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Reflections on a Long-Term Consultancy Relationship: Challenging the Beliefs of an Elite Golfer

John Pates and Kieran Kingston

This case study is a reflective account of a consultation with a (then) 37-year-old male professional golfer and former Ryder Cup player who had lost his status on the European golf tour and was working outside of the sport in order to make a living. Needs analysis suggested that the client had poor performances, low self-confidence, and dysfunctional beliefs (e.g., “My swing is not good enough”). An eclectic philosophical approach was adopted to address these issues (e.g., strength-based training, overlearning, hypnosis, promoting an external focus of attention, cognitive restructuring, and a clutch-based visualization). The effectiveness of the interventions was determined by the player’s performance and his underlying emotions and beliefs. The client provided social validation for the consultation approach. The interventions in this case study elevated positive emotions (e.g., confidence and optimism), changed dysfunction beliefs (e.g., “I am always a bridesmaid”), and enhanced performance (winning major championships). The case study illustrates a protracted engagement with a client and the evolution of a professional relationship. The case is discussed in light of a self-fulfilling-prophecy effect and a consultancy that targets the conscious and unconscious mind of an elite golfer. Recommendations are offered for consultants working with elite golfers.

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Consultancy Under Pressure: Intervening in the “Here and Now” With an Elite Golfer

John Pates and Kieran Kingston

This case study is a reflective account of a consultation with a 30-year-old male professional golfer. The approach by the player was made on the evening prior to the final round of a European Tour event, needing a top-20 finish on the final day of the tournament year. Failure to achieve this objective would have resulted in forfeiting of his playing privileges on the PGA European Tour for the following season, with the associated loss of income and, in this case, genuine threats to his livelihood. The consultant used a number of interventions (e.g., best-performance imagery, external focus of attention, hypnosis, and music) and an approach established in humanistic, phenomenological, and transpersonal psychology. Effectiveness was determined by performance and the player’s descriptions of his transcendental experience. The client provided social validation for the consultation approach and the intervention through his reflections. The intervention in this case appeared to elevate positive emotions and trigger a transcendental precursor to peak performance. While this type of intervention may provide immediate performance benefits for golfers experiencing low self-confidence, the case study also illustrates how consultants are often asked to support athletes under severe time constraints.

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Effects of Different Types of Goals on Processes That Support Performance

Kieran M. Kingston and Lew Hardy

Empirical studies attesting to the effectiveness of goal setting in sport have been plagued by equivocation. Inconsistencies may relate to task/goal complexity and the types of goals that participants are asked to use (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996). This study addresses the second of these issues by examining the relative efficacy of two types of goal-setting training program that differ according to their primary focus. Thirty-seven club golfers completed the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 on three occasions at important competitions and the Sport Psychology Skills Questionnaire prior to, and following, the intervention. Two-factor (Group × Test) ANOVAs revealed a significant interaction (p < .05) for ability, indicating significant improvements from Test 1 to Test 2 for the process-oriented group, and between Test 1 and Test 3. The significant interactions (p < .05) for self-efficacy, cognitive anxiety control, and concentration provide further evidence for the positive impact of process goals in competitive situations.

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Case Studies From Elite Youth Soccer: Reflections on Talent Development Practices

Daniel Wixey, Knud Ryom, and Kieran Kingston

With early specialisation being commonplace within elite youth soccer, knowledge of the psychosocial implications associated with talent development practices would be of considerable use for the coaching practitioner. This paper uses case studies as a platform to discuss potential psychosocial implications of early specialisation, and further, it also offers practical suggestions for the elite youth soccer coach. Three case studies were chosen; each is an account of observations that took place within a British soccer academy. Themes of the case studies included adult-led structures in early specialisation, awareness of need thwarting coach behaviours, and the retention or release of players. The case studies were deliberately chosen to prompt discussion, reflection, and action. Following the presentation of each case study, a theoretically driven discussion is formulated. Practical suggestions are then provided to assist in the management of talent development practices within elite youth soccer and to further enrich the experiences of players. Concluding thoughts and areas for future research are briefly discussed.

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A Temporal Examination of Elite Performers Sources of Sport-Confidence

Kieran Kingston, Andrew Lane, and Owen Thomas

This study examined temporal changes in sources of sport-confidence during the build up to an important competition. Elite individual athletes (N = 54) completed the Sources of Sport-Confidence Questionnaire (SSCQ) at five precompetition phases (6 weeks, 4 weeks, 3 weeks, 2 weeks and 1 week before competition). A two-factor (gender x time-to-competition) MANOVA revealed no significant interactions, but highlighted both time-to-competition and gender main effects. Time-to-competition main effects indicated the importance placed upon demonstration of ability, physical/mental preparation, physical self-presentation and situational favorableness sources of sport-confidence changed during the precompetition phase. Gender main effects revealed that female athletes demonstrated a significantly greater reliance on sources associated with mastery, physical self-presentation, social support, environmental comfort and coach’s leadership than male athletes. These findings emphasize the benefit of considering sources of sport-confidence as competition approaches; they may have implications for the design and timing of confidence based interventions.

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The Relationship Between Passion, Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Athlete Burnout: Examining Direct and Indirect Effects

Sofie Kent, Kieran Kingston, and Kyle F. Paradis

Athlete burnout symptoms are detrimental to athlete well-being. Obsessive passion has been identified as an antecedent of athlete burnout, with basic psychological need satisfaction potentially mediating this process. The aim of the current research was to extend on previous work and examine whether the relationship between passion and athlete burnout was mediated by psychological need satisfaction in a heterogeneous sample. Participants were 120 competitive athletes (M age = 22.04, SD = 5.83) from 21 different sports. Each participant completed the Passion Scale, Basic Psychological Needs in Sport Scale, and the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire. Multiple regression and bootstrapping procedures were used to analyze the data. Passion (harmonious and obsessive) was found to share a significant relationship with sport devaluation but shared no significant relationship with emotional and physical exhaustion and reduced sense of accomplishment. Bootstrapping results suggested that the basic psychological need of autonomy was the only significant mediating variable in the relationship between passion (harmonious and obsessive) and burnout (sport devaluation). Potential antecedents and consequences of athlete burnout, alongside applied and conceptual implications are discussed.

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A Qualitative Analysis of Catastrophic Performances and the Associated Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions

Tara Edwards, Lew Hardy, Kieran Kingston, and Dan Gould

Structured in-depth interviews explored the catastrophic experiences of eight elite performers. Participants responded to questions concerning an event in which they felt they had experienced an uncharacteristic but very noticeable drop in their performance, a “performance catastrophe.” Inductive and deductive analyses were employed to provide a clear representation of the data. This paper reports on how the dimensions emerging from the hierarchical content analysis changed from prior to the catastrophic drop in performance, during the drop, and after the drop (in terms of any recovery). Two emerging higher order dimensions, “sudden, substantial drop in performance” and “performance continued to deteriorate” provide support for one of the fundamental underpinnings of the catastrophe model (Hardy, 1990, 1996a, 1996b); that is, performance decrements do not follow a smooth and continuous path. The paper examines the implications of the findings with respect to applied practice and future research.