The purpose of this article is to present practitioners and applied researchers with specific details of a developmental sport psychology program and coaching intervention at a professional football (soccer) academy in Great Britain. Based on a positive youth development agenda, initial consulting work with players and parents focused on education and monitoring of the 5Cs of football: Commitment, communication, concentration, control, and confidence. This was subsequently followed up with an educational and behavioral coaching intervention related to integrating the 5Cs in training and practice situations. The 4-month program aimed to specifically enhance a coach’s efficacy in shaping positive psychological and interpersonal skills in young players ranging in age from 9 to 14 years. Six coaches responsible for the development of 95 young players were involved in the program. The results of the intervention are presented for each individual coach and supplemented by interview data. Insights are provided into the role, value, and methodology behind applying sport psychology in youth-sport settings.
Chris Harwood and Austin Swain
The present study forms the first of two progressive investigations into the development and activation of achievement goals within young sports performers. The focal research question in this paper centers on identifying and understanding some of the underlying factors and processes responsible for the socialization of goal orientations and the activation of goal involvement states in a competition context. In-depth interviews were conducted on seventeen elite junior tennis players who represented a full cross-section of achievement goal profiles. Following inductive content analyses, four general dimensions emerged demonstrating how the development and activation of task and ego goals rested on a complex interaction of cognitive-developmental and social-environmental factors. Specific general dimensions included cognitive developmental skills and experiences, the motivational climate conveyed by significant others, the structural and social nature of the game, and the match context. The rich detail within these dimensions serves not only to extend our knowledge of achievement goals and achievement goal theory, but also to inform practitioners of key components to effective social-cognitive interventions.
Chris Harwood and Austin Swain
This study acts as a follow-up to a previous investigation into the development and activation of achievement goals within young tennis players (Harwood & Swain, 2001). The project investigated the effects of a season-long player, parent, and coach intervention program on goal involvement responses, self-regulation, competition cognitions, and goal orientations of three junior tennis players. First, each player reported goal involvement, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and perceptions of threat and challenge prior to three ego-involving match situations. Aligned with a matched control participant, each treatment player, with their parents and coach, engaged in educational sessions and cognitive-motivational tasks over a three-month competition and training period. Postintervention, positive directional changes were reported in all players except the control participant. This study reinforces to applied researchers and practitioners the importance and practicability of social-cognitive and task-based interventions designed to facilitate optimal, motivational, and psychological states in high pressure competitive situations.
Toby Woolway and Chris Harwood
Understanding the practitioner attributes that influence consumers’ preferences is of vital importance to licensing organizations and individual practitioners in the field of sport psychology (Hamberger & Iso-Ahola, 2006; Van Raalte, Brewer, Matheson & Brewer, 1996). This study examined consumer preferences toward three professional titles (sport psychologist, life coach, and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner) and a range of other practitioner characteristics, as well as the extent to which a brief intervention impacted these preferences. Following an assessment of current preferences among athletes (N = 229), researchers presented brief, educational vignettes formed of enhanced information regarding the three professions. Conjoint analysis was used to determine the relative importance of practitioner attributes pre- and postintervention. Interpersonal skills emerged as the most important attribute before intervention. Several significant, postintervention changes emerged in consumer preferences for practitioners, including an increased salience of professional title. The findings are discussed with an emphasis on implications for the training, professional development, and marketing of practitioners to potential clients.
Chris Harwood and Lew Hardy
In their response to our recent paper (Harwood, Hardy, & Swain, 2000), Treasure et al. (2001) claimed to have clarified our misconceptions and misrepresentations of achievement goal research. After first of all commenting on the apparently rather emotive nature of their response, we logically deal with each of their criticisms. Specifically, we present sound theoretical arguments to show that: (a) personal theories of achievement hold primacy over achievement goals; (b) we are not “particularly confused” (or even a little confused) in our understanding of conceptions of ability; (c) there are excellent reasons for examining the possibility of a tripartite approach to goal orientation and goal involvement; and (d) the issue of measurement in achievement goal research needs to be carefully reconsidered. Further, in response to the status quo offered by Treasure and colleagues, we call for more innovative research that will help progress the impact of achievement goal theory in competitive sport.
Matthew Pain and Chris Harwood
This article describes a team building intervention with a soccer team during a competitive season. Based on a mutual sharing paradigm we facilitated a series of four team meetings in which team functioning was openly discussed. These meetings were based upon highly structured performance reviews completed by players after each match and analyzed to provide the stimulus for discussion. We adopted a single-case, time series design with multiple pretests and posttests. A postintervention focus group was also conducted with the players. Results suggest the intervention led to improvements in perceptions of team functioning (cohesion, communication, and trust and confidence in teammates), training quality, self-understanding, player ownership and team performance. Players associated the meetings with themes of honesty, open team discussion, sharing of information, and improved communication. The results support the efficacy of team building interventions designed to encourage open discussion of team functioning.
Guy Little and Chris Harwood
This article discusses issues surrounding the potential violation of sexual boundaries in sport psychology consultancy and critically evaluates the current state of knowledge in the field. Limited discussion and research relating to this ethical issue exists within sport psychology; the discussion that has occurred has mainly focused on erotic transference and countertransference (Andersen, 2005). Research and knowledge from clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and psychotherapy proffers ideas for discussion and research into the factors that precipitate sexual boundary violations. The relevance of the controversial practice of touch as a therapeutic tool and a stimulus for sexual boundary violations is considered, alongside implications for the training of neophyte practitioners through role-playing, peer support, and supervision.
Matthew A. Pain, Chris Harwood, and Rich Anderson
This article describes an intervention on the precompetition routines of soccer players during a 19-week phase of a competitive season. Specifically, we worked with players to develop an enhanced understanding of the effectiveness of personalized preperformance music and imagery scripts in facilitating flow states and performance. Five male players (M age = 20.5; S.D = 1.6) participated in a single-subject multiple baseline across individuals design with multiple treatments and without reversal. Following a preintervention phase, participants undertook the intervention during their prematch warm-up. Flow and perceived performance were assessed immediately after each match. Results indicated that asynchronous music and MG-M imagery when combined had a facilitative effect on flow and perceived performance. Postexperimental player comments supported these findings and suggest that the intervention strategy has great potential for athletes during precompetition. Consultancy guidelines for the use of music and imagery within competitive soccer are presented in the discussion.
Chris G. Harwood and Sam N. Thrower
The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive narrative review of extant scientific knowledge on the effectiveness of performance-enhancement-based interventions in youth sport settings. Specifically, the authors explore the effects of psychological interventions on the sport performance of young athletes (18 yr of age or under). Drawing on over 80 published studies that have attempted to enhance young athletes’ performances using a range of methodological and strategic approaches, four main clusters of research are presented. These clusters include single-strategy psychological-skills-training (PST) interventions, multimodal PST interventions, alternative single-strategy interventions, and alternative multimodal interventions. In each of these clusters, the landscape of work is overviewed and papers of particular methodological interest are highlighted before the authors draw out critical reflections, future research directions, and recommendations for supporting further scholarship and practice with young athletes.
Chris Harwood, Lew Hardy, and Austin Swain
This article presents a critical analysis of the conceptualization and measurement of achievement goals in sport. It highlights conceptual and measurement inconsistencies of Nicholls’s (1984) achievement-goal theory in education with respect to its applicability to sport. It proposes that differentiation between ability and effort does not underpin the activation of task and ego goal perspectives in a sport performance context and that the definitions of task and ego involvement in the classroom might not generalize to sport. It offers an alternative conceptual approach incorporating three goal perspectives, as both a theoretical and a practical solution. It addresses goal involvement in sport performance contexts by emphasizing the value of assessing self-referent and normative conceptions of achievement at different time frames. Overall, this critique attempts to advance our understanding of both achievement goals and individual performers in the competitive sport domain.