This article presents a reflective case study of an applied consultancy experience with a 22-year-old professional rugby league player. The primary aim of the intervention was to provide the client a confidential space where he could discuss his experiences in and outside of a sporting context while also exploring and challenging his core values and beliefs. The consultancy process lasted for 12 mo, leading to the development of a strong relationship. During this time, the client experienced multiple critical moments such as deselection from the first-team squad and contract negotiations, which at times led to reductions in his well-being and forced the trainee sport and exercise psychologist to consider his scope of practice in relation to mental health and depression. Reflections are provided that explore the possibility of referral during these moments. The case study also provides insight into the trainee sport and exercise psychologist’s philosophy of practice and how influential this can be when considering referral of a client. The importance of supervisor support during uncertain moments is highlighted, and the case study concludes with reflections from the client, trainee practitioner, and peer supervisor regarding the efficacy of the intervention and the decision not to refer.
One-to-One Support With a Professional Rugby League Player: A Case for Referral?
Nick Wadsworth, Ben Paszkowec, and Martin Eubank
The Influence of Anxiety Direction on Processing Bias
Martin Eubank, Dave Collins, and Nick Smith
In the presence of anxiety, threatening stimuli are allocated greater processing priority by high-trait-anxious individuals (Mathews, 1993). As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) might best account for individual differences, this investigation aimed to establish whether or not such processing priority is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators performed a modified Stroop test (Stroop, 1935) by reacting to neutral, positive, and negative word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4,80) = 3.95, p < .05, was evident, with facilitators exhibiting a processing bias toward positive words in positive mood conditions. The data support the contention that anxiety interpretation is an important distinguishing variable in accounting for processing bias and support the potential contribution of cognitive restructuring practices to athletic performance.
Anxiety and Ambiguity: It’s All Open to Interpretation
Martin Eubank, Dave Collins, and Nick Smith
Beck’s (1976) theoretical account of emotional vulnerability predicts that individuals who are vulnerable to anxiety will exhibit a cognitive processing bias for the threatening interpretation of ambiguous information. As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) may best account for individual differences, the aim of this study was to establish whether such processing bias is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators underwent a modified Stroop test by reacting to neutral and ambiguous word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4, 60) = 3.02, p < .05, was evident, with the reaction time of facilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the positive mood condition and debilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the negative mood condition. The findings illustrate the important role that anxiety interpretation plays in the mechanism involved in the processing of ambiguous information.
An Existential Counseling Case Study: Navigating Several Critical Moments With a Professional Football Player
Samuel Porter, Noora Ronkainen, Richard Sille, and Martin Eubank
The current article presents a reflective case study following an applied service delivery experience with a 21-year-old professional footballer. The primary aim of the intervention was to support the client while facing several critical moments (breakdown in relationships, identity, and contract negotiations). This support involved creating a confidential space for her to discuss her values, beliefs, and identity while considering some of the tensions and dilemmas experienced while considering her future. Throughout this process, the first author adopted an existential counseling approach to practice and utilized the Four Dimensions of Existence and Emotional Compass as hermeneutic devices to analyze the client’s presenting challenges. The working relationship lasted for 3 months and spanned eight online sessions. Reflections on practitioner individuation and the value of adopting an existential approach to service delivery are provided.
“Don’t Be Stupid, Stupid!” Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Irrational Beliefs and Enhance Focus in a Youth Tennis Player
Richard A. Sille, Martin J. Turner, and Martin R. Eubank
This case reports the intervention approach the first author adopted while working with a youth tennis player. The athlete held irrational beliefs and was struggling to maintain emotional control. The neophyte sport psychology practitioner adopted a cognitive-behavioral approach to practice. The intervention focused on (a) using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to replace unhelpful beliefs about unforced errors with a new rational philosophy and (b) using a distraction-control plan to restructure the player’s thoughts and beliefs in relation to opponents’ perceived gamesmanship. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated through qualitative data from the athlete and his parents and the reflections of the practitioner. Feedback suggests that REBT and distraction-control plans can be effective in helping youth athletes manage their thought patterns and improve emotional control during competition. This case also demonstrates the importance of practitioners’ having a flexible and adaptable approach to practice—one that meets individual client needs.
Stories of Critical Moments Contributing to the Development of Applied Sport Psychology Practitioners
Nick Wadsworth, Hayley McEwan, Moira Lafferty, Martin Eubank, and David Tod
This study explored the stories of critical moments experienced by applied sport psychology practitioners. The 13 recruited practitioners (eight male and five female) were in different stages of their development (trainee, neophyte, and experienced) and were asked to tell one story about a critical moment that significantly contributed to their development as applied practitioners. Narrative analysis was used to explore the stories of critical moments. Four distinct narrative structures were evident: Rebirth, Rags to Riches, Tragedy, and The Quest. There was one consistent narrative feature that supported these plots: Critical moments contribute toward an alignment between a practitioner’s beliefs and behavior, which supports the development of a congruent philosophy of practice and the environment they choose to work within. The authors recommend future research, such as the use of narrative analysis, to explore alternative narrative structures and the investigation of successful and unsuccessful consultancy experiences.
A Preliminary Investigation Into the Effect of Yoga Practice on Mindfulness and Flow in Elite Youth Swimmers
Richard M.H. Briegel-Jones, Zoe Knowles, Martin R. Eubank, Katie Giannoulatos, and Diane Elliot
Research has indicated positive effects of mindfulness training as a performance-based intervention and of yoga on mindfulness. This study examined the effects of a 10-week yoga intervention on mindfulness and dispositional flow of elite youth swimmers using a mixed methods design. No significant changes in mindfulness and dispositional flow were identified. Qualitative data suggested that the 10-week yoga intervention had a positive impact on a range of physiological, cognitive, and performance parameters that included elements of mindfulness and flow. Methodological considerations for future research are discussed.
An Alternative Dietary Strategy to Make Weight While Improving Mood, Decreasing Body Fat, and Not Dehydrating: A Case Study of a Professional Jockey
George Wilson, Neil Chester, Martin Eubank, Ben Crighton, Barry Drust, James P. Morton, and Graeme L. Close
Professional jockeys are unique among weight-making athletes, as they are often required to make weight daily and, in many cases, all year-round. Common methods employed by jockeys include dehydration, severe calorie restriction, and sporadic eating, all of which have adverse health effects. In contrast, this article outlines a structured diet and exercise plan, employed by a 22-yr-old professional National Hunt jockey in an attempt to reduce weight from 70.3 to 62.6 kg, that does not rely on any of the aforementioned techniques. Before the intervention, the client’s typical daily energy intake was 8.2 MJ (42% carbohydrate [CHO], 36% fat, 22% protein) consumed in 2 meals only. During the 9-wk intervention, daily energy intake was approximately equivalent to resting metabolic rate, which the athlete consumed as 6 meals per day (7.6 MJ, 46% CHO, 19% fat, 36% protein). This change in frequency and composition of energy intake combined with structured exercise resulted in a total body-mass loss of 8 kg, corresponding to reductions in body fat from 14.5% to 9%. No form of intentional dehydration occurred throughout this period, and mean urine osmolality was 285 mOsm/kg (SD 115 mOsm/kg). In addition, positive changes in mood scores (BRUMS scale) also occurred. The client was now able to ride light for the first time in his career without dehydrating, thereby challenging the cultural practices inherent in the sport.