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The Professionalization of Women’s Football in England and its Impact on Coaches’ Philosophy of Practice

Emily J. Sleeman and Noora J. Ronkainen

Women’s elite football is in a transitional phase where coaches and players are increasingly offered professional contracts. The current study examined the stories of coaches currently operating in a women’s football academy in England to understand whether and how the professionalization of women’s football has influenced their coaching philosophy. Narrative interviews with 10 coaches (aged 23–60 years, two women) were carried out and analyzed using thematic narrative analysis. Observational data were also obtained while the authors were immersed within the environment. Two high-order themes were identified: (a) the coaches adapted their philosophy to meet the new needs of professionalization and (b) there were novel moral challenges surrounding the coaches’ approach to a dual career. The findings illustrated that the individuals developed a coaching philosophy that was adapted according to the coaching environment, which was largely informed from their previous experiences in men’s football. Player’s stories highlighted conflicting expectations surrounding dual careers.

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“You Challenge Yourself and You’re not Afraid of Anything!” Women’s Narratives of Running in Shanghai

Noora J. Ronkainen, Amanda Shuman, and Lin Xu

Distance running is a rapidly growing leisure practice among urban Chinese adults. This study explores female runners’ experiences in Shanghai through life story interviews with 14 female runners. We analyzed their stories for cultural narrative resources and gendered life scripts used in the construction of running identities and practices. Although all interviewees constructed running within narratives of health, ideal body and achievement, women also storied running as a liberating and autonomy-boosting activity. Yet, despite their privileged status as educated urban citizens, they had to negotiate essentialist gender discourses and initially lacked self-confidence in sports. They constructed their achievements as exceptional, rather than as something that all Chinese women could do.

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Restoring Harmony in the Lifeworld? Identity, Learning, and Leaving Preelite Sport

Noora J. Ronkainen, Tatiana V. Ryba, and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

Sport provides many youth participants with a central life project, and yet very few eventually fulfill their athletic dreams, which may lead them to disengage from sport entirely. Many studies have explored the processes of athletic retirement, but little is known about how youth athletes actually reconstruct their relationship with sport and embodiment postretirement. The authors explored these issues in the story of “Pilvi,” a Finnish alpine skier who disengaged from sport in her late adolescence. Employing an existential-phenomenological approach, they conducted six low-structured interviews with Pilvi, combined with visual methods, and identified key themes relating to the body, space, culture, and time. Their findings highlight the difficulty of building a new relationship with sport and the often restrictive cultural horizons of sport and exercise culture that limit the “possible selves.” The authors discuss the significant implications for applied practitioners helping youth athletes and effectively supporting them in leaving their sport.

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Beyond Health and Happiness: An Exploratory Study Into the Relationship Between Craftsmanship and Meaningfulness of Sport

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.

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The Philosophical Underpinning of Athlete Lifestyle Support: An Existential-Humanistic Perspective

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.

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Me, Myself, and My Thoughts: The Influence of Brooding and Reflective Rumination on Depressive Symptoms in Athletes in the United Kingdom

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.