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
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.
Richard Tahtinen, Michael McDougall, Niels Feddersen, Olli Tikkanen, Robert Morris, and Noora J. Ronkainen
Individual differences in vulnerability to depression are still underexplored in athletes. We tested the influence of different brooding and reflective rumination profiles (i.e., repetitive thought processes in response to low/depressed mood) on the odds of experiencing clinically relevant depressive symptoms in competitive athletes (N = 286). The Patient Health Questionnaire–9 and the Ruminative Responses Scale–short form were utilized to measure depression and rumination, respectively. Compared to athletes with a low brooding/reflection profile, athletes with a high brooding/reflection profile had significantly higher odds of experiencing clinical levels of depressive symptoms (OR = 13.40, 95% CI = 3.81–47.11). A high reflection/low brooding profile was not, however, related to increased odds of depressive symptoms. Future research could extend our findings by exploring determinants of ruminative tendencies, especially brooding, in athletes. Furthermore, psychological interventions targeting rumination could be examined as a potential prevention and treatment approach to tackling depressive symptoms in athletes.
Noora J. Ronkainen, Michael McDougall, Olli Tikkanen, Niels Feddersen, and Richard Tahtinen
Meaning in movement is an enduring topic in sport social sciences, but few studies have explored how sport is meaningful and for whom. The authors examined the relationships between demographic variables, meaningfulness of sport, and craftsmanship. Athletes (N = 258, 61.6% male, age ≥18) from the United Kingdom completed a demographic questionnaire, the Work and Meaning Inventory modified for sport, and the Craftsmanship Scale. Older age and individual sport significantly correlated with higher craftsmanship. Craftsmanship and religion were two independent predictors of meaningfulness, but emphasized somewhat different meaning dimensions. Meaningfulness in sport seems to be related to how athletes approach their craft, as well as their overall framework of life meaning.