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Clifford J. Mallett

The coach is central to the development of expertise in sport (Bloom, 1985) and is subsequently key to facilitating adaptive forms of motivation to enhance the quality of sport performance (Mallett & Hanrahan, 2004). In designing optimal training environments that are sensitive to the underlying motives of athletes, the coach requires an in-depth understanding of motivation. This paper reports on the application of self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) to coaching elite athletes. Specifically, the application of SDT to designing an autonomy-supportive motivational climate is outlined, which was used in preparing Australia’s two men’s relay teams for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

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Clifford J. Mallett and Tristan J. Coulter

Little in-depth knowledge is known about the person behind successful coaching. Therefore, the current study was designed to comprehensively examine the personality of a successful Olympic coach. Using McAdams’ whole-person framework, we sought to elicit a coherent description of this coach’s personality by integrating data drawn from three layers of personality: (i) dispositional traits, (ii) personal strivings, and (iii) narrative identity. The findings suggest that, compared with the norm, the participant coach is emotionally stable, agreeable, conscientious, and open to new experiences. His achievement and power strivings shape his motivational agenda as a coach. His narrative identity identifies many redemptive sequences that speak of a coach who is seeking to redeem his failures as an athlete, to feel special, and who invests himself wholeheartedly into developing others to help fulfill their potential. Overall, the study, incorporating McAdams’ personality framework, provided a deep understanding of the person as a coach. We were able to garner insights about how this individual typically behaves, what guides and structures his coaching priorities, and how he has made sense of his life experiences that are fundamental to his investment in coaching and winning. Tentative implications for coaches and coach developers are presented.

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Clifford J. Mallett and Stephanie J. Hanrahan

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a specific cognitive race plan on 100 m sprint performance. Twelve elite sprinters (11 male and 1 female) performed 100 m time trials under normal (control) conditions and then under experimental conditions (use of race cues). In the experimental condition, participants were asked to think about specific thought content in each of three segments of the 100 m. A multiple baseline design was employed. A mean improvement of 0.26 s was found. Eleven of the 12 participants showed improvement using the specific cognitive race plan (p < .005). Participants also produced more consistent sprint performances when using the cues (p < .01). Subjective evaluations made by the participants unanimously supported the use of the race plan for optimizing sprint performance. Environmental conditions, effort, and practice effects were considered as possible influences on the results.

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Sergio Lara-Bercial and Clifford J. Mallett

In 2011, the Innovation Group of Leading Agencies of the International Council for Coaching Excellence initiated a project aimed at supporting the identification and development of the next generation of high performance coaches. The project, entitled Serial Winning Coaches, studied the personalities, practices and developmental pathways of professional and Olympic coaches who had repeatedly achieved success at the highest level of sport. This paper is the third publication originating from this unique project. In the first paper, Mallett and Coulter (2016) focused on the development and testing of a novel multilayered methodology in understanding a person through a single case study of a successful Olympic coach. In the second, Mallett and Lara-Bercial (2016) applied this methodology to a large sample of Serial Winning Coaches and offered a composite account of their personality. In this third instalment, we turn the focus onto the actual practices and developmental pathways of these coaches. The composite profile of their practice emerging from the analysis revolves around four major themes: Philosophy, Vision, People and Environment. In addition, a summary of the developmental activities accessed by these coaches and their journey to success is also offered. Finally, we consider the overall findings of the project and propose the concept of Driven Benevolence as the overarching operational principle guiding the actions and behaviours of this group of Serial Winning Coaches.

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Jarred F. Parkes and Clifford J. Mallett

Recent research has identified optimism as an underlying mechanism of mental toughness (Coulter, Mallett, & Gucciardi, 2010). To further understand what elements of mental toughness can be developed, the current study evaluated the utility of an optimism intervention that employed cognitive-behavioral techniques (e.g., identifying automatic thoughts; testing accuracy of thoughts) to retrain attributional style. Seven male rugby players who were competing in first grade club rugby participated in the intervention. The effectiveness of the program was partially evaluated via self-reports of the Sport Attributional Style Scale (Hanrahan, Grove, & Hattie, 1989). Qualitative data were also collected via a focus group and semistructured interviews. The quantitative results provided minimal support for the utility of the intervention; there was evidence to suggest participants’ attributions became more external for negative events. The qualitative data suggested that participants (a) developed greater resilience in the face of adversity, (b) were more confident in their sport, and (c) developed a more optimistic explanatory style for negative events. The qualitative findings support the utility of a cognitive-behavioral based attribution retraining intervention for developing optimism in rugby players. The data also supported the flexible use of external attributions for negative events.

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Sebastian Altfeld, Clifford J. Mallett, and Michael Kellmann

The development of burnout in the vocation of sports coaching is a process that can take months or even years. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of longitudinal examination of coaches’ burnout, stress, and recovery. The present study investigated burnout, stress, and recovery of full and part-time coaches to examine possible changes during the course of the season. Twenty-five full-time and 45 part-time active German coaches of different sports and competition levels completed the German coaches’ version of the MBI and the RESTQ for Coaches at three time points. Inferential statistical analysis revealed significant changes of full-time coaches’ stress and recovery scores over the course of the season. Moreover, the work hours per week were significantly higher at the end of the season. Post hoc analysis revealed that full-time coaches whose values of perceived success decreased over the season showed increased emotional stress and decreased recovery values. Part-time coaches reported consistent stress experiences. Consequently, findings suggest that full-time coaches experienced increased emotional stress, invested more time, and had insufficient recovery during the season. Thus, the results highlighted the significant role of recovery for full-time coaches and were particularly important to enhance the understanding of coaches’ work.

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Mark O’Sullivan, Vladislav A. Bespomoshchnov, and Clifford J. Mallett

Who is the “Magic Man” ( In 2017, Pavel Datsyuk was named as one of the 100 greatest National Hockey League players in ice hockey history. His Detroit Red Wings teammate Niklas Kronwall quipped, “Pav is the Magic Man for a reason. He does things out there with the puck that no one else can do.” This statement begs the questions: When, where, and how did Pavel learn those creative skills? To gain insight into how the “Magic Man,” Pavel Datsyuk, acquired such sophisticated yet unorthodox skills, we endeavored to investigate the preprofessional years of Pavel’s development. Utilizing a case study methodology and leaning on the theoretical framework of ecological dynamics, we sought to examine the ecological niche that helped shape Pavel’s learning in development. Our case study highlights the ecological nature of the development of expertise and the nonlinear impact ecological constraints had on the development of Pavel’s expertise.

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Andrew Kennedy, Paul E. Dux, and Clifford J. Mallett

Higher-order cognitive functions refer to a collection of executive processes, which support the production of controlled, coordinated, and adaptive cognitive operations. Within the field of sports coaching, higher-order cognitive functions, such as cognitive control, are perceived to be beneficial for expert performance. Nevertheless, there is currently no empirical evidence base linking these cognitive capacities with sports coaching expertise. It, therefore, seems both timely and appropriate to explore the higher-order capacities of sports coaches and better understand existing relationships. In this insight paper, we make a case for adopting domain-general experimental approaches to progress knowledge and understanding of the relationships between fundamental higher-order cognitive capacities and sports coaching expertise. In making our case, we provide conceptual discussions on the possible associations between higher-order cognitive functions and sports coaches’ cognitive operations. We additionally outline the potential advantages of informing an empirical evidence base about higher-order cognitive capacities for sports coaching research and practice.

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Max H. Andrews, Steven B. Rynne, and Clifford J. Mallett

Many sports are shifting to shared leadership models, but cricket remains somewhat wedded to traditional models of leadership. Female cricket especially might challenge this traditional model. Understanding how players and coaches have similar, or differing, views can inform how to implement contemporary leadership models into cricket and extend conceptions of athlete leadership. Therefore, this study examined how the coach and players have similar or differing understandings of shared athlete leadership in their cricket team. An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was adopted. Semistructured interviews were conducted with three female cricket players and their male coach. Results suggest that the coach and players value the social leadership skills of the captain more than the task leadership skills, whereas informal athlete leaders are relied on by the captain to provide tactical guidance. Nonetheless, there were different expectations regarding the role of athlete leaders. While the coach expected athlete leaders to deliver his message to the rest of the team, players wanted athlete leaders who maintained lines of communication among the players, and with the coach. Therefore, this study offers another perspective on leadership that is fluid and promotes collaboration to appoint and develop appropriate leaders who are accepted by all team members.

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Kristy N. McLean, Clifford J. Mallett, and Peter Newcombe

The aim of this research was to develop and assess the psychometric properties of the Coach Motivation Questionnaire (CMQ). Study 1 focused on the compilation and pilot testing of potential questionnaire items. Consistent with self-determination theory, items were devised to tap into six forms of motivation: amotivation, external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, integrated regulation, and intrinsic motivation. The purpose of the second study (N = 556) was to empirically examine the psychometric properties of the CMQ. Items were subjected to confirmatory factor analyses to determine the fit of the a priori model. In addition, the validity of the questionnaire was assessed through links with the theoretically related concepts of intrinsic need satisfaction, well-being, and goal orientation. Together with test–retest reliability (Study 3), these results showed preliminary support for the psychometric properties of the CMQ. Finally, using an independent sample (N = 254), the fourth study confirmed the factor structure and supports the use of the CMQ in future coaching research.