Mark A. Uphill and Brian Hemmings
The aim of this paper is to present a critical reflection on mental toughness using a creative analytic practice. In particular, we move from intrapersonal technical reflections to an altogether more interpersonal cultural analysis that (re)considers some of the assumptions that can underpin sport psychology practice. Specifically, in the ripples that extend from these initial technical reflections, we argue that it is important to understand vulnerability, and consider (a) wounded healers, (b) the ideology of individualism, and (c) the survivor bias to help make sense of current thinking and applied practice. Emerging from these ripples are a number of implications (naming elephants, tellability, neoliberalism) from which sport psychologists may reflect upon to enhance their own practice. In making visible the invisible, we conclude that vulnerability can no longer be ignored in sport psychology discourse, research, and practice. Should this story of vulnerability resonate, we encourage you, where appropriate to share this story.
Joachim Stoeber, Mark A. Uphill and Sarah Hotham
The question of how perfectionism affects performance is highly debated. Because empirical studies examining perfectionism and competitive sport performance are missing, the present research investigated how perfectionism affected race performance and what role athletes’ goals played in this relationship in two prospective studies with competitive triathletes (Study 1: N = 112; Study 2: N = 321). Regression analyses showed that perfectionistic personal standards, high performance-approach goals, low performance-avoidance goals, and high personal goals predicted race performance beyond athletes’ performance level. Moreover, the contrast between performance-avoidance and performance-approach goals mediated the relationship between perfectionistic personal standards and performance, whereas personal goal setting mediated the relationship between performance-approach goals and performance. The findings indicate that perfectionistic personal standards do not undermine competitive performance, but are associated with goals that help athletes achieve their best possible performance.
Jack A. G. Marlow and Mark Uphill
This study explored the characteristics, contextual factors and consequences of counterfactual thoughts in seven elite athletes using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Counterfactuals were experienced regularly with self-directed and upward counterfactuals (cognitions about how things could be better) being most frequent. These upward counterfactuals typically occurred following performance that was below participants’ goals and expectations. These thoughts were perceived by participants to have a negative affect initially, and that they then led to facilitative behavioral consequences around learning and development. Some elements of counterfactual thinking could be used as a useful reflective tool to encourage elite athletes to problem solve and motivate cognitive, emotional and behavioral change to enhance future performance.
Isobelle J.R. Biggin, Jan H. Burns and Mark Uphill
Research suggests elite athletes have an equal—or, in some circumstances, possibly higher—probability of developing mental ill-health as the general population. However, understanding of these issues among athletes and coaches remains largely limited. The perceptions of mental-health problems among 19 elite athletes and 16 coaches were explored using two concurrent three-round Delphi surveys whose responses were compared. Athletes and coaches expressed different opinions and experiences of mental ill-health among elite athletes. However, both groups felt the pressure athletes place on themselves is a significant contributing factor and that obsessional compulsive tendencies and anxiety may be particularly prevalent. While associated stigma was thought to be a barrier to seeking support, both groups felt sport and clinical psychologists would provide the most appropriate support, with coaches playing an important signposting role. Implications for athletes, coaches, and clinical and sport psychologists are explored and suggestions for future research are presented.
Marc V. Jones, Andrew M. Lane, Steven R. Bray, Mark Uphill and James Catlin
The present paper outlines the development of a sport-specific measure of precompetitive emotion to assess anger, anxiety, dejection, excitement, and happiness. Face, content, factorial, and concurrent validity were examined over four stages. Stage 1 had 264 athletes complete an open-ended questionnaire to identify emotions experienced in sport. The item pool was extended through the inclusion of additional items taken from the literature. In Stage 2 a total of 148 athletes verified the item pool while a separate sample of 49 athletes indicated the extent to which items were representative of the emotions anger, anxiety, dejection, excitement, and happiness. Stage 3 had 518 athletes complete a provisional Sport Emotion Questionnaire (SEQ) before competition. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a 22-item and 5-fac-tor structure provided acceptable model fit. Results from Stage 4 supported the criterion validity of the SEQ. The SEQ is proposed as a valid measure of precompetitive emotion for use in sport settings.