The decathlon is a unique track and field event with a storied history in the annals of track and field. Yet, little has been written in the sport psychology literature about the decathlon and the experiences of its participants. The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of elite decathlon participants during their “most memorable performance.” Participants were seven decathletes who have competed at the national and international level. Each athlete had previously scored 8,000 points or more (the standard for excellence in the decathlon) in at least one competition. Because of its emphasis on the participant as the expert, phenomenological interviews were conducted with each participant and transcripts were content analyzed. Two major themes emerged from the interviews: (a) distractions and (b) coping strategies. These themes along with their corresponding subthemes are discussed in relation to other coping research in the sport psychology literature.
Gregory A. Dale
Qualitative research in sport psychology is slowly becoming more of an accepted form of inquiry, and most of this research is conducted using various interview methods. In this paper, information is provided on a paradigm that has been given little consideration in sport psychology literature. This paradigm is termed existential phenomenology, and within this paradigm a chief mode of inquiry is the phenomenological interview. With its open-ended format and similarities to the athlete-sport psychology consultant interaction in a performance enhancement intervention, it is a method that appears to offer valuable information about the participant’s experience that might otherwise go unnoticied. The basic views of existential phenomenology, including its philosophical foundations as well as instructions for conducting a phenomenological interview study, are provided. Specific discussion of the potential significance of this type of research for the field of sport psychology is offered.
Gregory A. Dale and Craig A. Wrisberg
Both experimental and anecdotal data suggest that athletes of various ages, abilities, ethnic backgrounds, and gender desire open two-way communication with their coaches (Chelladurai, 1980; Danielson, Zelhart, & Drake 1975; Hendry, 1969; Masimo, 1980). In this paper we describe how performance profiling procedures (Butler, 1989) may be used with teams to create a more open atmosphere for coach/athlete communication and to facilitate team goal setting. Specifically, a case study with a Division I women’s volleyball team is presented to illustrate the effectiveness of this procedure in profiling individual athletes, the team, and the coach. Profiles were conducted 1 week into the practice season, at the midpoint of the competitive season, and at the end of the competitive season. Significant improvements were made on one or more characteristics by each athlete, the team, and the coach. As a result of participating in this process, both the athletes and the coach agreed that there was a more open atmosphere for communication. And, the athletes expressed sincere appreciation for the increased input they had in determining the nature of their training program and their goals for competition.