Cheryl A. Travis and Michael L. Sachs
One of the largest groups of persons with disabilities is that of persons with mental retardation. More than 1,000,000 athletes with mental retardation, for example, participate in Special Olympics each year. Sport psychology can help with performance enhancement as well as enhancing the quality of the sport experience for persons with mental retardation. Additionally, participation in exercise and sport can result in increased benefits such as enhanced self-esteem, self-reliance, and willingness to take risks. The literature in this area is reviewed, and extensive suggestions on working with athletes with mental retardation are offered. Due to the cognitive limitations that are one characteristic of persons with mental retardation, the sport psychologist faces particular challenges in providing sport psychology services for this population. A case study is provided to illustrate some of the challenges and rewards in working with athletes with mental retardation.
Rebecca A. Clark and Michael L. Sachs
One group of athletes only recently receiving attention from sport psychologists is those who are deaf. Although these athletes have a communication disability, they participate in sport at all levels, from recreational sport participant to Olympic competitor. This paper reviews the literature on sport psychology and athletes who are deaf. Issues related to assessment of psychological skills with athletes who are deaf are explored through a study with 26 National Deaf Volleyball Tournament players, using the Psychological Skills Inventory for Sport. Finally, suggestions are offered for sport psychologists considering working with athletes who are deaf.
Anna-Marie C. Jaeschke, Michael L. Sachs, and Kristen D. Dieffenbach
Ultramarathon running entails coping with unanticipated environmental circumstances and intense physical and psychological fatigue; a sport in which the role of mental toughness can be crucial. This research focused on semistructured interviews with 12 ultramarathon runners who volunteered to discuss their perceptions of mental toughness. The data allowed researchers to gather a multidimensional view of mental toughness from ultramarathon runners’ experiences and perspective in addition to providing a snapshot of the challenges and demands ultrarunners face, as well as ethical concerns associated with athletes pushing themselves beyond their limits. Central themes included: perseverance/persistence, overcoming adversity, perspective, life experience, psychological skills use, and camaraderie in the ultra community. A deeper understanding of mental toughness obtained from a sample of ultramarathon runners can inform consultants working to improve quality or consistency of performance, and become aware of ethical concerns of encouraging athletes to exceed perceptual or actual limitations.