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Natalia B. Stambulova

This article deals with the psychological description of the sports career, including the history of the topic in Russian sport psychology before and during perestroika, two theoretical models of the sports career (synthetic and analytic), and conclusions drawn from the empirical research of sports careers of more than 200 Russian athletes representing different sports specializations and levels of achievement. Seven predictable crises of elite sports careers are considered from the perspective of typical problems and difficulties of athletes in each crisis, general symptoms and possible circumstances that reinforce crisis symptoms, ways to resolve a crisis, the influence of a crisis on sport performance, forms of “payment” for failure to resolve crises, and ways of providing psychological assistance to athletes in crisis periods of the sports career.

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Yuri L. Hanin and Natalia B. Stambulova

This study examined feeling states prior to, during, and after best ever and worst ever competition in 85 skilled Russian athletes using metaphor-generation method (Hanin, 2000). Six situations elicited 510 idiosyncratic and functionally meaningful metaphors (67% animate and 33% inanimate agents) and 922 interpretative descriptors. Metaphors and descriptors reflected high action readiness in best ever competition and low action readiness in worst ever competition. Athletes used different metaphors to describe their feelings prior to, during, and after performance. Accompanying idiosyncratic descriptors had multiple connotations with different components of psychobiosocial state. Aggregated content of descriptors had high scores on optimal and low scores on dysfunctional state characteristics in best ever competition but not in worst ever competition. Future research directions and practical implications are suggested.

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Kristoffer Henriksen, Natalia Stambulova, and Kirsten Kaya Roessler

The holistic ecological approach to talent development in sport highlights the central role of the overall environment as it affects a prospective elite athlete. This paper examines a flat-water kayak environment in Norway with a history of successfully producing top-level senior athletes from among its juniors. Principal methods of data collection include interviews, participant observations of daily life in the environment and analysis of documents. The environment was centered around the relationship between prospects and a community of elite athletes, officially organized as a school team but helping the athletes to focus on their sport goals, teaching the athletes to be autonomous and responsible for their own training, and perceived as very integrated due to a strong and cohesive organizational culture. We argue that the holistic ecological approach opens new venues in talent development research and holds the potential to change how sport psychology practitioners work with prospective elite athletes.