While clinical psychology has embraced the importance of psychophysiology and neuroscience when considering the client condition, the field of sport psychology has been slower to consider the potential importance of this area for athletic clientele. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed to describe the current state of psychophysiological and neuroscience research and illustrate how clinical sport psychologists may, in the future, use technologies such as biofeedback/neurofeedback and physiological measurement (EMG, EEG, skin temperature, EDR, HR, HRV, respiration, and hormonal responses) with high-level athletes from a variety of sports for both performance enhancement and diagnosis and management of head injury. As Guest Editor of this unique special issue, I have written the present introduction to highlight the issue’s important mission. This introductory paper sets the stage for five informative and cutting-edge articles by leading professionals. In all, the articles cover an array of topics on psychophysiology and neuroscience in sport, such as (a) the theoretical underpinnings of biofeedback/neurofeedback, (b) the empirical application of such approaches, (c) the current state of efficacy with regard to this newer line of research and practice, and (d) the use of fMRI in understanding psychological processes in sport. I hope that this timely special issue provokes many additional questions and advanced research in our collective pursuit to assist athletes.
Psychophysiology and Neuroscience in Sport: Introduction to the Special Issue
The Sport Psych Handbook
Jessyca Arthur and Leonard Zaichkowsky
Setting the Balance: Using Biofeedback and Neurofeedback with Gymnasts
Lindsay Shaw, Leonard Zaichkowsky, and Vietta Wilson
The present paper evaluated the efficacy of a biofeedback/neurofeedback training program to create an optimal preperformance state to improve gymnasts’ balance beam performance in competition. Training to increase heart rate variability (HRV) and sensorimotor rhythm while inhibiting theta was provided to 11 Division I gymnasts in 10 15-min sessions. Results of this uncontrolled study indicated that competition scores and scores from an independently judged video assessment improved throughout the training, beta decreased from preto postassessment, and there were no changes in HRV, sensorimotor rhythm, or theta. The withdrawal of training resulted in a decline of competition scores.
Certification of Consultants in Sport Psychology: A Rebuttal to Anshel
Leonard D. Zaichkowsky and Frank M. Perna
The purpose of this paper is to respond to the arguments against certification in sport psychology presented by Anshel (1992). Anshel’s central arguments were (a) certification will diminish rather than promote the field of sport psychology, (b) Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) certification favors professionals trained in psychology, and (c) AAASP certification is inappropriately reliant on clinical psychology as a model for the practice of sport psychology. These criticisms of certification are rebutted by clearly defining certification and related terms, professing an adequate scientific knowledge base in sport psychology to support practice, identifying fraudulent practice as unrelated to certification, clarifying procedures used in developing AAASP certification criteria, and presenting evidence that sport psychology professionals trained in the sport sciences are not less favored for AAASP certification and that clinical psychology is not used as the model for practice in sport psychology.
Psychological Aspects of Athletic Injuries as Perceived by Athletic Trainers
Gerald A. Larson, Chad Starkey, and Leonard D. Zaichkowsky
This study investigated the perceptions of certified athletic trainers concerning their attitudes, beliefs, and application of a variety of psychological strategies and techniques used in the treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. The Athletic Training and Sport Psychology Questionnaire (ATSPQ) was adapted from instruments developed by Wiese, Weiss, and Yukelson (1991) and Brewer, Van Raalte, and Linder (1991). The ATSPQ, a letter of introduction, and a self-addressed stamped envelope were distributed to 1,000 certified athletic trainers randomly selected from the membership database maintained by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). Only 482 (48.2%) of these questionnaires returned were usable. 47% of athletic trainers who responded believe that every injured athlete suffers psychological trauma. 24% reported that they have referred an athlete for counseling for situations related to their injury, and 25% reported that they have a sport psychologist as a member of their sports medicine team. This study concludes that future education of athletic trainers should address the psychological aspects of injury treatment as well as the development of a sport psychology referral network.
The Influence of Career Planning, Race, and Athletic Injury on Life Satisfaction among Recently Retired Collegiate Male Athletes
Frank M. Perna, Rebecca L. Ahlgren, and Leonard Zaichkowsky
Collegiate male athletes and nonathletes’ (N = 76) level of life satisfaction was assessed at termination of their collegiate careers, and further analyses indicated the degree of association between athletic injury history and life satisfaction after accounting for demographic and career-planning variables. While no significant Group or Group by Race interaction effects were found, life satisfaction was significantly lower among African American students. Regression analysis, controlling for demographic variables, further indicated that athletes who had sustained a severe athletic injury were no less satisfied with life than noninjured and moderately injured athletes. However, athletes who could state a postcollegiate occupational plan were significantly more satisfied with life than those who were unable to indicate such a goal. Results suggest that the role of athletic participation and athletic injury with respect to life satisfaction may have been overemphasized. The potential role of career planning in understanding termination from collegiate sport is discussed.
The Effects of a Twice-A-Week Strength Training Program on Children
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Leonard D. Zaichkowsky, Wayne L. Westcott, Lyle J. Micheli, and Allan F. Fehlandt
The effectiveness of a twice-a-week strength training program on children was evaluated in 14 boys and girls (mean age 10.8 yrs) who participated in a biweekly training program for 8 weeks. Each subject performed three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on five exercises with intensities ranging between 50 and 100% of a given 10-repetition maximum (RM). All subjects were pre- and posttested on the following measures: 10-RM strength, sit and reach flexibility, vertical jump, seated ball put, resting blood pressure, and body composition parameters. The subjects were compared to a similar group of boys and girls (n = 9; mean age 9.9 yrs) who were randomly selected to serve as controls. Following the training period, the experimental group made greater gains in strength (74.3%) as compared to the control group (13.0%) (p < 0.001), and differences in the sum of seven skinfolds were noted (−2.3% vs. +1.7%, respectively, p < 0.05). Training did not significantly affect other variables. These results suggest that participation in a short-term, twice-a-week strength training program can increase the strength and improve the body composition of young boys and girls.
Experiences of Burnout Among Adolescent Female Gymnasts: Three Case Studies
Nicole G. Dubuc, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Randy Battochio, and Leonard Zaichkowsky
Within the current study, the process of adolescent burnout is considered in relation to perceived contributors, symptoms, consequences, and subsequently, effective and ineffective coping strategies. Through case studies, the researchers sought the burnout experiences of three competitive female gymnasts. Participants were selected based on scores obtained from Raedeke and Smith’s (2001) Athlete Burnout Questionnaire. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the process, athlete data were considered in tandem with interviews from at least one parent and one coach. Transcribed data were segmented into meaning units, coded into a hierarchy of themes and verified by each respondent. Despite common trends among the participants, differences were also found in relation to symptoms, contributors, and the progression of the condition. Implications are provided for the athlete/parent/coach triad and also for sport psychologists.