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Robert J. Schinke, Gershon Tenenbaum, Ronnie Lidor and Randy C. Battochio

Adaptation is defined here as the end point in a process, when people respond in a positive manner to hardship, threat, and challenge, including monumental sport tests, such as international tournaments. Recently, there have been formal research investigations where adaptation has been considered as a provisional framework, with a more formal structure of pathways. Sport scholars have studied Olympic and professional athletes, provided support for a theoretical framework, and identified provisional substrategies for each pathway. In this article the authors situate adaptation within a larger discourse of related interventions, including coping and self-regulation. Subsequently, adaptation is proposed as a comprehensive intervention strategy for elite athletes during monumental sport environments.

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Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell and Gershon Tenenbaum

Semistructured interviews were used in this study to learn about the challenges experienced by four groups of National Hockey League (NHL) players (N= 11): prospects (n= 3), rookies (n= 3), veterans (n= 2), and retirees (n= 3). The database is comprised of 757 meaning units grouped into 11 contextual challenges. From an additional quantitative analysis, the prospects and rookies emphasized challenges pertaining to scouting demands, training camp, increased athletic demands, team expectations, and earning team trust. The veterans spoke mostly of challenges including scouting demands, athletic demands, and team expectations. Retirees considered mostly challenges pertaining to team expectations, athletic demands, lifestyle, media demands, transactions, cross-cultural encounters, and playoffs. An expert panel ensured that the interview guide, data analysis, and the findings represented the participants’ experiences in the NHL. Recommendations for practitioners and researchers working with NHL players are proposed.

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Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell and Gershon Tenenbaum

Through adaptation studies in elite sport, researchers can delineate the strategies that amateur and professional athletes employ during career transitions (e.g., promotion, relocation). Fiske (2004) identified five core motives as catalysts to adaptation: understanding, controlling, self-enhancement, belonging, and trusting, which were recently contextualized in sport as a result of one archival study examining the second hand experiences of National Hockey League (NHL) players. The purpose of the present study was to learn about the adaptation process of NHL players based on a first hand data source (i.e., semi-structured interview). A semi-structured open-ended interview guide was utilized to learn about the experiences of four groups of NHL players (n = 11): prospects (n = 3), rookies (n = 3), veterans (n = 2), and retirees (n = 3). There is an indication that adaptation strategies and sub-strategies vary according to the player’s career stage and the challenges related to seeking and maintaining a roster spot. The findings are also consistent with Fiske’s five core motives and earlier adaptation sub-strategies, in addition to uncovering three novel sub-strategies (i.e., understanding one’s performance, distraction control, and trusting player agents). Implications and recommendations are provided for sport researchers and practitioners.

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Robert J. Schinke, Randy C. Battochio, Nicole G. Dubuc, Shawn Swords, Gord Apolloni and Gershon Tenenbaum

Athletes employ a variety of adaptation strategies when adjusting to competitive environments. Fiske (2004) identified five core motives that facilitate human adaptation: (a) understanding, (b) controlling, (c) self-enhancement, (d) belonging, and (e) trusting. Recent qualitative analyses (Schinke, Gauthier, Dubuc, & Crowder, 2007) revealed that these motives correspond to particular adaptation strategies that professional athletes employ in stressful settings. The present study uses analysis of archival data (i.e., journalistic accounts) to explore the adaptation efforts of Canadian Olympic athletes (N = 103) as they prepared for and participated in summer (n = 35) and winter (n = 68) games. Contextual experts with extensive Olympic experience were enlisted to clarify the archival record. Findings revealed that the Olympic athletes used strategies corresponding to each of Fiske’s five motives, as well as numerous specific substrategies. Use of substrategies was consistent across athletes, regardless of Olympic experience, gender, or season (e.g., winter or summer games). Discussion explores the implications of adaptation strategies for Olympic athletes and their supporting staff.

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Robert J. Schinke, Randy C. Battochio, Timothy V. Dube, Ronnie Lidor, Gershon Tenenbaum and Andrew M. Lane

Sport researchers have considered the processes that elite athletes undergo to achieve positive psychological adaptation during significant chronic stressors throughout sport careers and also, acute stressors within important competitions. This review contains a description of competitive and organizational stressors that can hamper an elite athlete’s pursuit of adaptation within the aforementioned circumstances, followed by an identification of the responses that together can foster the desired outcome of adaptation. The authors propose that there are four parts that contribute to an elite athlete’s positive psychological adaptation, presented as parts of a process: (a) the appraisal of stressors, (b) coping strategies, (c) self-regulation strategies, and (d) a consolidated adaptation response. Subsequently, athlete adaptation is considered through examples taken from anecdotal literature and formal research studies pertaining to elite athlete adaptation. Implications are discussed for sport psychologists, mental training consultants, sport scientists, coaches, and athletes.