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Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology 11th Annual Conference, October 16-20, 1996 Williamsburg, Virginia

Christy Greenleaf

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Athletic Body Image: Exploratory Interviews with Former Competitive Female Athlete

Christy Greenleaf

The purposes of this exploratory study were to examine athletic body image and social body image among former competitive female athletes. Additionally, the perceived influence of past competitive experiences on current body image was explored. In-depth interviews were conducted with six former competitive collegiate athletes. The participants ranged in age from 23 to 31, with a mean age of 26. Common factors reported as influencing how participants felt about their bodies as athletes included uniforms, teammates, appearance, fitness, and coach attitudes and behaviors. Participants’ experiences and feelings about their bodies in athletic and social settings varied. Participants recognized some conflict between their athletic body and social ideals, however this incongruence did not seem problematic for most of the participants. Across participants, their current feelings and thoughts about their bodies were based on their former competitive athletic bodies.

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In Search of Our Place: An Experiential Look at the Struggles of Young Sport and Exercise Psychology Feminists

Christy Greenleaf and Karen Collins

This paper presents our experiences, thoughts, and struggles in working toward understanding, embracing, and implementing feminist perspectives in our scholarship and practice. Mentors, through their encouragement, guidance, and support, have played key roles in our growth as feminist sport and exercise psychology professionals. It is through our work with mentors that we have moved closer toward understanding and identifying with being feminist scholars. In our research, we place women as the central focus of our work, take into account contextual factors, and look toward creating social change. The struggles we have faced as young professionals include countering stereotypes of feminism, integrating feminist methodologies and epistemology into a traditionally logical positivist field, and moving from research findings to creating social change. Looking toward the future, we hope that feminist sport and exercise psychology scholars continue to build a community to share and discuss the issues and struggles of feminist researchers.

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“I Feel Empowered and Alive!”: Exploring Embodiment Among Physically Active Women

Gretchen Paulson and Christy Greenleaf

This study explored the association between physical activity and the experience of embodiment among women aged 40 years and older. Women (n = 112; M age = 63.55, SD = 9.36) who reported engaging in physical activity at least twice per week completed an online survey including the Experiences of Embodiment Scale, Embodied Physical Activity Questionnaire, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and an open-ended item. Multivariate analysis of covariance indicated significant differences in embodiment between different levels of activity, and follow-up univariate analyses revealed that high active women reported higher scores on two Experiences of Embodiment Scale subscales (positive body connection and agency and expression) than low active women. Significant differences were also seen in Embodied Physical Activity Questionnaire scores across groups, with higher active women reporting stronger experiences of embodiment during exercise. The findings suggest a positive relationship between physical activity and experiences of embodiment and highlight the need to further explore ways to cultivate these experiences.

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Reaching for Gold and the Price of Glory: A Motivational Case Study of an Elite Gymnast

Vikki Krane, Jeannine Snow, and Christy A. Greenleaf

The present investigation is a qualitative case study of a former elite gymnast. The social cognitive approach to achievement motivation has been applied to understand and explain the behavior of this gymnast, her coaches, and her parents. The gymnast participated in three unstructured interviews which were grounded in a feminist view of sport and research (cf. Harding, 1991; Krane, 1994). The data analysis resulted in three dimensions: Motivational Climate, Evidence of an Ego Orientation, and Correlates of Ego Involvement. An ego-involved motivational environment was developed and reinforced by the gymnast’s coaches and parents. Her ego-involved goal orientation was revealed through her reliance on social comparison, emphasis on external feedback and rewards, need to demonstrate her superiority, and acting out behaviors in the face of adversity. This gymnast practiced and competed while seriously injured, employed unhealthy eating practices, overtrained, and refused to listen to medical advice in order to continue her quest towards the Olympic team. All of these behaviors are discussed within the framework of goal orientation theory.

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Psychosocial Risk Factors of Bulimic Symptomatology Among Female Athletes

Christy Greenleaf, Trent Petrie, Justine Reel, and Jennifer Carter

Petrie and Greenleaf (2007) presented a psychosocial model of disordered eating for female athletes. Based upon the 2007 model, the present study examined four key psychosocial variables: internalization, body dissatisfaction, restrained eating, and negative affect, as predictors of bulimic symptoms among NCAA Division I female athletes. Two hundred four women (N = 204) participated and were drawn from three different universities and competed in 17 different varsity sports. After controlling for the effects of body mass and social desirability, hierarchical regression analysis showed that the psychosocial variables explained 42% of the variance in bulimic symptoms. In the full model, higher levels of body dissatisfaction, more dietary restraint, and stronger feelings of guilt were associated with bulimic symptomatology. Internalization of the sociocultural ideal as well as feelings of fear, hostility, or sadness were unrelated.

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A Survey of U.S. Olympic Coaches: Variables Perceived to Have Influenced Athlete Performances and Coach Effectiveness

Daniel Gould, Christy Greenleaf, Diane Guinan, and Yongchul Chung

As part of a larger project to examine variables perceived to influence performance in Olympic competition, this manuscript was designed to (a) report coaches’ perceptions of variables influencing Olympic athlete performance, (b) triangulate findings from surveys and interviews with Olympic athletes, and (c) examine coaches’ perceptions of variables influencing Olympic coaching effectiveness. Surveys were completed by 46 U.S. Atlanta Olympic coaches (46% of all U.S. coaches) and 19 U.S. Nagano coaches (45% of all U.S. coaches). A large number of variables were perceived by coaches to have influenced athlete performances and included having plans for dealing with distractions, strong team chemistry and cohesion, loud and enthusiastic crowd support, high levels of athlete confidence, and fair and effective team selection. Variables perceived to have influenced coaching effectiveness included markedly changed coaching behaviors, the inability to establish trust with athletes, the inability to effectively handle crisis situations, staying cool under pressure, and making fair but decisive decisions.

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Worries and Fears Associated With Competitive Gymnastics

Scott B. Martin, Christy M. Polster, Allen W. Jackson, Christy A. Greenleaf, and Gretchen M. Jones

The purpose of this investigation was to explore the frequency and intensity of worries and fears associated with competitive gymnastics. These issues were initially examined in a sample of 7 female college gymnasts using a semistructured guided interview. From the themes that emerged and relevant literature, a survey including parallel intensity and frequency of worry questions was administered to 120 female gymnasts competing in USA Gymnastics sanctioned events. Results indicated that even though gymnasts worry about attempting and performing skills on the balance beam and uneven bars, more of them experienced a greater number of injuries on the floor exercise. Analysis of covariance for intensity and frequency using age as the covariate revealed that advanced gymnasts had more intense worries about body changes and performing skills and more frequent worries about body changes than less skilled gymnasts (p < .05). Advanced gymnasts also reported using more strategies to modify their worries than did less skilled gymnasts.

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Factors Affecting Olympic Performance: Perceptions of Athletes and Coaches from More and Less Successful Teams

Daniel Gould, Diane Guinan, Christy Greenleaf, Russ Medbery, and Kirsten Peterson

This study was designed to examine if mental skills and strategies such as high confidence, commitment, and the use of cooperative routines, as well as previously unexamined physical, social, and environmental factors affect Olympic performance. Athletes and coaches from 8 Atlanta US Olympic teams were interviewed. Four teams met/exceeded performance expectations and 4 teams failed to perform up to performance predictions. Focus group interviews were conducted with 2 to 4 athletes from each team. Individual interviews were conducted with 1 or 2 coaches from each team. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by three trained investigators using hierarchical content analyses. Differences existed between teams that met/exceeded performance expectations and teams that failed. Teams that met/exceeded expectations participated in resident training programs, experienced crowd and family or friend support, utilized mental preparation, and were highly focused and committed. Teams that failed to meet expectations experienced planning and team cohesion problems, lacked experience, faced travel problems, experienced coaching problems, and encountered problems related to focus and commitment. Results indicated that achievement of peak performance at the Olympic Games is a complex and delicate process influenced by a variety of psychological, physical, social, and organizational factors.

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The Relationship Between Body Dissatisfaction and Bulimic Symptoms in Female Collegiate Athletes

Megan Brannan, Trent A. Petrie, Christy Greenleaf, Justine Reel, and Jennifer Carter

In this study, we extended past research (Brannan & Petrie, 2008; Tylka, 2004) by examining perfectionism, optimism, self-esteem, and reasons for exercising as moderators of the body dissatisfaction-bulimic symptoms relationship among female collegiate athletes (N= 204). Hierarchical moderated regression was used to control for social desirability and physical size and then tested the main and interactive effects of the models. Body dissatisfaction was related to the measure of bulimic symptoms, accounting for 24% of the variance. Four variables were statistically significant as moderators. More concern over mistakes and being motivated to exercise to improve appearance and attractiveness or to socialize and improve mood increased the strength of the relationship between body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms. Self-esteem had a buffering effect that resulted in a weakened relationship.