This article discusses the development of mental skills training for professional baseball players and coaches. The basic educational model involves providing information, skills practice, and support for the athlete who wants to improve his mental game. The basic philosophy employed is an experiential process that facilitates the athlete’s understanding of mental skills training. Over time, skills are refined and adapted to meet the athlete’s unique needs. The practicing sportpsych consultant must follow a number of operating standards to ensure the trust and respect of both players and management. The most difficult step is getting the commitment from a professional team. This article discusses an approach to making contact, guidelines followed for developing a mental training program for a professional baseball team, and some technical aspects to consider in developing a mental training program. It focuses on the range of services provided to players and coaches in group formats and on an individual basis, both at the major league and minor league levels. Finally, there is a discussion of problems inherent in working with players, coaches, and management and how to cope with them.
Consulting issues that confront applied sport psychology personnel in gaining entry to working with athletic teams on a long-term basis are discussed. Barriers to entry are examined at the onset and it is emphasized that these obstacles must be overcome by all consultants. Strategies for overcoming such barriers include establishing respect and trust of key athletic personnel, gaining the head coach’s respect, knowing the sport, becoming knowledgeable of the coach’s orientation and team dynamics, gaining support at all levels of the organization, clarifying services to be provided, and making presentations to coaching staffs and athletes. Additional guidelines are discussed in an effort to better clarify the role of the applied sport psychology consultant. These include clarifying one’s own consulting needs, maintaining confidentiality, the need for open and honest communication, support demonstrated by coaches, and collecting research data while consulting.
Kenneth Ravizza and Thomas Osborne
Described is a preperformance cognitive-behavioral routine that was developed for the University of Nebraska football team. The routine is based on the premise that to perform effectively, football players must focus on one play at a time by exhibiting self-control and taking responsibility for optimal performance. The resulting 3-step “ready, respond, and refocus” routine emphasized that the play begins with the “ready” signal in the huddle, is followed by the play or “respond” component, and ends with a whistle. The time period from the end of one play to the beginning of the next is the athlete’s time to “refocus,” process, and mentally let go of the previous play. Examples of the “ready, respond, and refocus” routine are given and ways of implementing and teaching it are discussed.
Angela Fifer, Keith Henschen, Daniel Gould and Kenneth Ravizza
A highly effective method for disseminating knowledge is to observe the most experienced individuals in the field of interest. Although business, teaching, and coaching have been mentoring and apprenticing students for years, the field of applied sport psychology does not have a long formal history of doing so. The purpose of this article is to capture and present the thoughts, theories, and techniques employed by highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants to formally record what they believe “works when working with athletes.” General topics discussed include: gaining entry, techniques of assessment, delivery of information, and approaches for preparing athletes for “major competitions.” Common ideas and practical guidelines are summarized from the authors and discussed in light of current scientific and professional practice knowledge in the field. These consultants do not claim they have all the answers, but rather share their experiences in hopes of providing ideas and facilitating self-reflection concerning consulting effectiveness on the part of the reader.
Tara K. Scanlan, Gary L. Stein and Kenneth Ravizza
This study examined the sources of stress in elite figure skaters. Twenty-six former national-championship competitors were interviewed to identify their stressors during the most competitive phase of their athletic careers. The interviews consisted of open-ended and follow-up questions that provided an in-depth understanding of the athletes' sources of stress. Inductive content-analysis procedures established stress categories derived from the athletes' perspective. Five major sources of stress emerged from the data—negative aspects of competition, negative significant-other relationships, demands or costs of skating, personal straggles, and traumatic experiences. The results demonstrate that (a) elite athletes experience stress from both competition and noncompetition sources, (b) individual differences exist among elite athletes' sources of stress, and (c) elite and youth sport athletes have similar competition-related stressors.
Tara K. Scanlan, Gary L. Stein and Kenneth Ravizza
This study investigated the sources of sport enjoyment for elite figure skaters. These elite athletes were 26 former national championship competitors who currently coach figure skating. The skaters were interviewed and answered an open-ended question asking them for their sources of enjoyment during the most competitive phase of their skating careers. Each source of enjoyment mentioned was probed to obtain an in-depth understanding of the source. The data, 418 quotes, were drawn from verbatim transcriptions of the interviews and were inductively content analyzed. Content analysis organizes the quotes into increasingly more complex themes and categories representing sources of enjoyment. Four major sources of enjoyment emerged from the data—social and life opportunities, perceived competence, social recognition of competence, and the act of skating. The findings (a) demonstrated that elite figure skaters derive enjoyment from numerous and diverse sources reflecting the achievement, social, and movement aspects of sport, (b) provided greater depth of understanding for new and previously indicated sources of enjoyment, and (c) uncovered new psychological constructs.
Tara K. Scanlan, Kenneth Ravizza and Gary L. Stein
This article introduces a project focused on the sources of sport enjoyment and stress, and the role that significant others have in these experiences. These issues were studied in depth using primarily qualitative interview techniques that were then complemented by quantitative assessments. Study participants were 26 former elite figure skaters who had competed at the national level and were currently coaching. The interviews lasted an average of 2 1/2 hours and yielded over 1,000 transcribed pages. The purpose of this manuscript is to provide an underlying coherency to a series of articles through which this wealth of information will be presented. Information common to all articles and the methodological framework to the entire project are discussed. Details about the talented individuals studied, including descriptive data regarding their development of commitment to their sport, are presented. Consistent with research concerning other talent domains (Bloom, 1985), the findings show a progression from initial casual involvement to intense dedication.