By bridging the literature on shared mental models and the individual zones of optimal functioning, the author advances a new framework called the shared zones of optimal functioning. The shared zones of optimal functioning is a probabilistic methodology designed to (a) capture optimal and suboptimal performance experiences in teams, (b) track team momentum through the analysis of within-team performance fluctuations, and (c) estimate within-team psycho–bio–social synchrony and leader–follower dynamics (i.e., leader–follower dichotomy, shared leadership). To test the shared zones of optimal functioning framework, three dyadic juggling teams were asked to juggle for 60 trials, while having their performance, arousal, pleasantness, and attentional levels recorded. Ordinal logistic regression, frequency counts, and cross-correlation analyses revealed that each team showed idiosyncratic affective and attentional levels linked to optimal performance, team momentum patterns, and leader–follower dynamics. The implications of these findings for the development of high-performing teams and specific avenues of future research are discussed throughout.
Lael Gershgoren, Edson Medeiros Filho, Gershon Tenenbaum, and Robert J. Schinke
This study was aimed at capturing the components comprising shared mental models (SMM) and the training methods used to address SMM in one athletic program context. To meet this aim, two soccer coaches from the same collegiate program were interviewed and observed extensively during practices and games throughout the 2009–2010 season. In addition, documents (e.g., players’ positioning on free kicks sheet) from the soccer program were reviewed. The data were analyzed inductively through a thematic analysis to develop models that operationalize SMM through its components, and training. Game intelligence and game philosophy were the two main operational themes defining SMM. Moreover, four themes emerged for SMM training: (a) the setting, (b) compensatory communication, (c) reinforcement, and (d) instruction. SMM was embedded within a more comprehensive conceptual framework of team chemistry, including emotional, social, and cognitive dimensions. Implications of these conceptual frameworks are considered for sport psychologists and coaches.
Edson Filho, Lael Gershgoren, Itay Basevitch, Robert Schinke, and Gershon Tenenbaum
The present study was an initial attempt to capture and describe instances of shared mental models within a team from the point of view of the team captain. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to describe a range of perceived and shared behaviors aimed at facilitating the overall performance of a college volleyball team from the perspective of the team captain. This behavioral focus is congruent with the need for documenting observable task and team-related coordination mechanisms. Symbolic interactionism, via the use of systematic observations, documental analysis, and semistructured open-ended interviews, was used to gather data from the participant in the form of a case study. Data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) theoretical thematic analysis based on categories derived from Eccles and Tenenbaum’s (2004) Conceptual Framework of Coordination in Sport Teams. Results indicated that the player’s actions were perceived as enhancing proactive information sharing within her team. Therefore, it is suggested that team leaders possess important objective and symbolic roles in the promotion of shared mental models. These results are further discussed in relation to current knowledge of shared mental models in sports. Limitations and directions for future research are outlined.
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.
Itay Basevitch, Gershon Tenenbaum, Edson Filho, Selen Razon, Nataniel Boiangin, and Paul Ward
The authors tested the notion that expertise effects would be more noticeable when access to situational information was reduced by occluding (i.e., noncued) or freezing (i.e., cued) the environment under temporal constraints. Using an adaptation of tasks developed by Ward, Ericsson, and Williams, the participants viewed video clips of attacking soccer plays frozen or occluded at 3 temporal points and then generated and prioritized situational options and anticipated the outcome. The high-skill players anticipated the outcomes more accurately, generated fewer task-irrelevant options, and were better at prioritizing task-relevant options than their low-skill counterparts. The anticipation scores were significantly and positively correlated with the option prioritization and task-relevant options generated but not with the total options generated. Counter to the authors’ prediction, larger skill-based option-prioritization differences were observed when the play was frozen than when it was occluded. These results indicate that processing environmental information depends on temporal and contextual conditions.
Maurizio Bertollo, Selenia di Fronso, Edson Filho, Vito Lamberti, Patrizio Ripari, Victor Machado Reis, Silvia Comani, Laura Bortoli, and Claudio Robazza
We conducted a counterbalanced repeated measure trial to investigate the effect of different internal and external associative strategies on endurance performance. Seventeen college-aged students were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions to test the notion that different attention-performance types (optimal Type 1, functional Type 2, and dysfunctional Type 3) would influence endurance time on a cycling task. Specifically, Type 1 represented an effortless and automatic, “flow-feeling” attentional mode. Type 2 referred to an associative focus directed at core components of the task. Type 3 represented an attentional focus directed at irrelevant components of the task. Participants completed three time-to-exhaustion-tests while reporting their perceived exertion and affective states (arousal and hedonic tone). Results revealed that Type 1 and Type 2 attentional strategies, compared with Type 3 strategy, exerted functional effects on performance, whereas a Type 3 strategy was linked to lower performance, and lower levels of arousal and pleasantness. Applied implications are discussed.
Itay Basevitch, Brooke Thompson, Robyn Braun, Selen Razon, Guler Arsal, Umit Tokac, Edson Medeiros Filho, Tonya Nascimento, and Gershon Tenenbaum
The aim of the current study was to test the effectiveness of pleasant odors on perception of exertion and attention allocation. A secondary purpose was to employ a placebo-control design and measure perceived smell intensity during task performance; methods that have been overlooked in previous olfaction studies in the sport and exercise domain. Seventy-six college students (35 females, 41 males) were recruited to perform a handgrip task. They were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups: control, placebo, lavender odor, and peppermint odor. Adhesive strips were placed under the noses of those in the latter three groups. The placebo group had a strip with no odor. The lavender and peppermint odor groups had a drop of concentration on the strip. After establishing a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) level, participants performed at 30% of their MVC level for as long as they could tolerate, during which they provided ratings of perceived exertion (or effort; RPE), attention, and smell intensity at 30s intervals, and affect every 60s. MANOVA procedures failed to reveal significant differences among the treatment and nontreatment groups on rate of perceived exertion, attention allocation, and total time duration on the task. However, statistical differences were found between both odor groups and the placebo group on perceived attention diversion. The lavender group reported that the odor diverted attention to a higher degree than both the peppermint and placebo groups. Although nonsignificant, findings revealed a trend suggesting that odors may have an effect on cognitive processes, and on performance. There is a need for additional research to better capture these effects. Directions for further research, with an emphasis on methodological issues are outlined.