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Lee-Ann Sharp, Charlotte Woodcock, Mark J.G. Holland, Jennifer Cumming and Joan L. Duda

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of a mental skills training (MST) program for male youth elite rugby athletes. Three focus groups were held with 21 under-16 male rugby athletes and four male coaches involved in the MST program to examine the quality of service delivery, athlete responses to the MST program, the mental qualities used by athletes, and its perceived influence on athlete performance. Following inductive-deductive content analysis, 40 subcategories and 16 categories emerged. Participants believed the MST program to be an interactive, well-planned program that increased athlete understanding of MST methods and awareness of MST strategies to manage rugby performance. Athletes thought it important that their coaches develop a greater knowledge and understanding of MST methods. Finally, athletes perceived the MST skills and methods they learnt through the MST program were transferable to other sports and areas of their life outside of rugby (e.g., school).

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Charlotte Woodcock, Joan L. Duda, Jennifer Cumming, Lee-Ann Sharp and Mark J.G. Holland

Drawing from the experiences of the authors in developing, conducting, and evaluating sport psychology interventions, several considerations are highlighted and recommendations offered for effective psychometric assessment. Using the Test of Performance Strategies (TOPS; Thomas, Murphy, & Hardy, 1999) as a working example, opportunities for bias to undermine a measure’s validity and reliability are discussed with reference to a respondent’s four cognitive processes: (a) comprehension, (b) retrieval, (c) decision-making, and (d) response generation. Further threats to an instrument’s psychometric properties are highlighted in the form of demand characteristics athletes perceive in the environment. With these concerns in mind, several recommendations are made relating to the process of questionnaire administration and how possible compromises to the psychometric soundness of measures used in applied interventions can be minimized.