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Claire-Marie Roberts

Acute pulmonary disorders are commonplace within the athletic population, with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) common diagnoses. VCD is a condition that causes the vocal folds to close during inhalation, causing obstruction at the larynx and thereby a severely-impaired sporting performance. VCD can be brought on by laryngeal irritants, emotional and psychological stress, and asthma. The present case study details the interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of an elite female swimmer with VCD with an intervention program that lasted 9 weeks, instigated by a local general practitioner who chose to engage a sport psychology practitioner due to the sport-specific nature of the psychological stress she experienced. The steps involved in the design of the sport psychology interventions are outlined and the relationship of those interventions to the work of the other specialists is discussed. The 9-week intervention program was aimed at reducing the swimmer’s levels of precompetitive state anxiety and perfectionist tendencies using a combination of goal-setting, imagery, and cognitive restructuring. During the course of 9 weeks, the athlete’s levels of competitive state anxiety and perfectionist tendencies reduced, along with the frequency of VCD occurrence.

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Claire-Marie Roberts and Jacky Forsyth

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Göran Kenttä, Stephen Mellalieu and Claire-Marie Roberts

This paper presents a case study of an elite female coach and her career termination from a 20+ year career following a critical life incident. A novel autobiographical approach was adopted whereby the participant undertook expressive writing to describe her experiences before, during, and following coaching an athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Thematic analysis indicated seven phases related to the participant’s experiences of the critical incident: Build up to the event, the event, the aftermath, recovery and reflection on the event, sampling of new avenues, enlightenment, and career rebirth. The findings reinforce the high demands placed upon elite coaches, the subsequent threats to physical and mental well-being, and the importance of having robust psychological skills and suitable social support to cope with these demands. Implications for preparing and supporting coaches for successful career transition are discussed.