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.
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.
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.
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.