In the current study we investigated whether ego depletion negatively affects attention regulation under pressure in sports by assessing participants’ dart throwing performance and accompanying gaze behavior. According to the strength model of self-control, the most important aspect of self-control is attention regulation. Because higher levels of state anxiety are associated with impaired attention regulation, we chose a mixed design with ego depletion (yes vs. no) as between-subjects and anxiety level (high vs. low) as within-subjects factor. Participants performed a perceptual-motor task requiring selective attention, namely, dart throwing. In line with our expectations, depleted participants in the high-anxiety condition performed worse and displayed a shorter final fixation on bull’s eye, demonstrating that when one’s self-control strength is depleted, attention regulation under pressure cannot be maintained. This is the first study that directly supports the general assumption that ego depletion is a major factor in influencing attention regulation under pressure.
Chris Englert, Kris Zwemmer, Alex Bertrams, and Raôul R.D. Oudejans
A.P. (Karin) de Bruin and Raôul R.D. Oudejans
The aim of the study was to investigate if and how body image, taken from a contextual perspective, contributes to the eating disorder history. This qualitative study investigated the process of eating disorder development in eight elite women athletes in at-risk sports. The results showed that the relationship between eating disorder symptomatology and the sports environment was clearly recognized by the elite women athletes. Contextual body image, more specifically negative body-evaluations and upward body comparisons, appeared as an important factor in the development of eating disorders, particularly in the athletic context. It became clear that the two aesthetic and two endurance athletes as well as the two weight-class athletes in rowing described quite negative body evaluations in the context of sport, while some of them also recognized an impact of body image experiences in daily life. However, for both judokas, their eating disorder had nothing to do with their body image but was attributed to the weight-classes in their sport and accompanying weight making. Several unique trajectories and individual eating disorder histories were distinguished which confirms the value of taking a qualitative approach in investigating eating disorders in sport. We also discovered links between what the athletes had reported as contributors to their eating disorder history and how they told their stories by combining content analysis and narrative inquiry. Furthermore, the present study also highlights several critical aspects for prevention and treatment that should support sport federations and clinical sport psychologists in taking appropriate actions to deal more effectively with eating disorders in athletes.
Jolan Kegelaers, Janneke Wikkerink, and Raôul R.D. Oudejans
This case study presents the structured and evidence-informed approach toward developing a psychological assessment instrument within a national basketball federation. To this end, a two-phase approach was adopted. During the first phase, a focus group with the coaches was conducted to determine the key psychological characteristics pertinent to the case environment. This resulted in 10 identified key psychological characteristics. During the second phase, the results from the focus group were used to develop and conduct preliminary testing of a context-specific assessment instrument. Preliminary testing resulted in a refined instrument including nine characteristics. Based on the findings of this case study, the authors conclude this paper by outlining a number of reflections that can provide important considerations for sport psychologists, coaches, and talent identification and development organizations looking to develop and implement psychological assessment within their programs.
Arne Nieuwenhuys, J. Rob Pijpers, Raôul R.D. Oudejans, and Frank C. Bakker
The object of the current study was to investigate anxiety-induced changes in movement and gaze behavior in novices on a climbing wall. Identical traverses were situated at high and low levels on a climbing wall to manipulate anxiety. In line with earlier studies, climbing times and movement times increased under anxiety. These changes were accompanied by similar changes in total and average fixation duration and the number of fixations, which were primarily aimed at the holds used for climbing. In combination with these findings, a decrease in search rate provided evidence for a decrease in processing efficiency as anxiety increased.
Jolan Kegelaers, Paul Wylleman, I. (Belle) N.A. van Bree, Francesco Wessels, and Raôul R.D. Oudejans
Coaching in elite sports can be a highly volatile and stressful profession. Nevertheless, limited knowledge is available on how coach stressors impact elite-level coaches’ mental health. The present study therefore aimed to assess the self-perceived impact of coach stressors on coaches’ mental health, in terms of psychological and social well-being, as well as the prevalence of symptoms of a number of common mental disorders. Furthermore, the role of resilience was examined as a potential protective resource against mental health issues in coaches. Data were collected cross-sectionally, using an online survey with 119 elite-level coaches from the Netherlands and Belgium. Results showed that, although coach stressors were commonly experienced, the self-perceived impact on mental health was low to moderate. Nevertheless, symptoms of common mental disorders were prevalent within the coaches, ranging from 39% for depression/anxiety to 19% for distress and adverse alcohol use. Furthermore, organizational stressors were found to be a positive predictor for symptoms of depression/anxiety, whereas resilience was a negative predictor. The results highlight the need for more research and attention to the mental health of coaches in elite sports.