The number of studies examining eating disorders and body image in sport has increased, although several major challenges associated with conducting this research must be addressed to continue growth. In this paper, we describe these challenges based on our professional experiences and the academic literature. Mistrust of researchers and the area of study, communication gaps, and factors that affect data quality are among the strong barriers discussed. However, we suggest that these challenges may be addressed by building stronger partnerships between researchers and practitioners and offer critical steps for developing meaningful professional relationships that will help move the field forward.
Researching Eating Disorders and Body Image in Sport: Challenges and Recommendations
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
An Inductive Thematic Analysis of Male Competitive Figure Skaters’ Experiences of Weight Pressure in Sport
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to examine male competitive figure skaters’ experiences of weight pressure in sport. Specifically, male skaters’ perceptions of the ideal skating body, sources of weight pressure in elite figure skating, and the perceived role of their sport in shaping body image, athletic performance, eating, and exercise behaviors were explored. Through a social constructivist lens, an inductive thematic analysis was used to examine the contextual influences of the skating environment. Thirteen male figure skaters ages 16–24 (M = 18.53, SD = 3.33) with an average 10.38 years of skating experience (SD = 4.05) were interviewed. Skaters identified the parameters for the ideal body in skating along with specific weight pressures, body image concerns, and weight management strategies. Similar to female skaters, male skaters perceived that body image affected psychological factors that influence sport performance. Sport psychologists and consultants should be attentive to the skating environment and how specific performance and appearance demands may influence an athlete’s mindset.
An Inductive Thematic Analysis of Female Competitive Figure Skaters’ Experiences of Weight Pressure in Sport
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
In this study, the authors examined female competitive figure skaters’ experiences of weight pressure in sport. Perceptions of the ideal skating body; sources of weight pressure; ways that body image, weight-management behaviors, and athletic performance have been affected; and recommendations for improving body image were explored. Aligning with a social constructivist view (Creswell, 2014), data were analyzed using an inductive thematic approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Skaters described the ideal skating body in an inflexible fashion with little room for deviation and acceptance of body diversity. Skaters cited their first weightpressure experience between 7 and 14 years of age, which most notably involved coaches, parents, skating partners, and other aspects of the skating culture. These experiences were characterized as promoting body-image concerns, unhealthy weight-management strategies, and interference with the psychological aspects of on-ice performance. Results from this study demonstrate the need to construct and maintain body-positive skating environments.
“It’s Just a Lot Different Being Male Than Female in the Sport”: An Exploration of the Gendered Culture Around Body Pressures in Competitive Figure Skating
Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel
Figure skaters experience pressure associated with their sport to change their body weight, shape, or size to meet appearance and performance expectations. Figure skaters may experience different body-related expectations based on gender despite performing in identical or similar training and competition environments. In a qualitative investigation that examined body pressure experiences of male skaters, participants discussed some of their struggles, but seemed compelled to discuss, unexpectedly, the plight of female skaters in facing the skating body ideal. The present findings represent an exploratory analysis of qualitative data elucidating the body pressure experiences of female skaters through the eyes of male skaters. Participants were 13 competitive male figure skaters ages 16–24 (M = 18.53). Analyzed using a social constructivist and critical perspective, the results demonstrated the salience of body pressures for female skaters and afforded insight into sociocultural and historical factors that influence how male and female skaters experience their bodies differently in a skating context. Male skaters reported they faced less extreme body pressures, had certain physical advantages, and tended to be more confident than female skaters, which underscored a gendered body pressure experience. This work explores the intersections of gender and power within figure skating and examines body image concerns and unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors as a larger social justice issue that serves to encourage similar investigations in other sports.
Best Coaching Practices for Developing Team Captains
Daniel Gould, Dana K. Voelker, and Katherine Griffes
To gain an in depth understanding of the youth leadership development process in sport, qualitative interviews were conducted with high school coaches (6 males; 4 females) known for cultivating leadership in their captains. Hierarchical content analyses revealed that all of the coaches reported proactive approaches toward teaching leadership through sport. However, based on the principles noted in the positive youth development literature, these coaches could do more to enhance their leadership development practices (e.g., empowering captains by more often involving them in important decision-making). Leadership philosophies, specific leadership training strategies, as well as the biggest challenges and mistakes when working with their captains are reported. Directions for future research and structuring captain training programs are discussed.
Understanding the Experience of High School Sport Captains
Dana K. Voelker, Dan Gould, and Michael J. Crawford
The purpose of this study was to gain a thorough understanding of the high school sport captaincy experience. Thirteen university freshmen (7 males, 6 females) who were high school sport captains the previous year participated in 60—90 min semistructured interviews. Hierarchical content analysis of the data revealed that the majority of participants believed that their captainship experience was positive, but also cited difficult aspects such as having responsibility/being held accountable, being scrutinized/meeting expectations, and staying neutral in conflict situations. The majority of captains also reported receiving little to no training from coaches for their captaincy role and indicated that they learned to lead largely from previous life experiences, such as by observing significant others and learning through trial and error. Results on perceived roles and duties, perceived effectiveness, attitudes toward formal leadership training, and recommendations for future captains are also provided. Implications for designing youth sport leadership development interventions and advancing research on youth leadership are discussed.
Validation of the Intuitive Exercise Scale in Patients With Eating Disorders
Dana K. Voelker, Nick Galli, Maya Miyairi, Justine J. Reel, and Karley James
Unhealthy cognitive–emotional relationships with exercise can hinder positive treatment outcomes when left unaddressed. However, clinicians lack validated tools to monitor this aspect of treatment. This study examined the 14-item Intuitive Exercise Scale with 165 patients in the United States (M age = 26.48 years) who were receiving treatment for an eating disorder. The original factor structure was inadequate for the current sample, and exploratory factor analysis generated three factors—emotional exercise, body intuition, and exercise variety. The three-factor solution yielded strong internal consistency and partial support for the scale’s validity. Furthermore, patients scored lowest in body intuition, confirming low awareness of bodily cues common in patients with eating disorders. This study informs how clinicians may integrate and monitor patients’ cognitive–emotional relationship with exercise as part of holistic and intuitive eating disorder treatment approaches.
Injury and Disordered Eating Behaviors: What is the Connection for Female Professional Dancers?
Justine J. Reel, Leslie Podlog, Lindsey Hamilton, Lindsey Greviskes, Dana K. Voelker, and Cara Gray
Dancers, like athletes, frequently endure injuries and disordered eating as a result of performance-specific demands. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between severe injuries and disordered eating from the perspectives of female professional dancers. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 female professional dancers ages 18–38 (M = 23; SD = 6.2) whose dance participation was suspended for 4–36 weeks (M = 12.69; SD = 10.09) due to a dance-related injury. We adopted a social constructivist stance to view the experiences of dancers through the lens of a phenomenon highly influenced by environmental and cultural factors. A thematic analysis yielded five themes including negative emotions associated with injury, anxiety and uncertainty around future involvement, modifications in nutritional intake (e.g., reduction of calories), coping with injury, and the need for an effective and holistic injury rehabilitation program.
Kinesiology Faculty Reflections on COVID-19 and Future Directions in Online Education
Kayla Baker, Melissa Bopp, Sean M. Bulger, YuChun Chen, Michele L. Duffey, Brian Myers, Dana K. Voelker, and Kaylee F. Woodard
The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an unprecedented disruptor on college and university campuses as stakeholders at all organizational levels were challenged to consider new approaches to teaching and learning using online course modalities with very limited preparation time and faculty support. Using a case study approach, this paper reviews valuable lessons learned through the experience, particularly regarding shifts in course delivery to include online and hybrid modalities on a widespread scale. Specifically, the authors reviewed the processes, outcomes, and student perceptions associated with online and hybrid course delivery in various kinesiology courses at three different higher education institutions. The paper also offers useful perspectives for kinesiology program administrators and faculty who are contemplating the continued application of online and hybrid course formats in greater capacity postpandemic.