We examined whether basketball throwing performance in general and motor skill specificity from the free throw distance in particular are influenced by visual contextual information. Experienced basketball players (N = 36) performed basketball set shots at five distances from the basket. Of particular interest was the performance from the free throw distance (4.23 m), at which experienced basketball players are expected to show superior performance compared with nearby locations as a result of massive amounts of practice. Whereas a control group performed the shots on a regular basketball court, the distance between the rim and the free throw line was either increased or decreased by 30 cm in two experimental groups. Findings showed that only the control group had a superior performance from the free throw distance, and the experimental groups did not. Moreover, all groups performed more accurately from the perceived free throw line (independent of its location) compared with nearby locations. The findings suggest that visual context information influences the presence of specificity effects in experienced performers. The findings have theoretical implications for explaining the memory representation underlying the especial skill effect in basketball.
Tino Stöckel and Gavin Breslin
Stephen Shannon, Garry Prentice, and Gavin Breslin
Basic psychological needs theory is limited by variable-centered studies focused on linear relationships between perceived needs-supportive/controlling coach behaviors. Therefore, latent profile analysis was used to determine if heterogenous profiles emerged from the interactive effects of needs-supportive and -controlling coach behaviors and the subsequent association with sport-specific mental health outcomes (i.e., burnout and subjective vitality). A total of 685 athletes took part (age = 23.39 years, male = 71%), and the latent profile analysis revealed five novel, diverse profiles, labeled as “supportive-developmental,” “needs-indifferent,” “overly critical,” “harsh-controlling,” and “distant-controlling” coaches. The profiles predicted significant mental health variance (adjusted R 2 = .15–.24), wherein the “supportive-developmental” profile scored most favorably on 90% of the outcomes. The largest mean differences were observed against the “harsh-controlling” (n = 5), “overly critical” (n = 3), and “distant controlling” (n = 2) profiles. Overall, latent profile analysis revealed substantial nuance in athletes’ social contexts, predicting variance in mental health. Needs-supportive interventions are needed for “overly critical,” “harsh controlling,” and “distant controlling” athlete profiles.
Gavin Breslin, Diana Gossrau-Breen, Naomi McCay, Gillian Gilmore, Lindsay MacDonald, and Donncha Hanna
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between physical activity and wellbeing in children, and to further explore the extent to which this may vary by gender and weight status.
A representative sample of 1424 9- to 11-year-olds completed a self-report measure of physical activity, the Child Health and Illness Profile, KIDSCREEN, and a self-esteem scale. Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements were also obtained.
24% of children achieved the recommended level of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) per day, with more boys than girls achieving this level. Children achieving the recommended level of MVPA scored significantly higher on measures of the Child Health and Illness Profile (F(5, 1354) = 5.03; P < .001), KIDSCREEN (F(3, 1298) = 4.68; P = .003), and self-esteem (F(1, 1271) = 18.73; P = .003) than less active children although the effect sizes were small (ηp 2 ≈ .01). Substantial gender differences in wellbeing were found reflecting gender specific behaviors and socialization. Weight status had negligible influence on wellbeing.
Children who meet the recommended guidelines of MVPA were more likely to have better wellbeing. When attempting to raise children’s physical activity levels consideration should be given to the specific relationships between wellbeing and physical activity.
Hugh Gilmore, Stephen Shannon, Gerard Leavey, Martin Dempster, Shane Gallagher, and Gavin Breslin
Recreational athletes comprise the most prevalent population using illegal Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS). Despite regulatory efforts, substances are widely accessible, and most users report the experience of harmful side effects. It remains unclear why few users seek professional medical help. The aim of this study was to determine AAS users’ experience of side effects and help-seeking beliefs using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of six interviews. Participants were from the United Kingdom (n = 5) and United States (n = 1), had all experienced side effects, with some reporting prolonged use of AAS (>10 years) and self-manufacturing the drugs from raw ingredients. Results showed that AAS users discredit medical professionals’ competencies, and practice cognitive dissonance by avoiding challenging situations. A microculture for information-sharing has developed among AAS users who initially self-treat to counteract side effects, leaving them vulnerable to further harm. To conclude, there is an urgent need for educational interventions that outline the risky practice of unregulated AAS use and self-treatments, and the need to seek professional help. Such interventions could be developed through a co-production basis, and be implemented by current/former AAS users alongside the medical community.
Gavin Breslin, Tandy Haughey, Wesley O’Brien, Laura Caulfield, Alexa Robertson, and Martin Lawlor
The present study had three aims, to determine: (a) whether providing a curriculum-based mental health awareness program to athletes increased knowledge of mental health and intentions to offer support; (b) whether the program increased resilience and well-being compared to a control group; and (c) the feasibility of the program. A total of 100 participants (M age = 20.78; SD = 2.91; male = 59) either attended the program or were part of a control group. Participants completed questionnaires pre-, post-, and 3-months post-intervention, although there was a low participant return rate for the 3-month follow-up (n = 15). Participants were invited to take part in a focus group to explore program relevance. Knowledge of mental health and intentions to offer support increased for the intervention group, compared to the control. The program with some modification could be integrated into university sport courses to promote mental health awareness.
Gavin Breslin, Stephen Shannon, Kyle Ferguson, Shauna Devlin, Tandy Haughey, and Garry Prentice
Recent evidence suggests that attempts to tackle mental health stigma in athletes should include psychological theory to understand the competitive sport environment. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the aim was to determine what demographic and psychological factors predicted mental health stigma among athletes. Athletes (n = 471) completed a questionnaire, and a multiple linear regression analyses was conducted, specifying demographic (e.g., gender), psychological (e.g., norms) and moderating variables (e.g., sport type) as predictors of stigma-related intentions to socialise with individuals who are living with a mental health condition. TRA models explained a significant amount of variance for intentions, in which knowledge about and exposure to individuals with mental health conditions significantly predicted better intentions. Further, athletes competing in team sports, particularly females, had stronger intentions. This was the first study to explore mental health stigma using the TRA. Findings can inform the development of mental health awareness programs for athletes.
Tanya McGuane, Stephen Shannon, Lee-Ann Sharp, Martin Dempster, and Gavin Breslin
Horse racing requires jockeys to weigh in prior to each competition, with failure automatically excluding the jockey from competition. As such, many jockeys frequently employ long- and short-term “wasting” weight-loss techniques that can be harmful to health. This study aimed to explore jockeys’ social norms and experiences regarding wasting and the effects of wasting on their mental health. Six professional jockeys with a minimum of 2 years professional riding experience were recruited from a range of stud-racing yards in Ireland. From individual participant interviews, an interpretative-phenomenological-analysis approach revealed four themes: “Day in, day out,” “Horse racing is my life,” “You just do what you have to do,” and “This is our world.” Themes were interpreted through social-identity theory, which highlighted how wasting is an acceptable in-group norm among jockeys, irrespective of relationship problems and mental health consequences. Recommendations are offered for intervening to support jockeys’ mental health.
Sarahjane Belton, Gavin Breslin, Stephen Shannon, Wesley O’Brien, Ben Fitzpatrick, Tandy Haughey, Fiona Chambers, Danielle Powell, Darryl McCullagh, and Deirdre Brennan
Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate daily physical activity (PA) patterns of 8- to 9-year-old Irish children from socially disadvantaged areas. Methods: Children (N = 408) were asked to wear an ActiGraph accelerometer for a minimum of 4 days. Based on mean daily moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA accumulation, participants were grouped into sex-specific quartiles (Q4, most active; Q1, least active). Principal component analysis was used to identify distinct time blocks for weekdays and weekend days. Results: Overall, 213 participants (8.7 [0.5] y) met accelerometer inclusion criteria. Of these, 56.7% met the 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA per day guidelines, with males statistically significantly more likely to do so than females (P < .01). Principal component analysis revealed 3 distinct time periods on weekdays and 4 distinct periods on weekends that children were active. The total difference in moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA accumulation between Q4 (most active) and Q1 (least active) was greatest in the after-school time period (male: 49 min and female: 33 min) on weekdays and in the evening time period on weekends (male: 33 min and female: 19 min). Conclusions: After-school and weekend evenings are critical “activity rich” time periods in terms of the gap between our most and least active disadvantaged children.