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Stress, Emotion, and Performance in Elite Slalom Canoeists

Jonathan R. Males and John H. Kerr

This paper examines the relationship between precompetitive affect and performance, using elements of reversal theory (Apter, 1982): a conceptual framework that incorporates a full range of pleasant and unpleasant moods. Nine elite male slalom canoeists completed questionnaires prior to each event of a season that included the world championships. Results were analyzed using a time-series model to make comparisons of each subject’s best and worst performance of the season. Predicted variations in precompetitive levels of pleasant and unpleasant mood did not occur, despite variations in subsequent performances. As predicted, good performances were preceded by low discrepancies between felt and preferred arousal levels, but there was no support for the hypothesis that a large discrepancy between perceived stress and coping efforts would precede a poor performance.

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Team Process and Players’ Psychological Responses to Failure in a National Volleyball Team

Jonathan R. Males, John H. Kerr, Joanne Thatcher, and Emma Bellew

The present study investigated the psychological experiences of elite athletes in a team that failed using qualitative methods informed by reversal theory. Five athletes, from a national men’s volleyball team, playing in a European tournament completed a post-game review after each of 6 games. After the tournament, each player took part in in-depth semi-structured interviews, prompted by their post-game reviews. The results indicated that unrealistic expectations, poor team motivation, a negative coaching style, and faulty team process around game performance played an important role in the failure of this team. Also, inappropriate metamotivational states and state reversals were found to have had a negative impact on team performance. Several consultant recommendations for enhancing team motivation and functioning are identified.

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Athlete–Coach Conflict and a Sport Psychologist Caught in the Middle: A Case Study of Consultancy During Athlete Preparation and Performance in Olympic Games Athletics

Jonathan R. Males, John H. Kerr, and Joanne Hudson

This case study examines the personal experiences of an elite athlete, coach, and sport psychology consultant (SPC) during the athlete’s preparation and performance in a recent Olympic Games. The qualitative research details how the consultancy process was affected by the athlete’s late admission of the deteriorating relationship with his coach. The concepts of closeness, commitment, complementarity, and co-orientation provided a theoretical perspective to the SPC’s interpretation of athlete performance and the interpersonal conflict that developed between athlete and coach. The basic performance demand model provided an applied perspective. The SPC’s commentary adopts a reflexive discursive style that also focuses on the SPC’s role in the consultancy process and the effectiveness of the performance demand model materials. Five important recommendations arise from the case study, and these might inform other SPCs’ future athlete–coach consultancies and interventions.