the sporting environment. Despite the unique properties and the insightful information that observation allows, it has received limited literary attention within the applied sport psychology domain. The current study aimed to explore and further understand the observation practices of current trainee practitioners. All participants were enrolled on a training program toward becoming either a chartered psychologist (BPS) or an accredited sport and exercise scientist (BASES). In total, five focus groups were conducted and analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA; Smith, 1996). Four superordinate themes emerged: value of observation, type of observation, challenges of observation, and suggestions for observation training. Results demonstrate the increased value that observation brings to effective service delivery and intervention. Specifically, informal observation is commended for its propensity to build greater contextual intelligence and to develop stronger client relationships.
Zeljka Vidic, Mark St. Martin and Richard Oxhandler
This mixed methodology study investigated the effects of a ten session mindfulness-based intervention on a women’s collegiate basketball team’s (n = 13) perceived stress, athletic coping resources, and perceptions of the mindfulness intervention. Quantitative results showed a progressive decrease in stress and an increase in athletic coping skills over the course of the intervention. Qualitative results indicated the mindfulness intervention was beneficial in various aspects of the athletes’ lives in the form of improved awareness, control, focus, presence and relaxation. These results suggest that mindfulness training may be an effective approach in assisting college athletes attain benefits in both sport and life.
Matt Dicks, Chris Pocock, Richard Thelwell and John van der Kamp
Peter Gröpel and Jürgen Beckmann
Researchers suggests that a pre-performance routine (PPR) can improve performance in competitions. The effectiveness of left-hand contractions, a PPR to trigger facilitative cortical processes for skilled motor performance, was tested in two studies. In Study 1, gymnasts competing at the German university championships in artistic gymnastics performed their routines with or without the PPR. In Study 2, gymnasts performed the balance beam exercise either using the PPR or the control task (right-hand contractions) under simulated competition pressure. The qualification performance (Study 1) and the pressure-free performance (Study 2) were controlled. In both studies, participants in the PPR group performed better than control participants. The results indicate that left-hand contractions may be a useful PPR in the field.
John F. Mathers
Success on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour requires a specific blend of perceptuomotor abilities, technical proficiency, tactical awareness and mental skills. This case study describes the competitive structure of professional tennis and outlines the program of mental skills delivered to a professional tennis player over a 3-year period. The program embraced five stages: (1) education; (2) assessment/profiling; (3) mental skill learning; (4) application of mental skills in context and (5) evaluation, and was associated with some positive outcomes. This case study provides some possible guidelines for sport psychologists who may wish to provide consultancy services within professional tennis.
Thomas Davies, Dave Collins and Andrew Cruickshank
Despite substantial research in golf on preshot routines, our understanding of what elite golfers are or potentially should be focusing on beyond this phase of performance is limited. Accordingly, interviews were conducted with elite-level golfers and support practitioners to explore what golfers are and should be attending to before competition and between shots and holes. Results pointed to a number of important and novel processes for use at macro (i.e., precompetition) and meso (i.e., between shots and holes) levels, including the role of shared mental models across team members.