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Enhancing Coach Understanding of Mental Ill Health Through the Identification of Temporal Themes in Athletes’ Stories

Matthew J Smith and Oliver R. Runswick

In elite sport, research has highlighted the significant incidence of athletes experiencing mental ill health. The aim of the present study was to make sense of stories that elite athletes tell about experiencing mental ill health through sampling the autobiographies of four male, elite cricketers. In each book, the player spoke in detail about mental ill health and how this impacted on their international career. Horizontal and vertical analyses of the data resulted in six progressive themes being identified, from Early Warning Signs, Fluctuations of Mental Health, Build-up to the Severe Incident, the Severe Incident, the Recovery Process, to Relapsing. The findings are considered in line with how they might be used to meet the call to develop mental health literacy, in aiming to help coaches and other psychology support staff understand more about the process of athletes who experience mental ill health across their career.

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The Effectiveness of Dry Needling Combined With Therapeutic Exercises in Treating Tendinopathy Conditions: A Systematic Review

Emily Giorgi, Sarah Smith, Matthew J. Drescher, and Matthew J. Rivera

Context: Approximately 70,000 Americans miss work annually due to tendinopathies causing pain, disability, and lower quality of life. Various conservative treatments have been demonstrated to improve outcomes in these conditions. Dry needling (DN) and therapeutic exercise are 2 such interventions that have been proposed to be a positive intervention for addressing tendinopathy. Objective: To summarize the best available evidence on the use of DN and exercise combined to treat tendinopathy. Evidence Acquisition: PubMed, EBSCOHost, and Web of Science were systematically searched from inception to March 2021. Articles were assessed to determine eligibility and evaluated for methodological quality using the PEDro scale. The PRISMA guidelines were used for this review. Inclusion criteria consisted of use of DN in combination with therapeutic exercise, human participants, and active tendinopathy pathology. Evidence Synthesis: Seven studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, which averaged 6/11 on the PEDro scale. The level of agreement of evaluators was 94%. Current evidence supports the use of DN combined with therapeutic exercises, especially those including eccentric exercises, can improve pain and function for various tendinopathies. However, limited evidence exists regarding specific therapeutic interventions to be combined with DN. Conclusion: There is moderate, level B evidence to suggest the use of DN techniques targeted at the tendon and combined with eccentric therapeutic exercise to improve pain and functional outcomes for tendinopathies.

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Examining Experienced S&C Coaches’ Reflections on the Effectiveness of Psychosocial Behaviors in Coaching

Christoph Szedlak, Jo Batey, Matthew J. Smith, and Matthew Church

This study aimed to examine elite, experienced strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches’ reflections on the effectiveness of psychosocial behaviors in S&C coaching. In particular, this study aimed to explore which psychosocial behaviors are essential, the process of how these might influence coaching practice, and how the development of psychosocial behaviors should be encouraged. Eight elite, experienced S&C coaches were recruited and partook in a semistructured interview. Using a reflexive thematic analysis, six themes were identified: understanding athlete’s needs, communicating effectively, caring and connecting with the athlete, practicing what you preach, the importance of reflective practice, and the contribution of formal training. The findings of this study enhance the literature by highlighting that elite, experienced S&C coaches perceive psychosocial behaviors to be essential in effective S&C coaching practice. In particular, the findings describe the processes of how identified psychosocial behaviors might positively influence athlete development by enhancing motivation, buy-in, and autonomy. In addition, the authors’ results suggest that current S&C coach development programs are limited in facilitating the learning of psychosocial behaviors. Thus, their findings strengthen the call for S&C coach educators to utilize constructivist learning strategies including facilitated reflection to encourage the development of essential psychosocial behaviors that contribute to the holistic development of the athlete.

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Examining How Elite S&C Coaches Develop Coaching Practice Using Reflection Stimulated by Video Vignettes

Christoph Szedlak, Matthew J. Smith, Bettina Callary, and Melissa C. Day

The purpose of this study was to identify narrative types that illuminate how strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches used video vignettes in a guided reflection process to support the development of effective coaching practices. At the beginning of each week, over a 4-week period, 11 elite S&C coaches were sent a short video vignette clip of an S&C coach’s practice. They subsequently engaged in daily reflections in which they were guided to explore how the topic of the vignette aligned (or not) with their coaching practice. After the intervention, each S&C coach was interviewed regarding their process of learning from the vignette and from their reflections. Using a holistic narrative analysis of form and structure, the results exemplified three narrative types: performance, achievement, and helper. The S&C coaches whose reflections fitted the performance narrative type focused on their own practice, with limited consideration of the athletes’ perspective or the vignette. The S&C coaches whose reflections fitted the achievement narrative type strove to accomplish goals with their athletes and were selective in considering the vignette. The S&C coaches whose reflections fit the helper narrative type found that the vignette helped them consider an athlete-centered coaching approach focusing on the athletes’ well-being, as well as athletic abilities. Thus, S&C coach developers should utilize a guided reflection process that focuses on encouraging a coaching approach based on the helper narrative type.

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Using Written, Audio, and Video Vignettes to Translate Knowledge to Elite Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Christoph Szedlak, Matthew J. Smith, Bettina Callary, and Melissa C. Day

Research has shown that vignettes are useful in disseminating complex and applied information to practitioners with research mainly utilising written and audio vignettes to disseminate good practice. The current study examined the utility of a research-based vignette, presented in different formats (written, audio, video), to disseminate information to elite strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches. A single vignette was developed in three formats: a written, an audio, and a video vignette. The vignette involved an experienced S&C coach as the main character, and the plot outlined how this S&C coach aimed to learn more about effective coaching. Nineteen elite S&C coaches reflected on the utility of different vignette formats. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis. Overall, the results suggest that vignettes are useful in translating knowledge and encourage action, regardless of which format is used. Furthermore, the S&C coaches reported a preference for the video format, due to the video’s ability to communicate emotional, verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Practically, the vignette prompted the S&C coaches to reflect on areas such as coaching philosophy and values resulting in initial changes in their coaching practice.

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Special Issue in Online and Remote Coaching: Exploring Coaching Delivery and Coach Education in Online/Digital Environments

Chris Szedlak, Blake Bennett, and Matthew J. Smith

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Effects of Carbohydrate Ingestion and Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse on Repeat Sprint Performance

Ben M. Krings, Timothy J. Peterson, Brandon D. Shepherd, Matthew J. McAllister, and JohnEric W. Smith

The purpose of this investigation was to examine to the influence of carbohydrate ingestion (CHOI) and carbohydrate mouth rinse (CHOR) on acute repeat maximal sprint performance. Fourteen healthy males (age: 21.7 ± 1.8 years, mass: 82.3 ± 12.3 kg) completed a total of five 15-s maximal repeat sprints on a cycle ergometer against 0.075 kg ・ kg-1 body mass each separated by 4 min of active recovery. Subjects completed four experimental trials and were randomly assigned one of four treatments: (1) CHOI, (2) CHOR, (3) placebo mouth rinse (PLAR), (4) placebo ingestion (PLAI). Subjects rinsed or ingested six 50 mL 10% CHO solutions throughout each trial. Performance variables measured included rating of perceived exertion, peak heart rate, peak and mean power output, fatigue index, and total work. Significant treatment main effects were observed for mean power output (p = 0.026), total work (p = 0.020), fatigue index (p = 0.004), and heart rate (p = 0.013). Overall mean power output and total work were significantly greater with CHOI (659.3 ± 103.0 watts, 9849.8 ± 1598.8 joules) compared with CHOR (645.8 ± 99.7 watts, 9447.5 ± 1684.9 joules, p < .05). CHOI (15.3 ± 8.6 watts/s) significantly attenuated fatigue index compared with CHOR (17.7 ± 10.4 watts/s, p < .05). Based on our findings, CHOI was more likely to provide a beneficial performance effect compared with CHOR, PLAI, and PLAR. Athletes required to complete repeat bouts of high intensity exercise may benefit from CHOI.

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Transformational Leadership in Elite Sport: A Qualitative Analysis of Effective Leadership Behaviors in Cricket

Matthew J. Smith, David J. Young, Sean G. Figgins, and Calum A. Arthur

We examined transformational leadership behaviors are exhibited in an elite sport environment. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 9 professional county cricket players to explore perceptions of transformational leadership behaviors of their captain and head-coach. Behaviors were firstly deductively categorized based on the Differentiated Transformational Leadership Inventory, with the most frequently cited being high performance expectations and individual consideration from the coach, and appropriate role-modeling of the captain. Further inductive analyses revealed a range of other factors which may influence players’ perceptions of transformational leadership. From these findings, suggestions are offered for those working in an applied context with sporting leaders.

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Intrarater and Interrater Agreement of the Intrinsic Foot Muscle Test

Stephanie J. Facchini, Matthew C. Hoch, Deanna H. Smith, and Johanna M. Hoch


The intrinsic foot muscle test (IFMT) is purported to identify intrinsic foot muscle (IFM) weakness during clinical examination. However, before this test can be used in clinical practice the clinometric properties must be determined. In addition, it is unclear if the IFMT provides information regarding the integrity of the foot arch beyond static foot posture assessments such as the navicular drop test (NDT).


To determine the reliability of the IFMT as well as its correlation with the NDT.



Patients or other Participants:

Two novice ATs served as the raters. The NDT was assessed by a third investigator during the first session. Twenty-five participants (16 females, 9 males; age: 22.4 ± 1.7 years; height: 170.8 ± 10.2 cm; mass: 73.5 ± 12.8 kg) completed two data collection sessions separated by one week.


During each session the IFMT was assessed bilaterally in a counterbalanced order by the raters. Each test was rated simultaneously by both raters during each trial and the raters were blinded to each other’s results during and between test sessions.

Main Outcome Measures:

The independent variable was time (session one and session two) and the dependent variables included rating on the IFMT and navicular drop height.


Intrarater agreement was poor to fair (κ = .03−.41) and interrater agreement was fair to moderate (κ = .25−.60). Post hoc Wilcoxon rank tests demonstrated a significant number of participants improved between sessions for both raters. A weak correlation was observed between the NDT and IFMT for both right (r = −.14 to .04, p < .49) and left (r = −.19 to .07, p < .37) feet.


The IFMT demonstrated poor to fair intrarater and fair to moderate interrater agreement, suggesting future research is needed to modify this method of measuring IFM function. The improvement between sessions indicates a potential familiarization period within the test. The weak correlation between the IFMT and NDT indicates these tests evaluate different aspects of foot function.

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No Longer a Sign of Weakness? Media Reporting on Mental Ill Health in Sport

Keith D. Parry, Abigail G. Braim, Rebecca E. Jull, and Matthew J. Smith

This study analyzed media framing of athletes who have suffered mental ill health. The mass media play a crucial role in shaping public attitudes and perceptions surrounding mental health, and the present study aimed to examine the media reporting of athletes’ mental ill health and to further explore how this reporting has changed over time. We examined the reporting of elite athletes in three U.K. media outlets between January 2000 and December 2019, identifying 75 athletes from 26 different sports. From analysis, four themes were developed to consider the content of media reporting and how it has changed over three time phases. The analysis revealed that media reporting of mental ill health has increased over time, and changes were observed in terms of the specific terminology used, with greater depth in the articles, such as journalists speaking to other professionals to construct the articles. This study contributes toward our growing understanding of the reporting of mental ill health by providing empirical evidence of the increased attention to the topic and increasingly responsible reporting in the media.