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Alyson J. Crozier, Luc J. Martin, and Kevin S. Spink

The extent to which humans consider themselves part of a group versus a collection of individuals is termed groupness. Despite a rich history in other domains, research examining the construct in physical activity settings is only beginning to emerge. Indeed, seminal research from other domains and recent efforts in physical activity highlight the importance of groupness perceptions for a range of outcomes. This paper provides an overview of the current groupness conceptualization in physical activity, presents research conducted in exercise and sport contexts, and, most important, provides a roadmap highlighting future research avenues. Proposed lines of enquiry relevant to physical activity include the development of a context-specific conceptualization, advances in methodologies to facilitate measurement and analysis, and the importance of contextualizing groupness research within physical activity settings.

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Kelsey Saizew, M. Blair Evans, Veronica Allan, and Luc J. Martin

The authors explored how sport structure predisposed a team to subgroup formation and influenced athlete interactions and team functioning. A season-long qualitative case study was undertaken with a nationally ranked Canadian track and field team. Semistructured interviews were conducted with coaches (n = 4) and athletes (n = 11) from different event groups (e.g., sprinters, jumpers) at the beginning and at the end of the season. The results highlighted constraints that directly impacted athlete interactions and predisposed the group to subgroup formation (e.g., sport/event type, facility/schedule limitations, team size/change over time). The constraints led to structural divides that impacted interactions but could be overcome through team building, engaging with leaders, and prioritizing communication. These findings underline how structure imposed by the design of sports impacts teammate interactions and how practitioners, coaches, and athletes can manage groups when facing such constraints. The authors describe theoretical and practical implications while also proposing potential future directions.

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Julie-Anne Staehli, Luc J. Martin, and Jean Côté

Based on a condition-setting approach derived from organizational psychology, the authors investigated the conditions that university sport coaches considered and implemented prior to a competitive season. Using a collective case study approach, semistructured interviews were conducted at two time points, with five head coaches across different sports. Student-athletes from each team (n = 5) and the high performance director from the institution were also interviewed. The data were analyzed thematically to highlight the relevant conditions for coaches and their individual athletes and were then generalized across teams within the institution. The authors’ results support the utility of the condition-setting approach outlined by Hackman for sport. Specifically, coaches emphasized the need to (a) create a team vision with clear objectives, (b) opt for athletes of best fit, (c) assign team roles and expectations, (d) confirm and allocate necessary resources, and (e) have competent and prepared team coaching. Despite the generalizability of these themes, the authors’ results highlight the need to consider the context, as both the university environment generally and each specific program were bound by unique constraints (e.g., funding). Herein, the authors discuss their findings in relation to the broader literature, propose future directions, and provide practical implications for sport coaches and institutions.

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Jennifer T. Coletti, Veronica Allan, and Luc J. Martin

A child’s first contact with media and culture typically comes from books they are exposed to in the home and at school. The narratives presented contribute to the early reinforcement of gender roles and norms and can greatly influence the way that young girls perceive and experience sport. The purpose of this study was to explore the narratives within sport-based books geared toward a young female audience to determine the extent to which they promote the engagement of girls in sport. A pragmatic literature search was conducted to obtain books that met our inclusion criteria. Books (n = 28) were analyzed based on the age of their intended audience (aged 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12 years) using thematic narrative analysis. Although the authors promoted the engagement of girls in sport, underlying gender stereotypes were nevertheless salient. Across the books, themes involved the emphasis of “feminine” sports as a context for diversity and learning, the need to understand development as a process, the importance of relationships, and implications pertaining to perceptions of capability as female athletes. Most importantly, the application of a critical feminist lens enabled us to identify an underlying theme—the reinforcement of gender stereotypes—that permeated the storylines and served to undermine the potential adaptive messaging intended by authors. These findings suggest the need for greater attention toward the complexity of female sport and a cultural shift in thinking toward gender equity rather than simply increasing sport access for female participants.

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Sarah Lawrason, Jennifer Turnnidge, Luc J. Martin, and Jean Côté

To maximize the effectiveness of coach development, educational programs should target coaches’ interpersonal behaviors, be informed by behavior-change techniques, and incorporate comprehensive evaluation procedures. Thus, informed by the full-range leadership model (see Bass and Riggio in 2006) and the Behaviour Change Wheel (see Michie et al. in 2011), Turnnidge and Côté in 2017 developed the Transformational Coaching Workshop (TCW). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the TCW’s effectiveness through observation before and after coaches’ workshop participation. Participants included 8 male head coaches of youth soccer teams. Systematic observation and coding using the Coach Leadership Assessment System were employed pre- and postworkshop to examine coaches’ leadership behaviors. Coaches made improvements in the types of leadership behaviors used and how they were conveyed. This study demonstrates that systematic observation can be implemented to explore real-world changes in behaviors. Future research should examine the impact of the TCW on athlete outcomes.

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Jordan D. Herbison, Luc J. Martin, and Mustafa Sarkar

Adversity is viewed as both an inevitable and an important experience for elite athletes. The purpose of this study was to explore elite athletes’ perceptions of the experiences and characteristics that helped them overcome a shared sport-specific adversity. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 professional athletes (M age = 27.25, SD = 3.28 yr) who had progressed to careers in the National Hockey League (NHL) despite not being selected in the annual amateur entry draft. Participants discussed their long-term objectives of playing in the NHL, previous experiences with adversity, certain psychological characteristics that facilitated their progression (e.g., competitiveness, passion, confidence), and the significance of social support as key factors that helped them overcome the initial and subsequent adversities associated with being unselected during the amateur entry draft. Practical implications and proposed avenues for future research are discussed in the context of the study’s limitations.

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Milou Beelen, Louise M. Burke, Martin J. Gibala, and Luc J.C. van Loon

During postexercise recovery, optimal nutritional intake is important to replenish endogenous substrate stores and to facilitate muscle-damage repair and reconditioning. After exhaustive endurance-type exercise, muscle glycogen repletion forms the most important factor determining the time needed to recover. Postexercise carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion has been well established as the most important determinant of muscle glycogen synthesis. Coingestion of protein and/or amino acids does not seem to further increase muscle glycogensynthesis rates when CHO intake exceeds 1.2 g · kg−1 · hr−1. However, from a practical point of view it is not always feasible to ingest such large amounts of CHO. The combined ingestion of a small amount of protein (0.2–0.4 g · (0.2−0.4 g · kg−1 · hr−1) with less CHO (0.8 g · kg−1 · hr−1) stimulates endogenous insulin release and results in similar muscle glycogen-repletion rates as the ingestion of 1.2 g · kg−1 · hr−1 CHO. Furthermore, postexercise protein and/or amino acid administration is warranted to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, inhibit protein breakdown, and allow net muscle protein accretion. The consumption of ~20 g intact protein, or an equivalent of ~9 g essential amino acids, has been reported to maximize muscle protein-synthesis rates during the first hours of postexercise recovery. Ingestion of such small amounts of dietary protein 5 or 6 times daily might support maximal muscle protein-synthesis rates throughout the day. Consuming CHO and protein during the early phases of recovery has been shown to positively affect subsequent exercise performance and could be of specific benefit for athletes involved in multiple training or competition sessions on the same or consecutive days.

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Naomi M. Cermak, Martin J. Gibala, and Luc J.C. van Loon

Six days of dietary nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice (~0.5 L/d) has been reported to reduce pulmonary oxygen uptake (VO2) during submaximal exercise and increase tolerance of high-intensity work rates, suggesting that nitrate can be a potent ergogenic aid. Limited data are available regarding the effect of nitrate ingestion on athletic performance, and no study has investigated the potential ergogenic effects of a small-volume, concentrated dose of beetroot juice. The authors tested the hypothesis that 6 d of nitrate ingestion would improve time-trial performance in trained cyclists. Using a double-blind, repeated-measures crossover design, 12 male cyclists (31 ± 3 yr, VO2peak = 58 ± 2 ml · kg−1 · min−1, maximal power [Wmax] = 342 ± 10 W) ingested 140 ml/d of concentrated beetroot (~8 mmol/d nitrate) juice (BEET) or a placebo (nitrate-depleted beetroot juice; PLAC) for 6 d, separated by a 14-d washout. After supplementation on Day 6, subjects performed 60 min of submaximal cycling (2 × 30 min at 45% and 65% Wmax, respectively), followed by a 10-km time trial. Time-trial performance (953 ± 18 vs. 965 ± 18 s, p < .005) and power output (294 ± 12 vs. 288 ± 12 W, p < .05) improved after BEET compared with PLAC supplementation. Submaximal VO2 was lower after BEET (45% Wmax = 1.92 ± 0.06 vs. 2.02 ± 0.09 L/min, 65% Wmax 2.94 ± 0.12 vs. 3.11 ± 0.12 L/min) than with PLAC (main effect, p < .05). Wholebody fuel selection and plasma lactate, glucose, and insulin concentrations did not differ between treatments. Six days of nitrate supplementation reduced VO2 during submaximal exercise and improved time-trial performance in trained cyclists.

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Luc J. Martin, Jessi Wilson, M. Blair Evans, and Kevin S. Spink

Although cliques are often referenced in sporting circles, they have received little attention in the group dynamics literature. This is surprising given their potential influence on group-related processes that could ultimately influence team functioning (e.g., Carron & Eys, 2012). The present study examined competitive athletes’ perceptions of cliques using semistructured interviews with 18 (nine female, nine male) intercollegiate athletes (Mage = 20.9, SD = 1.6) from nine sport teams. Athletes described the formation of cliques as an inevitable and variable process that was influenced by a number of antecedents (e.g., age/tenure, proximity, similarity) and ultimately shaped individual and group outcomes such as isolation, performance, and sport adherence. Further, athletes described positive consequences that emerged when existing cliques exhibited more inclusive behaviors and advanced some areas of focus for the management of cliques within sport teams. Results are discussed from both theoretical and practical perspectives.

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Jordan D. Herbison, Terry W. Cowan, Luc J. Martin, Zach Root, and Mark W. Bruner

This study sought to examine coaches’ perceptions of social identity among their athletes and explore the ways that they may attempt to influence its development. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 head coaches (M age = 49.25 years; SD = 6.5 years; M experience  = 15.75 years; SD = 7.66 years; n female = 1) of male (n = 8) and female (n = 4) competitive youth ice hockey teams. Three main themes were identified through our analysis. First, the coaches’ perceptions of athletes’ social identities were described through examples of peer connection and similarity (i.e., in-group ties), athletes’ experience of positive affect (i.e., in-group affect), and athletes demonstrating the meaning and value that they attribute to team membership (i.e., cognitive centrality). Second, the coaches discussed a variety of ways that they sought to develop and reinforce a shared social identity within their teams. These behaviors aligned with principles advanced within the social identity leadership literature—namely, the coaches acted as in-group prototypes, in-group champions, entrepreneurs of identity, and embedders of identity. Finally, the coaches identified parents and cliques as key social agents with the ability to undermine social identity development. The findings are discussed in relation to both their theoretical and practical implications.