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Paul J. McCarthy and Marc V. Jones

This focus group study examined the sources of enjoyment and nonenjoyment among younger and older English children in the sampling years of sport participation (ages 7–12). Concurrent inductive and deductive content analysis revealed that, consistent with previous research, younger and older children reported sources of enjoyment such as perceived competence, social involvement and friendships, psychosocial support, and a mastery-oriented learning environment. Nonenjoyment sources included inappropriate psychosocial support, increasing competitive orientation, negative feedback and reinforcement, injuries, pain, and demonstrating a lack of competence. Differences between younger and older children’s sources of enjoyment and nonenjoyment also emerged. Younger children reported movement sensations as a source of enjoyment and punishment for skill errors and low informational support as nonenjoyment sources. Older children reported social recognition of competence, encouragement, excitement, and challenge as sources of enjoyment with rivalry, overtraining, and high standards as sources of nonenjoyment. These differences underscore the importance of tailoring youth sport in the sampling years to the needs of the child.

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Jamie B. Barker, Andrew L. Evans, Pete Coffee, Matt J. Slater and Paul J. McCarthy

In a one group pretest-posttest design, 15 elite academy cricketers were exposed to two personal-disclosure mutual-sharing (PDMS) sessions during a preseason tour. Within PDMS1, athletes disclosed (via prepared speeches) relationship-oriented information and within PDMS2, mastery oriented information. Social identity, social identity content, and collective efficacy were measured at baseline (1 week before the tour), post-PDMS1, midpoint, and post-PDMS2, while social validation was also obtained after each intervention session. Quantitative data revealed significant increases in social identity and friendships identity content at post-PDMS1, and results identity content and collective efficacy at post-PDMS2. Qualitative social validation data highlighted the thoughts and feelings of the athletes before their speeches and supported the effectiveness of the PDMS sessions. In sum, the data suggest practitioners can develop team outcomes (e.g., a focus on results) through developing specific aspects of teams’ identities. Study limitations, practitioner guidelines, and areas for future research are discussed.

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Paul J. McCarthy, Marc V. Jones, Chris G. Harwood and Laura Davenport

Positive affect is linked to enhanced motivation, commitment, and performance among youth sport performers; yet, few psychological interventions have specifically attempted to enhance positive affect among these athletes. To address this circumstance, we implemented a single-subject multiple-baseline design to examine the effects of a goal-setting intervention on the positive and negative affective responses of three competitive youth athletes. Statistical analysis coupled with visual inspection criteria revealed a significant overall increase in positive affect for participants 1 and 2. A statistically significant increase in positive affect also emerged for participant 3, yet it was not possible to detect a significant experimental effect using visual inspection criteria. No statistically significant decreases in negative effect emerged for any of the three participants. These results show some support for the hypothesis that goal setting may enhance positive affect among junior multievent athletes.

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Paul J. McCarthy, Marc V. Jones, Chris G. Harwood and Steve Olivier

One reason sport psychologists teach psychological skills is to enhance performance in sport; but the value of psychological skills for young athletes is questionable because of the qualitative and quantitative differences between children and adults in their understanding of abstract concepts such as mental skills. To teach these skills effectively to young athletes, sport psychologists need to appreciate what young athletes implicitly understand about such skills because maturational (e.g., cognitive, social) and environmental (e.g., coaches) factors can influence the progressive development of children and youth. In the present qualitative study, we explored young athletes’ (aged 10–15 years) understanding of four basic psychological skills: goal setting, mental imagery, self-talk, and relaxation. Young athletes (n= 118: 75 males and 43 females) completed an open-ended questionnaire to report their understanding of these four basic psychological skills. Compared with the older youth athletes, the younger youth athletes were less able to explain the meaning of each psychological skill. Goal setting and mental imagery were better understood than self-talk and relaxation. Based on these fndings, sport psychologists should consider adapting interventions and psychoeducational programs to match young athletes’ age and developmental level.