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Paul Garner and Denise M. Hill

Given the enduring focus of coach education on the development of professional knowledge (e.g., technique, strategy, and tactics), the current study aimed to explore how a Community of Practice (CoP) impacted coach development of interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge. Côté and Gilbert’s (2009) definition of coaching expertise was used as a model to observe learning in a community of practice (CoP; Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002). A total of eight internationally qualified ski coaches (aged 27–44 years) took part in weekly meetings over a period of six weeks, with the lead researcher cultivating a CoP and ensuring coaching issues were the focus of discussion. Meetings were audio-recorded and the data transcribed and analysed thematically. Results revealed that coaches developed both interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge through enhanced emotional intelligence, gaining an athlete-centred approach, storytelling, group reflection and changing role frames. The findings are positioned within the extant literature, with implication for coach education practice identified.

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Denise M. Hill, Nic Matthews and Ruth Senior

This study used qualitative methods to explore the stressors, appraisal mechanism, emotional response, and effective/ineffective coping strategies experienced by elite rugby union referees during pressurized performances. Participants included seven male rugby union referees from the United Kingdom (Mage = 27.85, SD = 4.56) who had been officiating as full-time professionals for between 1 and 16 years (M = 4.85, SD = 5.42). Data revealed that the referees encountered a number of stressors, which were appraised initially as a ‘threat’, and elicited negatively-toned emotions. The referees were able to maintain performance standards under pressure by adopting proactive, problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies which managed effectively the stressors and their emotions. However, the use of avoidance-coping, reactive control, and informal impression management were perceived as ineffective coping strategies, and associated with poor performance and choking. Recommendations are offered to inform the psychological skills training of rugby union referees.

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Denise M. Hill, Sheldon Hanton, Nic Matthews and Scott Fleming

This study explores the antecedents, mechanisms, influencing variables, and consequences of choking in sport and identifies interventions that may alleviate choking. Through the use of qualitative methods, the experiences of six elite golfers who choked frequently under pressure were examined and compared with five elite golfers who excelled frequently under pressure. The perspectives of four coaches who had worked extensively with elite golfers who had choked and excelled, were also considered. The study indicated that the participants choked as a result of distraction, which was caused by various stressors. Self-confidence, preparation, and perfectionism were identified as key influencing variables of the participants’ choking episodes, and the consequence of choking was a significant drop in performance that affected negatively future performances. Process goals, cognitive restructuring, imagery, simulated training, and a pre/postshot routine were perceived as interventions that may possibly prevent choking.

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Denise M. Hill, Sheldon Hanton, Nic Matthews and Scott Fleming

The study examined the effect of an evidence-based intervention on choking in golf. It is informed by the work of Hill, Hanton, Matthews and Fleming (2010a) that explored the experiences of elite golfers who either choked or excelled under pressure. The perceptions of elite golf coaches who worked with both ‘chokers’ and those who excelled, were also considered. It revealed that choking may be alleviated through the use of process goals, cognitive restructuring, imagery, simulated training and a pre/postshot routine. The present study incorporated each strategy into an intervention that was introduced to two professional golfers (aged 22) who choked under pressure regularly. Through an action research framework the impact of the intervention was evaluated over a ten month period via qualitative methods. The results indicated the intervention alleviated the participants’ choking episodes and so provides information that can be of use to practitioners working with golfers who choke.

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Denise M. Hill, Matthew Cheesbrough, Paul Gorczynski and Nic Matthews

Through an empirical phenomenological methodology, the study examined the short- and long-term consequences of choking in sport. Eleven intermediate golfers (10 male, 1 female; age 23–50 years, M = 34.6, SD = 8.9) with handicaps of 6–18 (M = 10.91, SD = 3.98) completed phenomenological interviews that explored the perceived psychological impact of their choking episode(s). While the reported short-term consequences were negative (i.e., collapse in performance standards, limited attention/emotional control, and negative affect), most participants thought the long-term impact of choking was constructive, for it encouraged adversity-related growth. However, a small number of golfers identified the long-term consequences as highly destructive, including a loss of self-confidence, withdrawal from the sport, and, in 1 case, lowered self-worth. The findings of the study extend the choking literature by informing strategies that can be used to encourage constructive, rather than destructive, consequences from any choking episode that athletes may experience.