The purpose of this investigation was to assess the perceptions of coaches regarding the process of goal setting using a qualitative methodology. Participants were eight male and six female high school coaches from Midwest United States representing both team and individual sports. Results revealed that coaches employed goal setting extensively for both individual and team goals in practice and competition. In addition, many interesting findings emerged including (a) coaches tended to set both long- and short-term goals; (b) coaches only inconsistently wrote down their goals; (c) goals were both dictated by coaches and set in collaboration with players; (d) the primary function of goals was to provide direction and focus; and (e) physical, psychological, and external barriers impeded goal attainment. These findings are discussed in relation to the current empirical/theoretical goal-setting literature and suggestions for best practice by sport psychology researchers are offered.
Robert Weinberg, Joanne Butt, and Betsy Knight
Joanne Butt, Robert Weinberg, and Thelma Horn
The purposes of the present investigation were twofold: (a) to investigate the fluctuations of anxiety and self-confidence throughout competition by measuring these variables retrospectively before, during, and after competition and (b) to investigate the relationship between the intensity and directional interpretation of anxiety and perceived performance across competition. Field hockey players (N = 62) completed the modified Mental Readiness Form-Likert (MRF-2) within 30 minutes after competition using the method of retrospective recall. Results indicated significant fluctuations across competition for cognitive anxiety intensity and direction, somatic anxiety intensity, and self-confidence intensity. Results also revealed that the strongest predictors of performance across both halves were self-confidence intensity and direction and cognitive anxiety direction. These findings should have important implications for practitioners and sport psychologists because anxiety measurement and confidence are critical parts of most psychological skills training programs.
Liam A. Slack, Ian W. Maynard, Joanne Butt, and Peter Olusoga
The present study evaluated the effectiveness of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Program (MTETP) in elite football officiating. The MTETP consisted of four individual and two group-based workshops designed to develop mental toughness (MT) and enhance performance in three English Football League (EFL) referees. Adopting a single-subject, multiple-baseline-across-participants design, MT and referee-assessor reports were evaluated. Self and coach-ratings of MT highlighted an instant and continued improvement in all three referees during the intervention phases. Performance reports of all referees improved throughout the intervention phases compared with the baseline phase. Social validation data indicated that an array of strategies within the MTETP facilitated MT development. Discussions acknowledge theoretical and practical implications relating to the continued progression of MT interventions in elite sport.
Rachel Cholerton, Helen Quirk, Jeff Breckon, and Joanne Butt
Adults aged 55+ years are most likely to be inactive, despite research suggesting that older adults experience multiple benefits when participating in physical activity and sport. Limited research focuses on long-term continuation of sport participation in this population, especially in “adapted sports” like walking football. This study explored the experiences of walking football maintenance in 55- to 75-year-old players. Semistructured interviews were conducted, with 17 older adults maintaining walking football play over 6 months. The inductive analysis revealed five higher-order themes representing maintenance influences and two higher-order themes relating to maintenance mechanisms (i.e., the conscious process by which players maintain). Influences when maintaining walking football included individual- and culture-level influences (e.g., perceived benefits of maintenance and ability acceptance). Maintenance mechanisms included cognitions and behaviors (e.g., scheduling sessions and redefining physical activity expectations). Findings highlight novel implications for policy and practice, which are important to consider when delivering walking football to older adults.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
The purpose of this study was to explore how sport and exercise psychologists working in sport understand and use motivational interviewing (MI). Eleven practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and inductive thematic analysis identified themes linked to explicit use of MI, such as building engagement and exploring ambivalence to change; the value of MI, such as enhancing the relationship, rolling with resistance and integrating with other approaches; and barriers to the implementation of MI in sport psychology, such as a limited evidence-base in sport. Findings also indicated considerable implicit use of MI by participants, including taking an athlete-centered approach, supporting athlete autonomy, reflective listening, demonstrating accurate empathy, and taking a nonprescriptive, guiding role. This counseling style appears to have several tenets to enhance current practice in sport psychology, not least the enhancement of therapeutic alliance.
Rachel Cholerton, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Helen Quirk
Adults aged 55 and older are least likely to play sport. Despite research suggesting this population experiences physical and psychological benefits when doing so, limited research focuses on older adult sport initiation, especially in “adapted sports” such as walking football. The aim of this study was to explore initiation experiences of walking football players between 55 and 75 years old. Semistructured interviews took place with 17 older adults playing walking football for 6 months minimum (M age = 64). Inductive analysis revealed six higher order themes representing preinitiation influences. Eight further higher order themes were found, relating to positive and negative experiences during initiation. Fundamental influences preinitiation included previous sporting experiences and values and perceptions. Emergent positive experiences during initiation included mental development and social connections. Findings highlight important individual and social influences when initiating walking football, which should be considered when encouraging 55- to 75-year-old adults to play adapted sport. Policy and practice recommendations are discussed.
Mike Stoker, Ian Maynard, Joanne Butt, Kate Hays, and Paul Hughes
In previous research, multiple demands and consequences were manipulated simultaneously to examine methods for pressure training. Building on literature, in this study a single demand or consequence stressor was manipulated in isolation. Specifically, in a matched within-subject design, 6 international shooters (mean age 28.67 yr) performed a shooting task while exposed to a single demand (task, performer, environmental) or consequence (reward, forfeit, judgment) stressor. Perceived pressure, anxiety (intensity and direction), and performance were measured. Compared with baseline, manipulating demands did not affect pressure or anxiety. In contrast, pressure and cognitive anxiety significantly increased when judgment or forfeit consequence stressors were introduced. Thus, the findings lack support for manipulating demands but strongly support introducing consequences when pressure training. Compared with baseline, the judgment stressor also created debilitative anxiety. Hence, in terms of introducing a single stressor, judgment appeared most impactful and may be most effective for certain athlete populations.
Rory Mack, Jeff Breckon, Joanne Butt, and Ian Maynard
This study explored the use of motivational interviewing (MI) in sport contexts by experts in that approach. Specifically, the purpose was to understand which aspects of the MI approach are deemed valuable for working in sport and to begin to understand how these aspects are best applied. Nine practitioners participated in semistructured interviews, and thematic analysis identified themes related to core and subcomponents of MI (e.g., relational spirit, technical microskills, applied tools, and the MI communication styles continuum). Additional themes relate to integrating MI with other interventions, the challenges of working with athletes (e.g., mandated attendance, ambivalence about change), and unique aspects of working in sport contexts (e.g., frequency, duration, and location of contact points). The participants also outlined essential ingredients for an MI training curriculum for practitioners in sport. This counseling approach appears to have valuable relational and technical components to facilitate the building of the therapeutic alliance, enhance athlete readiness for change, and support delivery of action-oriented interventions in applied sport psychology.
Andrew Mills, Joanne Butt, Ian Maynard, and Chris Harwood
This study examined the factors perceived by successful coaches to underpin optimal development environments within elite English soccer academies. A semistructured interview guide was developed to interview 10 expert coaches about the environments they create for players at a key stage in their development. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and inductively content analyzed. The results identified a wide range of factors resulting in a conceptual framework that explained how these factors interact to underpin an optimal environment. Subcomponents of this framework included organizational core (e.g., advocate a player-driven ideology), adaptability (e.g., embrace novel ideas & approaches), player welfare (e.g., understand players’ world-view), key stakeholder relationships (e.g., build trust with parents), involvement (e.g., encourage players’ ideas/feedback), and achievement oriented (e.g., establish an explicit pathway to senior level). Collectively, the findings highlight the importance of establishing strong, dynamic, organizational cultures at elite youth soccer academies. Ways that academies might be helped to establish such environments are discussed.
Kate Hays, Owen Thomas, Ian Maynard, and Joanne Butt
This study examined the applicability of confidence profiling to the development of an individualized intervention designed in accordance with Murphy and Murphy’s (1992) eight step cognitive-behavioral model. The case study design illustrated the potential uses and benefits of confidence profiling when developing an athlete driven intervention to enhance the sport confidence of a female swimmer. Specifically, it showed how confidence profiling can act as an applied measure to accurately assess sport confidence from the athlete’s own perspective, provide the basis of an intervention targeted toward the athlete’s individual confidence needs, and provide feedback to the sport psychologist concerning the effectiveness of the intervention. A postintervention interview with the athlete highlighted the usefulness of the confidence profiling process. Specifically, the profiling process helped to raise the athlete’s awareness of the factors that facilitated and debilitated her sport confidence. Furthermore, the athlete reported feeling more confident and very satisfied with the mental skills training, which she perceived resulted in performance gains.