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Stephen Pack, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Stacy Winter and Brian Hemmings

Previous research demonstrates that sport psychology consultants use humor to facilitate working alliances, reinforce client knowledge, and create healthy learning environments. The current study sought to gain further insights into consultants’ reflections on the role of humor, humor styles, purposes for humor, and experiences of humor use. Forty-eight sport psychology consultants completed an online survey comprising open-ended questions. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: “It’s the way I tell ’em,” “It’s the way I don’t tell ’em,” “This is why I tell ’em,” and learning to use humor in consultancy. Participants used 2 styles of humor (deadpan and self-deprecating), each with the goal of facilitating the working alliance. Although not all participants used humor during consultancy, its incorporation might render the working alliance and real relationship as resources in ways (e.g., a “barometer” that predicts consultancy outcomes) previously not considered in applied sport psychology.

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Jordan D. Herbison, Luc J. Martin and Mustafa Sarkar

Adversity is viewed as both an inevitable and an important experience for elite athletes. The purpose of this study was to explore elite athletes’ perceptions of the experiences and characteristics that helped them overcome a shared sport-specific adversity. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 professional athletes (M age = 27.25, SD = 3.28 yr) who had progressed to careers in the National Hockey League (NHL) despite not being selected in the annual amateur entry draft. Participants discussed their long-term objectives of playing in the NHL, previous experiences with adversity, certain psychological characteristics that facilitated their progression (e.g., competitiveness, passion, confidence), and the significance of social support as key factors that helped them overcome the initial and subsequent adversities associated with being unselected during the amateur entry draft. Practical implications and proposed avenues for future research are discussed in the context of the study’s limitations.

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Line D. Danielsen, Rune Giske, Derek M. Peters and Rune Høigaard

The main purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of highly influential players in elite soccer. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 elite coaches to determine their perceptions of the characteristics, emergence, and impact of highly influential players. The interview guide was anchored in coaching literature and leadership theory, and after the interview data in this frame were explored, these athletes were labeled cultural architects. The results of the analysis revealed 3 general dimensions of cultural architects in elite teams: (a) personal characteristics, which include elements related to their achievements on the soccer pitch, mind-set, and collective orientation; (b) relationship to the coach, which includes integrity and trust; and (c) intrateam facilitator, which includes their impact as a task-team and social-team influencer. The results represent original findings identifying the characteristics of cultural architects in soccer that are most likely transferable to many other team sports.

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Kurtis Pankow, Amber D. Mosewich and Nicholas L. Holt

The overall purpose of this study was to explore athletes’ perceptions of pragmatic leadership in award-winning Canadian youth football coaches. Using a qualitative description methodology, semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 men who had been coached by 5 award-winning youth football coaches. The coaches were classified as pragmatic leaders. Participants’ perceptions of the coaches’ leadership were grouped into 3 main themes: individualized consideration, accountability/responsibility, and solving problems by valuing unique contributions. Because leadership is a process of interpersonal influence, on a practical level these themes may account for key features of the coach–athlete relationship that arise from pragmatic leadership.

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Stewart Cotterill, Richard Cheetham and Katrien Fransen

The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of the coach in relation to the perceived function of captains in professional rugby union. Participants were 8 elite male rugby coaches purposely sampled for this study. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions of the role of the captain. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Ten superordinate themes emerged in the study: types of captain, captain development, challenges, captains role, off-field responsibilities, nature of the job, selection, cultural architects, coach–captain relationship, and key attributes. Results suggest that coaches view the captain as an extension of their authority in the team, leadership groups are increasingly important to support captains, and the criteria for the selection of captains are still vague. As a result, future research should explore the development of specific evidence-based approaches to captain selection and development.

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Lea-Cathrin Dohme, David Piggott, Susan Backhouse and Gareth Morgan

Research has identified psychological skills and characteristics (PSCs) perceived to facilitate talented youth athletes’ development. However, no systematic categorization or synthesis of these PSCs exists to date. To provide such synthesis, this systematic review aimed to identify PSCs perceived as facilitative of talented youth athletes’ development, group and label synonymous PSCs, and categorize PSCs based on definitions established by Dohme, Backhouse, Piggott, and Morgan (2017). PRISMA systematic-review guidelines were employed and a comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and ERIC completed in November 2017. Twenty-five empirical studies published between 2002 and 2017 met the inclusion criteria. Through thematic analysis, 19 PSCs were identified as facilitative of youth athletes’ development—8 were categorized as psychological skills (e.g., goal setting, social-support seeking, and self-talk) and 11 as psychological characteristics (e.g., self-confidence, focus, and motivation). The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Ryan W. Guenter, John G.H. Dunn and Nicholas L. Holt

The purpose of this study was to examine “intangible” characteristics that scouts consider when evaluating draft-eligible prospects for the Western Hockey League. Sixteen scouts participated in semistructured interviews that were subjected to an inductive thematic analysis and then organized around predetermined categories of why intangibles were important, what intangibles were valued, and how scouts evaluated these intangibles. Intangibles helped scouts establish players’ fit with the organizational culture of teams and influenced scouts’ draft-list ranking of players. The key intangibles scouts sought were labeled compete, passion, character, and leadership/team player. Scouts noted red flags (i.e., selfish on-ice behaviors, bad body language, and poor parental behavior) that led them to question players’ suitability for their respective organizations. Finally, scouts used an investigative process to identify and evaluate these intangibles through direct observation; interviews with players, coaches, and trainers; and assessments of players’ social media activities. Implications for sport psychology consultants are discussed.

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Sarah Lawrason, Jennifer Turnnidge, Luc J. Martin and Jean Côté

To maximize the effectiveness of coach development, educational programs should target coaches’ interpersonal behaviors, be informed by behavior-change techniques, and incorporate comprehensive evaluation procedures. Thus, informed by the full-range leadership model (see Bass and Riggio in 2006) and the Behaviour Change Wheel (see Michie et al. in 2011), Turnnidge and Côté in 2017 developed the Transformational Coaching Workshop (TCW). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the TCW’s effectiveness through observation before and after coaches’ workshop participation. Participants included 8 male head coaches of youth soccer teams. Systematic observation and coding using the Coach Leadership Assessment System were employed pre- and postworkshop to examine coaches’ leadership behaviors. Coaches made improvements in the types of leadership behaviors used and how they were conveyed. This study demonstrates that systematic observation can be implemented to explore real-world changes in behaviors. Future research should examine the impact of the TCW on athlete outcomes.