The psychological factors that influence performance in the practice environment, where competitive athletes engage in deliberate practice, have recently been given specific research attention. The current study employed an action research approach to implement the practice environment model as an education strategy to increase the practice performance of players in a U.K. basketball academy team over a 20-week period. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the education strategy on practice performance. The team competed nationally and consisted of the head coach, the assistant coach, and 18 male players aged 16–19 years. Data were collected through focus groups, joint semistructured interviews, field observations, and a practice environment model web-based questionnaire. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic narrative analysis and the Friedman test analysed quantitative data. Quantitative results suggested that the education strategy decreased perceptions of stress and increased effort, preparation activities, and teammate support. Qualitative results provided an in-depth narrative of the environmental changes undertaken to improve practice performance. Discussion focuses on the key strategies of effort and control, performance expectations, team drive, positive communication, and preparation. This study is the first to apply the practice environment model to a real-world sporting domain.
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- Author: Stewart T. Cotterill x
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Steve M. Smith, Hazel Brown, and Stewart T. Cotterill
Emma C. Neupert, Stewart T. Cotterill, and Simon A. Jobson
Purpose: Poor athlete buy-in and adherence to training-monitoring systems (TMS) can be problematic in elite sport. This is a significant issue, as failure to record, interpret, and respond appropriately to negative changes in athlete well-being and training status may result in undesirable consequences such as maladaptation and/or underperformance. This study examined the perceptions of elite athletes to their TMS and their primary reasons for noncompletion. Methods: Nine national-team sprint athletes participated in semistructured interviews on their perceptions of their TMS. Interview data were analyzed qualitatively, based on grounded theory, and TMS adherence information was collected. Results: Thematic analysis showed that athletes reported their main reason for poor buy-in to TMS was a lack of feedback on their monitoring data from key staff. Furthermore, training modifications made in response to meaningful changes in monitoring data were sometimes perceived to be disproportionate, resulting in dishonest reporting practices. Conclusions: Perceptions of opaque or unfair decision making on training-program modifications and insufficient feedback were the primary causes for poor athlete TMS adherence. Supporting TMS implementation with a behavioral-change model that targets problem areas could improve buy-in and enable limited resources to be appropriately directed.
Steve M. Smith, Stewart T. Cotterill, and Hazel Brown
The psychological environment where sporting activity is undertaken has been suggested to influence performance. The coach orchestrates practice activities and their perception of the psychological environment has been regularly evaluated in competition research but not in practice. The aim of this study was to explore coach perceptions of the psychological influencing factors present in the practice environment. Participants were six U.K. academy basketball coaches (mean age = 35 years). Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Five superordinate themes were constructed from data analysis, which were player characteristics, team-first orientation, current performance perceptions, coach characteristics, and coaching structure. Results suggest that the coach has a unique insight into the psychological influencing factors of the practice environment. Combined with the practice environment framework offered by Smith, Cotterill, and Brown, a model is offered to aid practitioners in understanding the interrelatedness of psychological influencing factors in the practice environment.
Geoff P. Lovell, John K. Parker, Abbe Brady, Stewart T. Cotterill, and Glyn Howatson
Research has reported that initial evaluations of consultants’ competency are affected by dress and build. This investigation examined how athletes’ perceptions of sport psychology consultants (SPCs) are affected by SPCs’ physical characteristics of BMI and dress, and whether these perceptions are moderated by the athletes’ sex or standard of competition. Two hundred and thirty three competitive sports volunteers classified by sex and competitive standard viewed computer generated images of the same female SPC in sports and formal attire manipulated to represent a range of body mass indexes. Participants were asked to rank the SPCs in order of their preference to work with them, and to rate their perceived effectiveness of each of the SPCs. Results demonstrated that SPCs’ physical characteristics do influence athletes’ preference to work with them and perceptions of their effectiveness. Furthermore, athlete’s competitive standard does significantly moderate initial evaluation of SPCs based on physical characteristics.