Given the relatively little attention devoted to the study of combat sports in the sport psychology literature, the aim of this investigation was to obtain additional insight into the life and world of professional boxers, particularly with respect to their experiences of training for fights. Existential phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine professional British boxers ranging in age from 22 to 42 years. Qualitative analysis of the transcripts revealed a total of 341 meaning units, which were further grouped into higher order themes. A final thematic structure revealed six major dimensions that characterized participants’ training experience: Achieving Potential, Preparing, Sacrificing, Finding Support, Fearing, and Loving/Hating. The results offer a number of insights for sport psychology researchers and practical implications for boxers, trainers, and sport psychology consultants.
Duncan Simpson and Craig Wrisberg
Jason Youngman and Duncan Simpson
Researchers have noted that when taken to an excessive level, exercise may become addictive. This study investigated the risk of exercise addiction for triathletes using the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI; Terry, Szabo, & Griffths, 2004). The sample consisted of 1,285 male and female triathletes, ranging in age from 18–70 years old. Results indicated that approximately 20% of triathletes are at risk for exercise addiction, and that training for longer distance races (i.e., Olympic, Half-Ironman, and Ironman) puts triathletes at greater risk for exercise addiction than training for shorter races (i.e., Sprint). No significant association was found between the risk for exercise addiction and the number of years of participating. However, as the number of weekly training hours increased, so did a triathlete’s risk for exercise addiction. At-risk triathletes need greater clinical attention, and further research should be conducted to help clinicians develop awareness and appropriate interventions.
Duncan Simpson and Lauren P. Elberty
Phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine collegiate student-athletes (M = 24.11 years; SD = 3.76), from a range of sports, to explore how they experienced the unexpected death of a teammate. Qualitative analysis of interview data revealed a total of 626 meaning units which were used to produce a final thematic structure consisting of six higher order themes: Emotional Response, Behavioral Response, Faith, Social Support, Team Cohesion, and Change of Life Perspective. The results suggest that student-athletes who experience the unexpected death of a teammate go through a wide range of emotional (e.g., shock, denial) and behavioral responses (e.g., deliberate isolation from others, tributes), which ultimately changed their perspective on life. The specific nuances of these experiences offer several practical applications for sport psychology consultants, coaches, and administrators wishing to provide support to this population during such a difficult time.
Stacia Ming, Duncan Simpson and Daniel Rosenberg
Throughout the history of sport, men have played a leading role in its organization, function, purpose, and exposition (Hargreaves, 2000). Women’s sport participation has drastically risen over the past 40 years and ample new opportunities have emerged within the sport realm for women, which are attributed to a collection of incentives, but chiefly resulting from the passage of Title IX (Coakley, 2009). Women are allowed to participate in physically intense, aggressive, and violent sports, often referred to as power and performance sports (Coakley, 2014), however, the occurrence of this form of sport involvement appears to run counterintuitive to traditionally accepted societal norms. Consequently, the intent of this research was to explore how female athletes experience, interpret, accept, tolerate, and or resist the presumed contradictory role adopted through participation in power and performance sports. For the purpose of this study, existential phenomenological interviews were conducted that yielded in-depth personal accounts of the lived experience of 12 female athletes ranging in age from 21 to 50, representing a variety of power and performance sports (i.e., rugby, ice hockey, jiu-jitsu, kenpo, muay thai, kendo, boxing, and mixed martial arts). Analysis of the transcripts revealed a total of 381 meaning units that were further grouped into subthemes and major themes. This led to the development of a final thematic structure revealing four major dimensions that characterized these athletes’ experiences of power and performance sports: Physicality, Mentality, Opportunity, and Attraction & Alliance.
Duncan Simpson, Phillip G. Post, Greg Young and Peter R. Jensen
Ultramarathon (UM) running is a rapidly growing sport throughout the world, yet to date it has received little attention in sport psychology literature. To obtain further insight into this sport, the current study examined the training and competition experiences of UM runners. Phenomenological interviews were conducted with 26 participants ranging in age from 32 to 67 years (M = 44.1 yrs, SD = 8.1). Qualitative analysis of the interview data identified meaning units, which were grouped into major themes. A final thematic structure revealed five major themes that characterized the participant’s experience of UM running: preparation and strategy, management, discovery, personal achievement, and community. Taken together, the present results extend previous research on UM running and provide a number of suggestions for sport psychology consultants working with UM runners.
Craig A. Wrisberg, Lauren A. Loberg, Duncan Simpson, Jenny L. Withycombe and Ann Reed
In this study NCAA Division I coaches (n = 815) completed a Web-based survey assessing their willingness to encourage athletes to see a sport psychology consultant (SPC), their support of possible roles for a SPC at their institution and, for coaches with current access to a SPC at their institutions, their willingness to seek mental training services for a variety of purposes. The results indicated that coaches were more willing to encourage their athletes to see a SPC for performance issues than for personal concerns and were more supportive of making mental training services available to athletes and including a SPC among athletic department staff than allowing a SPC to be present at practices and competitions. Coaches with current access to a SPC were primarily interested in mental training for performance enhancement purposes and were more willing to seek the services if they had more frequent contact with the SPC and perceived the SPC to be effective. These findings extend previous research on athletes’ and coaches’ receptivity to mental training and provide several important insights for SPCs working with athletic personnel at the NCAA Division I level.
Craig Wrisberg, Jenny Lind Withycombe, Duncan Simpson, Lauren A. Loberg and Ann Reed
In the current study National Collegiate Athletic Association D-I athletic directors (n = 198) and presidents (n = 58) were asked to rate their perceptions of the benefits of various sport psychology services and their support of possible roles for a sport psychology consultant (SPC). Participants gave higher ratings for (a) services that were performance-related (e.g., dealing with pressure) than for those that were life-related (e.g., preventing burnout) and (b) a role for a SPC that involved the provision of services but not a full-time staff position or interactions with athletes at practices and competitions. Results indicated that while administrators acknowledge the potential benefits of sport psychology services, some remain reticent to employ them on a full-time basis. Future research is recommended with administrators that have employed SPCs full-time to determine their perceptions of the impact of sport psychology services on their student-athletes.
Craig A. Wrisberg, Duncan Simpson, Lauren A. Loberg, Jenny L. Withycombe and Ann Reed
In the current study NCAA Division I student-athletes (n = 2,440) completed a Web-based survey assessing their willingness to seek mental skills training, perceptions of the potential benefits of mental training for their team, and support of possible roles for a sport psychology consultant at their institution. Multiple chi-square tests revealed significant (p < .001) dependence of respondents’ ratings on gender, sport type (individual vs. team), prior experience with a sport psychology consultant, and perceived effectiveness of prior experience (low, moderate, high). Generally, females were more receptive than males, individual and team sport athletes were interested in different types of mental skills, athletes with prior consulting experience were more open than those with none, and athletes with highly effective prior experience were more receptive than those with less effective experience. These findings extend previous research examining collegiate student-athletes’ attitudes toward sport psychology consulting and provide several important insights for consultants conducting mental skills training for NCAA Division I level athletes.