The purpose of this study was to explore how sport and exercise psychologists working in sport understand and use motivational interviewing (MI). Eleven practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and inductive thematic analysis identified themes linked to explicit use of MI, such as building engagement and exploring ambivalence to change; the value of MI, such as enhancing the relationship, rolling with resistance and integrating with other approaches; and barriers to the implementation of MI in sport psychology, such as a limited evidence-base in sport. Findings also indicated considerable implicit use of MI by participants, including taking an athlete-centered approach, supporting athlete autonomy, reflective listening, demonstrating accurate empathy, and taking a nonprescriptive, guiding role. This counseling style appears to have several tenets to enhance current practice in sport psychology, not least the enhancement of therapeutic alliance.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
Pete Lindsay, Jeff D. Breckon, Owen Thomas, and Ian W. Maynard
The chosen methods of applied sport psychology practitioners should be underpinned by their personal core beliefs and values (Poczwardowski, Sherman, & Ravizza, 2004). However, many novice practitioners unquestioningly adopt the dominant method of the field (Fishman, 1999), and thus might find themselves incongruent in terms of their professional philosophy (Tudor & Worrall, 2004). This article aims to highlight questions that practitioners might reflect on to achieve greater congruence in terms of their philosophy of practice. Autoethnographic accounts of consultancies by a recently qualified practitioner are used to explore one practitioner’s journey toward congruence in professional philosophy. Insights arising from these consultancies for the practitioner are provided, and the wider implications for the training and certification and accreditation of practitioners are considered.
Jeff David Breckon, Lynne Halley Johnston, and Andrew Hutchison
Physical activity (PA) counseling is becoming commonplace in primary care settings, although there is a high degree of variation in the quality and quantity of this intervention. The purpose of this review was to examine the theory on which the intervention is based and the level of treatment fidelity applied at all stages of the intervention.
A systematic review was carried out for interventions that reported an element of PA counseling. Results were mapped according to a treatment fidelity framework of intervention design, training, delivery, receipt, and enactment.
Most studies were underpinned by the transtheoretical model. Few studies described the frequency or duration of PA counseling training or competence level of the interventionist. The most common outcome measures were behavioral and physiological, with few studies including a cognitive outcome measure.
Most research focuses on outcome and significance rather than intervention processes, with limited consideration of treatment fidelity. The design, training, delivery, and receipt of PA counseling should be reported more thoroughly.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
This study explored the use of motivational interviewing (MI) in sport contexts by experts in that approach. Specifically, the purpose was to understand which aspects of the MI approach are deemed valuable for working in sport and to begin to understand how these aspects are best applied. Nine practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and thematic analysis identified themes related to core and subcomponents of MI (e.g., relational spirit, technical microskills, applied tools, and the MI communication styles continuum). Additional themes relate to integrating MI with other interventions, the challenges of working with athletes (e.g., mandated attendance, ambivalence about change), and unique aspects of working in sport contexts (e.g., frequency, duration, and location of contact points). The participants also outlined essential ingredients for an MI training curriculum for practitioners in sport. This counseling approach appears to have valuable relational and technical components to facilitate the building of the therapeutic alliance, enhance athlete readiness for change, and support delivery of action-oriented interventions in applied sport psychology.
Rachel Cholerton, Helen Quirk, Jeff Breckon, and Joanne Butt
Adults aged 55+ years are most likely to be inactive, despite research suggesting that older adults experience multiple benefits when participating in physical activity and sport. Limited research focuses on long-term continuation of sport participation in this population, especially in “adapted sports” like walking football. This study explored the experiences of walking football maintenance in 55- to 75-year-old players. Semistructured interviews were conducted, with 17 older adults maintaining walking football play over 6 months. The inductive analysis revealed five higher-order themes representing maintenance influences and two higher-order themes relating to maintenance mechanisms (i.e., the conscious process by which players maintain). Influences when maintaining walking football included individual- and culture-level influences (e.g., perceived benefits of maintenance and ability acceptance). Maintenance mechanisms included cognitions and behaviors (e.g., scheduling sessions and redefining physical activity expectations). Findings highlight novel implications for policy and practice, which are important to consider when delivering walking football to older adults.
Rachel Cholerton, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Helen Quirk
Adults aged 55 and older are least likely to play sport. Despite research suggesting this population experiences physical and psychological benefits when doing so, limited research focuses on older adult sport initiation, especially in “adapted sports” such as walking football. The aim of this study was to explore initiation experiences of walking football players between 55 and 75 years old. Semistructured interviews took place with 17 older adults playing walking football for 6 months minimum (M age = 64). Inductive analysis revealed six higher order themes representing preinitiation influences. Eight further higher order themes were found, relating to positive and negative experiences during initiation. Fundamental influences preinitiation included previous sporting experiences and values and perceptions. Emergent positive experiences during initiation included mental development and social connections. Findings highlight important individual and social influences when initiating walking football, which should be considered when encouraging 55- to 75-year-old adults to play adapted sport. Policy and practice recommendations are discussed.
Rachel Cholerton, Joanne Butt, Helen Quirk, and Jeff Breckon
Despite health benefits gained from physical activity and sport participation, older adults are less likely to be active. This study investigates what influences 50- to 75-year-olds (N = 439) to initiate and maintain walking football, across gender, socioeconomic status, number of health conditions, and physical activity level. It also considers relationships between participant characteristics and influences, and intentions to play after a forced break (COVID-19). Results of a U.K. online cross-sectional survey found those with two or more health conditions rated social influences significantly higher in initiation and maintenance than participants with no health conditions. Multiple regression analysis found a positive walking football culture, and perceived use of maintenance resources contributed significantly to intentions to return to play after COVID-19 restrictions eased. Practitioners should consider providing opportunities for social connection, foster a positive walking football culture, and encourage players to utilize maintenance resources (e.g., scheduling sessions) in older adult walking football sessions.
Joanne Butt, Robert S. Weinberg, Jeff D. Breckon, and Randal P. Claytor
Physical activity (PA) declines as adolescents get older, and the motivational determinants of PA warrant further investigation. The purposes of this study were to investigate the amount of physical and sedentary activity that adolescents participated in across age, gender, and race, and to investigate adolescents’ attraction to PA and their perceived barriers and benefits across age, gender, and race.
High school students (N = 1163) aged between 13 and 16 years completed questionnaires on minutes and intensity of physical and sedentary activity, interests in physical activity, and perceived benefits and barriers to participating in PA.
A series of multivariate analyses of variance were conducted and followed up with discriminant function analysis. PA participation decreased in older females. In addition, fun of physical exertion was a primary attraction to PA for males more than females. Body image as an expected outcome of participating in PA contributed most to gender differences.
There is a need to determine why PA drops-off as females get older. Findings underscore the importance of structuring activities differently to sustain interest in male and female adolescents, and highlights motives of having a healthy body image, and making PA fun to enhance participation.
Sarah E. Scott, Jeff D. Breckon, Robert J. Copeland, and Andrew Hutchison
Physical activity is promoted to help adults manage chronic health conditions, but evidence suggests that individuals relapse after intervention cessation. The objective of this study was to explore the determinants and strategies for successful and unsuccessful physical activity maintenance.
A qualitative study using semistructured interviews was conducted with 32 participants. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 20 successful and 12 unsuccessful maintainers. Adults with chronic health conditions were recruited having completed a physical activity referral scheme 6 months before study commencement. The IPAQ and SPAQ were used to categorize participants according to physical activity status. Data were analyzed using framework analysis.
Eleven main themes emerged: 1) outcome expectations, 2) experiences, 3) core values, 4) trial and error, 5) social and practical support, 6) attitudes toward physical activity, 7) environmental barriers, 8) psychological barriers, 9) physical barriers, 10) cognitive-behavioral strategies for physical activity self-management (eg, self-monitoring), and 11) condition management (eg, pacing).
The findings identified determinants and strategies for successful maintenance and highlighted the processes involved in physical activity disengagement. Such findings can guide the development of physical activity maintenance interventions and increase activity engagement over the long-term in adults with chronic health conditions.
Rory J. Mack, Jeff D. Breckon, Paul D. O’Halloran, and Joanne Butt
Clear reporting of the counseling approach (and theoretical underpinning) applied by sport psychologists is often missing, with a tendency to focus on intervention content rather than therapeutic processes and relationship building. Well-defined psychotherapies such as motivational interviewing (MI) can help fill this void and provide an underpinning counseling approach (in an athlete-centered manner) as a framework for delivering interventions such as psychological-skills training (PST). This article describes the role of MI as a framework on which PST sport psychology interventions can be mapped and delivered. The paper presents an athlete case study to explain the role of MI at each phase of the interaction. Robust, well-defined applications of MI in sport require further research, although evidence from other psychological domains suggests that it can be successfully blended into sporting contexts.