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On the Frontline of Athlete Mental Health: The Mental Health Literacy of NCAA Coaches

Kelzie E Beebe and Trent A. Petrie

Coaches’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about mental health—or mental health literacy (MHL)—affect teams’ mental health climates and the detection, referral, and treatment of athletes’ mental health concerns. Thus, assessing collegiate coaches’ MHL, and factors related to its presence, is critical. Using the Mental Health Literacy Scale, 1,571 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) coaches were surveyed regarding their MHL and demographic and mental health experience factors. Overall, 99.9% of the coaches surveyed believe that athletes’ mental health affected their sport performances. Through hierarchical regression analyses, coaches’ exposure to mental health treatment, perceived helpfulness of mental health treatment, gender (i.e., woman), years coaching (i.e., fewer years), and current NCAA division (i.e., Division III) were significantly related to their MHL, explaining 15.5% of variance. However, coaches’ race/ethnicity did not reach significance. Recommendations regarding increasing coaches’ MHL and hiring appropriately trained and licensed mental health and sport psychology professionals are offered.

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Kenshi’s Experiences of Sword Fighting in Kendo: The Way of Ippon With Soul, Sword, and Body

Takahiro Sato, Peter R. Jensen, and Craig A. Wrisberg

In response to recent calls for promoting the contextual intelligence of sport psychology practitioners, the aim of the current study was to obtain the first-person competitive experiences of kendo fighters (i.e., kenshi). Existential phenomenological interviews were conducted with eight competitive Japanese-American kenshi residing in the United States. The findings of thematic analysis indicated that the participants possessed a strong commitment to earning ippon (i.e., a valid point), which was achieved by a subjective synchronization of mind, sword, and body in the execution of a strike against an opponent. They considered this to be a transformative experience, which elevated them perceptually out of the sporting context to a momentary sense of “cutting” the opponent with a real sword. The current findings also offer sport psychology consultants possible context-specific insights (e.g., importance of seme) and strategies (e.g., management of attentional focus, self-regulation techniques) for assisting kenshi in preparing for competitive situations.

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Multicultural Training and Program Climate in Master’s Degree Sport Psychology Programs

Macey Arnold and Trent Petrie

Key governing bodies (e.g., Association for Applied Sport Psychology) recognize that graduate programs must prepare multiculturally competent practitioners. Students and recent graduates of sport psychology master’s degree programs (N = 107, M age = 26.32, SD = 5.19) reported moderate levels of feeling safe, valued, and comfortable within their program; low to moderate levels of multicultural training integration; and low to moderate satisfaction with their multicultural training. Students of Color (n = 42) compared to White students (n = 63) reported less satisfaction with their multicultural training; felt less safe, comfortable, and valued; and perceived less multicultural integration. Furthermore, perceptions of multicultural training integration and of feeling safe, comfortable, and valued were significantly related to satisfaction with their multicultural training. Training programs are advised to improve integration of multicultural training, invest in program climate to help students feel safe and valued, and ensure continuing education of faculty members.

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A Penny for Your Thoughts: Athletes’ and Trainee Sport Psychologists’ Internal Dialogue During Consultations

David Tod, Hayley E. McEwan, Amy E. Whitehead, and Daryl Marchant

The purpose of this study was to explore the internal dialogue of trainee sport psychologists (TSPs) and athletes immediately following athlete–practitioner consultations. TSPs (four male and three female, age 22–32 years) and athletes (four male, three female, age 19–29 years) completed a thought-listing procedure twice, while watching video recordings of their previous consultations. The thought-listing procedure involved participants’ pausing the video to record the in-session internal dialogue they had experienced during the consultation. Participants’ responses were categorized into six dimensions: time, place, focus, locus, orientation, and mode. TSPs’ and athletes’ retrospective accounts provided evidence that their in-session internal dialogue was (a) present focused, (b) about in-session material, (c) about the athletes or themselves, (d) about internal and external events, (e) professional (i.e., related to the session), and (f) neutral. Findings provide trainees and inexperienced practitioners with insights into the thought content of TSPs and athletes to guide their own athlete interactions.

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A Collective Case Study of Parent–Athlete–Coach Triads in British Youth Tennis

Ella F. Tagliavini, Chris G. Harwood, Sophia Jowett, and Sam N. Thrower

While important for athletic development and well-being in youth sport, knowledge remains limited around the processes underpinning triadic relationships between parents, athletes, and coaches. This study aimed to examine the relational processes that drive the functioning of parent–athlete–coach triads across three developmental stages of youth tennis. Using a collective-case-study design, 10 players, 10 coaches, and 9 mothers completed preinterview tasks and semistructured interviews and provided conversational history. Reflexive thematic analysis led to the generation of two higher order themes: foundations of relationship quality and factors enabling team effectiveness. Findings highlighted how specific relationship qualities (i.e., commitment, trust, respect, and parent–coach proximity) and team effectiveness constructs (i.e., shared goals, collaborative and adjusted roles, support, and role-specific communication) served to facilitate the tennis experience for triads. Scholars are encouraged to consider integrating small-group principles (e.g., team building) into tailored support programs that address the psychosocial needs of the triad.

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Volume 37 (2023): Issue 4 (Dec 2023)

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Having a Goal Up Your Sleeve: Promoting a Mastery Climate in a Youth Football Academy Team

Niels N. Rossing, Michael Lykkeskov, Luc J. Martin, and Ludvig Johan Torp Rasmussen

In sport, there is extensive evidence that supports the benefits associated with a mastery climate. However, limited studies have explored how physical tools could be used to promote mastery climates in youth sport contexts. Using an action research approach, we sought to understand the benefits and drawbacks of applying tools grounded in goal setting to promote a mastery environment: (a) an “arm sleeve” to be worn by athletes during training and matches and (b) a “reflection sheet” for use pre- and posttraining/-matches. These tools were implemented for a 3-week period with a U13 academy team (18 players and two coaches). Based on observation notes, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews, the analysis showed that the arm sleeves were helpful reminders for process goals, whereas the coaches had abandoned the use of reflection sheets due to lack of time. The benefits and drawbacks of the tools are discussed while pedagogical and practical implications are considered.

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Australian Football Coaches’ Tales of Mental Toughness: Exploring the Sociocultural Roots

Stephanie J. Tibbert, Mark B. Andersen, Tony Morris, and Christopher Mesagno

The present study explored how three professional Australian football coaches learned and understood mental toughness. Participants shared stories regarding mental toughness through semistructured interviews. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to interpret the data. Creative nonfiction was employed to develop a composite story. All participants’ voices contributed equally to the narrative, which follows Sam (our composite coach) through three periods in his career: as a junior player, an elite footballer, and, finally, a coach in the professional football environment. Mental toughness was fundamentally determined by the sociocultural environment in which one was immersed. Athletes and coaches were expected to internalize dominant understandings of mental toughness and reinforce ideals and were punished if they deviated from mentally tough standards set up in their clubs. Mental toughness was defined by various values, beliefs, and norms that originated from the sociocultural environment, indicating the importance of context in understanding the roots of being mentally tough.

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