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.
Mark A. Uphill and Brian Hemmings
Ian W. Maynard, Brian Hemmings, and Lawrence Warwick-Evans
The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a somatic intervention technique. Subjects (N = 17) completed a modified version of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory 2 (CSAI-2), which assessed both intensity and direction (debilitative-facilitative) of state anxiety within one hour of a soccer league match. During the match, player performances were evaluated using intraindividual criteria. Subjects were then allocated to control (n = 8) and experimental (n = 9) groups on the basis of their somatic anxiety intensity and direction scores. Following an 8-week intervention, subjects were again assessed during a second soccer match. A series of twoway analyses of variance with one repeated measure revealed significant interactions for cognitive anxiety intensity, somatic anxiety intensity, and somatic anxiety direction. This study provided further support for the “matching hypotheses” in that a compatible treatment proved most effective in reducing the targeted anxiety.
Stephen Pack, Brian Hemmings, and Monna Arvinen-Barrow
The maturation processes of applied sport psychologists have received little research attention despite trainees and practitioners having often reported experiencing challenging circumstances when working with clients. Within clinical psychology literature the self-practice of cognitive techniques, alongside self-reflection, has been advocated as a means of addressing such circumstances, and as a significant source of experiential learning. The present study sought to identify the possible types of, and purposes for, self-practice among twelve UK-based sport psychology practitioners. Thematic analysis of semistructured interviews indicated all participants engaged in self-practice for reasons such as managing the self, enhancing understanding of intervention, and legitimising intervention. Some participants also described limitations to self-practice. Subsequently, three overriding themes emerged from analysis: a) the professional practice swamp, b) approaches to, and purposes for, self-practice, and, c) limitations of self-practice. It is concluded that self-practice may provide a means of better understanding self-as-person and self-as-practitioner, and the interplay between both, and is recommended as part of on-going practitioner maturation.
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Kelsey DeGrave, Stephen Pack, and Brian Hemmings
The purpose of this study was to document the lived experiences of professional cricketers who had encountered a career-ending non-musculoskeletal injury. Three male cricketers each with over nine years of playing experience in professional cricket representing England and Wales participated in retrospective in-depth semi-structured interviews. The Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis revealed that at the time of the injury, the participants were at the “final stretch” of their professional sporting careers and that despite a range of unpleasant reactions to injury, all participants experienced a healthy career transition out of sport. To best prepare athletes for a life outside of sport, ensuring athletes have sufficient plans in motion early on in their careers can reduce external and internal stressors, which if not addressed, can increase sport injury risk and have a negative effect on athletes’ reactions post-injury.
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Brian Hemmings, Daniel Weigand, Caryl Becker, and Lynn Booth
To assess, on a national level, the views of chartered physiotherapists with regard to the psychological content of physiotherapy practice.
A postal survey to a national list of sport injury and physiotherapy clinics was employed.
A total of 361 responses were included in the descriptive statistical and qualitative analyses.
The Physiotherapist and Sport Psychology Questionnaire (PSPQ).
On average, physiotherapists felt that athletes were psychologically affected 83% of the time when injured. Key psychological characteristics were also identified in athletes who cope/do not cope successfully with their injuries. Physiotherapists reported using psychological techniques in their work and expressed the need for further training in the field. Only 24.1% of the physiotherapists stated having accesses to accredited sport psychologists.
Results suggest that UK physiotherapists possess practical experiences and good awareness for psychological aspects of injuries and acknowledge the importance of treating a range of psychological conditions.
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Brian Hemmings, Caryl A. Becker, and Lynn Booth
To gain an insight to the existing suggestions and recommendations on chartered physiotherapists’ preferred methods of delivery for further training in sport psychology.
Julie A. Waumsley, Brian Hemmings, and Simon M. Payne
To date there has not been a comprehensive discussion in the literature of work-life balance for the sport psychology consultant. The number and complexity of roles often undertaken by consultants may lead to potential stress if roles conflict. Underpinned by Role Theory (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964) and the Spillover Hypothesis (Staines, 1980) this paper draws on the work-life balance literature to present the potential conflicts and ethical dilemmas experienced by the sport psychology consultant as a result of conducting multiple roles. With an applied focus, ways of obtaining work-life balance are suggested through a psychological model outlining personal organizational skills, ongoing supervision/mentoring and reflective practice, and safeguarding leisure time. While certain aspects of the model are built on the UK experience, many of the suggestions will be applicable to sport psychology consultants regardless of their location. Ideas for future research directions involving exploring conflicting roles, work-life balance and coping issues for the sport psychology consultant are presented.
Stephen Pack, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Stacy Winter, and Brian Hemmings
Previous research demonstrates that sport psychology consultants use humor to facilitate working alliances, reinforce client knowledge, and create healthy learning environments. The current study sought to gain further insights into consultants’ reflections on the role of humor, humor styles, purposes for humor, and experiences of humor use. Forty-eight sport psychology consultants completed an online survey comprising open-ended questions. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: “It’s the way I tell ’em,” “It’s the way I don’t tell ’em,” “This is why I tell ’em,” and learning to use humor in consultancy. Participants used 2 styles of humor (deadpan and self-deprecating), each with the goal of facilitating the working alliance. Although not all participants used humor during consultancy, its incorporation might render the working alliance and real relationship as resources in ways (e.g., a “barometer” that predicts consultancy outcomes) previously not considered in applied sport psychology.
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Damien Clement, Jennifer Jordan Hamson-Utley, Cindra Kamphoff, Rebecca Zakrajsek, Sae-Mi Lee, Brian Hemmings, Taru Lintunen, and Scott B. Martin
Athletes enter injury rehabilitation with certain expectations about the recovery process, outcomes, and the professional providing treatment. Their expectations influence the effectiveness of the assistance received and affect the overall rehabilitation process. Expectations may vary depending on numerous factors such as sport experience, gender, sport type, and cultural background. Unfortunately, limited information is available on athletes’ expectations about sport-injury rehabilitation.
To examine possible differences in athletes’ expectations about sport-injury rehabilitation based on their country of residence and type of sport (contact vs noncontact).
Recreational, college, and professional athletes from the US, UK, and Finland were surveyed.
Of the 1209 athletes ranging from 12 to 80 y of age (mean 23.46 ± 7.91), 529 US [80%], 253 UK [86%], and 199 Finnish [82%] athletes provided details of their geographical location and were included in the final analyses.
Main Outcome Measures:
The Expectations About Athletic Training (EAAT) questionnaire was used to determine athletes’ expectations about personal commitment, facilitative conditions, and the expertise of the sports-medicine professional (SMP).
A 3 × 2 MANCOVA revealed significant main effects for country (P = .0001, ηp 2 = .055) and sport type (P = .0001, ηp 2 = .023). Specifically, US athletes were found to have higher expectations of personal commitment and facilitative conditions than their UK and Finnish counterparts. Athletes participating in contact sports had higher expectations of facilitative conditions and the expertise of the SMP than did athletes participating in noncontact sports.
SMPs, especially those in the US, should consider the sport and environment when providing services. In addition, SMPs need to highlight and demonstrate their expertise during the rehabilitation process, especially for those who compete in contact sports.
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Damien Clement, Jennifer J. Hamson-Utley, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Sae-Mi Lee, Cindra Kamphoff, Taru Lintunen, Brian Hemmings, and Scott B. Martin
Existing theoretical frameworks and empirical research support the applicability and usefulness of integrating mental skills throughout sport injury rehabilitation.
To determine what, if any, mental skills athletes use during injury rehabilitation, and by who these skills were taught. Cross-cultural differences were also examined.
College athletes from 5 universities in the United States and a mixture of collegiate, professional, and recreational club athletes from the United Kingdom and Finland were recruited for this study.
A total of 1283 athletes from the United States, United Kingdom, and Finland, who participated in diverse sports at varying competitive levels took part in this study.
Main Outcome Measures:
As part of a larger study on athletes’ expectations of injury rehabilitation, participants were asked a series of open-ended and closed-ended questions concerning their use of mental skills during injury rehabilitation.
Over half (64.0%) of the sample reported previous experience with athletic training, while 27.0% indicated that they used mental skills during injury rehabilitation. The top 3 mental skills reported were goal setting, positive self-talk/positive thoughts, and imagery. Of those athletes that used mental skills, 71.6% indicated that they felt mental skills helped them to rehabilitate faster. A greater proportion of athletes from the United States (33.4%) reported that they used mental skills during rehabilitation compared with athletes from the United Kingdom (23.4%) and Finland (20.3%). A small portion (27.6%) of the participants indicated that their sports medicine professional had taught them how to use mental skills; only 3% were taught mental skills by a sport psychologist.
The low number of athletes who reported using mental skills during rehabilitation is discouraging, but not surprising given research findings that mental skills are underutilized by injured athletes in the 3 countries examined. More effort should be focused on educating and training athletes, coaches, and sports medicine professionals on the effectiveness of mental training in the injury rehabilitation context.