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Mindful Recovery: A Case Study of a Burned-Out Elite Shooter

John Jouper and Henrik Gustafsson

Research on how to recover from athlete burnout is scarce. The current aim is therefore to describe an intervention with an elite shooter suffering from burnout, and the use of mindfulness and Qigong to reestablish sport functioning as well as general well-being. The participant used mindfulness and Qigong exercise on a daily basis. Exercise frequency, exercise time, concentration level and Qigong state were noted daily, and levels of stress, energy and primordial force were self-rated weekly for 20 weeks, and followed up after 30, 40 and 50 weeks. The participant recovered from burnout to a state of general well-being (energy and primordial force changed from weak to strong), and her ability to stay concentrated in a Qigong state changed from weak to strong. Her capacity to shoot high scores was reestablished, even if her shooting endurance was not fully recovered. Mindfulness and Qigong techniques may be useful in the prevention of and recovery from athlete burnout.

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Athlete Burnout and the Risk of Dropout Among Young Elite Handball Players

Sandrine Isoard-Gautheur, Emma Guillet-Descas, and Henrik Gustafsson

The negative feelings that are part of burnout syndrome may prompt athletes to drop out of their sport. The objective of the current study was therefore to examine the influence of athlete burnout profiles on playing status 6 years later. The participants of this study were 458 boys and girls between 14 and 18 years old (M = 15.44; SD = .95) enrolled in elite handball training centers. Cluster analysis on athlete burnout and multinomial logistic regressions on the playing status were conducted. The results suggest that those individuals with a “higher burnout” profile at Time 1 were more likely to have stopped playing handball 6 years later. It therefore seems important to develop strategies to prevent burnout in young athletes enrolled in elite training structures and to promote long-term engagement and well-being in elite sporting activity.

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Prevalence of Burnout in Competitive Adolescent Athletes

Henrik Gustafsson, Göran Kenttä, Peter Hassmén, and Carolina Lundqvist

This study examined the factorial validity of the Eades Burnout Inventory (EABI) and the prevalence of burnout in adolescent elite athletes and whether burnout is more common in individual sports than in team sports. The EABI was distributed to 980 athletes (402 females and 578 males) in 29 different sports. Confirmatory-factor analyses revealed an acceptable factorial validity for a theoretically supported four-factor model of the EABI. Between 1% and 9% of the athletes displayed elevated burnout scores on these four subscales. The hypothesis of higher prevalence of burnout in individual sports was, however, not supported. Furthermore, no correlation between training load and burnout scores was found. These findings suggest that factors other than training load must be considered when athletes at risk for burnout are investigated.

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Sport Psychology Consultants’ Views on Working With Perfectionistic Elite Athletes

Ellinor Klockare, Luke F. Olsson, Henrik Gustafsson, Carolina Lundqvist, and Andrew P. Hill

The purpose of this study was to explore the views and experiences of sport psychology consultants who have worked with perfectionistic elite athletes and, particularly, their views on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. Semistructured interviews were conducted with four professional sport psychology consultants who identified themselves as having experience of working with athletes they consider to be perfectionistic. Two themes were generated: manifestations of perfectionism and management of perfectionism. The consultants found perfectionistic athletes to have rigid attitudes and strong negative emotional experiences, to use safety behaviors, and to regularly underperform. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as mindfulness, cognitive restructuring, and psychological skills training were most commonly used and were largely viewed as effective against a backdrop of sporting environment that could often encourage athletes to be perfectionistic. The findings highlight the complexity of perfectionism from a consultancy perspective and the potential challenges associated with working with perfectionistic athletes.