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The Effects of an Exploratory Mindfulness Intervention on Collegiate Performance

Maya Trajkovski and Aubrey Newland

Although mindfulness has been suggested as a means to improve athletes’ performance, few studies have connected changes in mindfulness with improved performance. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of an exploratory mindfulness intervention (MI) on performance using a mixed methods design. Thirty-four female National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) soccer athletes participated in a 12-week MI. Using the Mindfulness Inventory for Sport, athletic performance and self-perceived ability during the first three games of the season compared to the final three games of the season (August–November 2019) were analyzed using paired t tests. Postintervention focus groups explored athletes’ perceptions of the MI on performance. Mindfulness, shots per game, and self-perceived athletic ability increased after the MI. Six themes emerged from the focus groups: awareness, increased focus, letting-go mentality, skill acquisition, self-compassion, and team cohesion. Coaches and sport psychology practitioners may consider implementing similar MI to improve performance and overall athletic experiences.

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Exploring the Athletic Identity, Anxiety, and Mental Health of Division II Collegiate Athletes in the COVID-19 Era

Justin A. Hebert and Aubrey Newland

The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications on the health and well-being of student-athletes. The present study explored the athletic experiences of NCAA Division II college athletes during the competitive hiatus caused by the pandemic, as well as in their return to sport participation. Twenty male and female student-athletes from a variety of sports (freshman = 2, sophomores = 4, seniors = 9, and graduate = 5) participated in semistructured interviews to explore how the pandemic affected their athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health. Through the use of thematic content analysis, the following major themes were identified: (a) influence of COVID on athletic identity, (b) increased anxiety during COVID, (c) social aspects of sport participation, and (d) factors that influence mental health. Findings indicated a combination of positive and negative effects on the athletic identity, anxiety, and mental health and well-being of student-athletes.

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Examining the Relationship Between Mental Skills and Grit in Senior Olympic Athletes

Aubrey Newland, Rich Gitelson, and W. Eric Legg

Given the challenge of consistent physical activity among aging adults, it is important to find ways to increase physical activity levels in this population. Participants in the Senior Olympic Games may extend their sport participation through the use of mental skills. This study examined the relationship between mental skills use by Senior Olympic Games participants and their grit, or passion and perseverance, toward a long-term goal. The participants in the Arizona Senior Olympic Games (n = 304) completed an online survey of mental skills use (Athletic Coping Skills Inventory) and grit (Grit Scale-Short). Based on the ongoing validity and reliability issues of the Grit Scale-Short, two regression models were examined, with consistency of interests (passion) and perseverance of effort (perseverance) as dependent variables. After controlling for age and sex, mental skills accounted for 15.2% of the variance in consistency of interests and 13.1% of the variability in perseverance of effort. The results are discussed in light of the findings.

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Managing the Complexity: An Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Noticing Within Orchestration

Aubrey Newland and Lori A. Gano-Overway

Sport coaching is an inherently complex endeavor. To manage this complexity, some coaches engage in orchestration to plan, organize, monitor, and respond to the dynamic sport environment. Using an ethnographic approach, the current research aimed to understand how a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II female basketball coach orchestrated the complex and relational nature of coaching over the course of a sport season and with particular attention to how noticing occurred and informed orchestration. A combination of formal and informal coach and player interviews, observation and field notes, and audio reflections of the coach was carried out over the course of the season. The authors used a realist tale to illustrate the complexity of the coaching experience and how the coach used noticing and relational schemas to navigate ambiguity, the micropolitical landscape, and interpersonal relationships to steer the team toward personal growth and high performance.

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Certified Athletic Trainers' Perspectives on Rehabilitation Adherence in Collegiate Athletic Training Settings

Megan D. Granquist, Leslie Podlog, Joanna R. Engel, and Aubrey Newland

Context:

Adherence to sport-injury rehabilitation protocols may be pivotal in ensuring successful rehabilitation and return-to-play outcomes.

Objectives:

To investigate athletic trainers' perspectives related to the degree to which rehabilitation adherence is an issue in collegiate athletic training settings, gain insight from certified athletic trainers regarding the factors contributing to rehabilitation nonadherence (underadherence and overadherence), and ascertain views on the most effective means for promoting adherence.

Design:

Crosssectional, mixed methods.

Setting:

Collegiate athletic training in the United States.

Participants:

Certified athletic trainers (n = 479; 234 male, 245 female).

Main Outcome Measures:

Online survey consisting of 3 questions regarding rehabilitation adherence, each followed by an open-ended comments section. Descriptive statistics were calculated for quantitative items; hierarchical content analyses were conducted for qualitative items.

Results:

Most (98.3%) participants reported poor rehabilitation adherence to be a problem (1.7% = no problem, 29.2% = minor problem, 49.7% = problem, 19.4% = major problem), while most (98.96%) participants reported that they had athletes who exhibited poor rehabilitation adherence (1% = never, 71.4% = occasionally, 22.5% = often, 5% = always). In addition, the majority (97.91%) of participants reported that overadherence (eg, doing too much, failing to comply with activity restrictions, etc) was at least an occasional occurrence (2.1% = never, 69.3% = occasionally, 26.3% = often, 1.9% = always). Hierarchical content analyses regarding the constructs of poor adherence and overadherence revealed 4 major themes: the motivation to adhere, the development of good athletic trainer–athlete rapport and effective communication, athletic trainers' perception of the coaches' role in fostering adherence, and the influence of injury- or individual- (eg, injury severity, sport type, gender) specific characteristics on rehabilitation adherence.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that participants believe that underadherence (and to a lesser extent overadherence) is a frequent occurrence in collegiate athletic training settings. Strategies for enhancing rehabilitation adherence rates and preventing overadherence may therefore be important for optimizing rehabilitation outcomes.

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Transformational Leadership and Positive Youth Development in Basketball

Aubrey Newland, Maria Newton, E. Whitney G. Moore, and W. Eric Legg

Given the key role coaches play in the experience of athletes, understanding the relationship between coach leadership styles and positive youth development (PYD) is crucial. This study examined the relationship of coach transformational leadership (TFL) to PYD. Athletes (n = 203) nested within 28 competitive youth basketball teams completed questionnaires about their coaches’ TFL, and two measures related to their own PYD – Youth Experiences for Sport, measuring PYD specific to the sport context, and a measure to assess the 5Cs (Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, and Caring). Due to the nested nature of athletes within team and significant intraclass correlations, the predictive contribution of team and individual level perceptions of TFL was assessed with multilevel modeling. Individual and team perceptions of coach TFL significantly predicted 59% of the YES-S variance. In addition to team and individual main effects, a significant cross-level interaction predicted 20% of a player’s development of the 5Cs. Thus, athletes reporting above average coach TFL on teams reporting above average coach TFL reported the greatest 5C development. These results provide additional support for TFL as an avenue to foster PYD. Findings elucidate transformational coach behaviors that are related to positive experiences in youth sport and the 5Cs.