The challenges encountered by sport psychologists operating within elite and professional sports teams have arguably been inadequately considered (Nesti, 2010). It has been suggested that this may be due to the inaccessibility of elite team environments (Eubank, Nesti, & Cruickshank, 2014; Nesti, 2010). The purpose of this research was to examine the challenges facing practitioners who operate in elite environments and to illuminate how these were experienced. Qualitative interviews with six experienced applied sport psychologists were conducted and a narrative themed analysis undertaken. Four main themes emerged as most prevalent and meaningful: challenges to congruence, a broader role: managing multiple relationships, the influence of elite sport cultures, and surviving and thriving were presented in narrative form. Practitioners provided experiential insight into how specific challenges were understood and dealt with, and how they are able to provide an effective service while managing themselves and the demands of the environment.
Michael McDougall, Mark Nesti, and David Richardson
Tom Mitchell, Adam Gledhill, Mark Nesti, Dave Richardson, and Martin Littlewood
There are concerns surrounding the lack of players making the transition from youth to professional status within English professional soccer. Stakeholders, such as coaches, have been largely overlooked by researchers often focussing on player experiences. The authors aimed to explore soccer practitioner perceptions of the debilitating factors associated with youth-to-senior progression. Practitioners were chosen as they inform the working practices and are the cultural architects of the environment in which players operate. Interviews were conducted with 18 soccer practitioners (male = 17 and female = 1). These included coaches (n = 6), academy managers (n = 8), and staff involved with education and welfare (n = 4). The data were thematically analysed, and four themes were identified (cultural climate, working practices, occupational hazards, and social challenges). The analysis provided a clear picture of the transition landscape faced by players seeking to make the youth-to-senior transition through the eyes of soccer practitioners. The findings present a novel viewpoint to facilitate reflection around their own practice when managing youth-to-senior transitions. Further research is needed to triangulate player experiences and operational aspects of facilitating transitions, which could lead to the creation of best practice guidance.
Michael McDougall, Noora Ronkainen, David Richardson, Martin Littlewood, and Mark Nesti
In sport psychology, organizational culture is usually depicted as shared, consistent, and clear—the glue that holds people together so they can achieve success. There is, however, growing discontent in sport psychology with this idea of culture and extensive critiques in other academic domains that suggest this perspective is limited. Accordingly, the authors draw on narrative interviews with participants (n = 7) from different areas of sport and use Martin and Meyerson’s three perspective (integration, differentiation, and fragmentation) approach to culture alongside thematic analysis to reconstruct three “ideal cases” that exemplify each perspective. The findings emphasize a different pattern of meaning in each actors’ narrative and suggest the need to develop a broader, more inclusive concept of culture, so as not to minimize or dismiss cultural content that is not obviously shared, clear, or created by leadership; a course of action that can enhance both research and practice in the area.
Darren J. Devaney, Mark Stephen Nesti, Noora J. Ronkainen, Martin A. Littlewood, and David Richardson
This study aims to highlight how an existential-humanistic perspective can inform athlete support and in doing so, emphasize the importance of explicating the philosophical underpinnings of athlete lifestyle support. Drawing on applied experience with elite youth cricketers over a 12-month period, ethnographic data were collected through the observation, maintenance of case notes, and a practitioner reflective diary. Based on thematic analysis, we created three nonfictional vignettes that we use to illustrate how existential-humanistic theorizing can inform lifestyle support. We discuss the implications of this professional philosophy in terms of considerations for performance and talent development programs, and how holistic support for athletes is positioned. We also discuss implications for athlete lifestyle and performance psychology practitioners, with regard to training, underpinning theoretical grounding of support and the strategic positioning of their practitioner roles.