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Robert Schinke and Zella E. Moore

Sport psychologists work with athletes from a vast array of cultural backgrounds. Numerous factors comprise the cultural composition of both the client and the practitioner, including, though not necessarily limited to, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and status, race, socialization, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and geographic location. These intersecting and often deeply ingrained personal variables can certainly impact the nature of the therapeutic relationship, intervention strategies, and intervention outcomes with athletic clientele. Yet, while other domains of professional psychology have long embraced the integration of cultural aspects, the field of sport psychology has been slow to join the dialogue or to learn from these relevant sources. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed with the intention of opening these lines of discussion to help ensure that sport psychologists are gaining a comprehensive understanding of the athletes with whom they work, demonstrating respect for and integration of cultural constructs in the treatment room, and maintaining personal and professional self-awareness. As Co-Editors of this unique special issue, Drs. Robert Schinke and Zella Moore provide the present paper to begin this important dialogue. This paper sets the stage for six informative articles by leading professionals in their areas, including both theoretical articles and articles highlighting culturally informed direct service provision with athletes from around the world. We hope that this timely special issue leads to numerous additional questions, cutting-edge research ideas, and most importantly, an enhanced or renewed commitment from sport psychologists to integrate the concepts found within these pages, and those already found within the professional literature of mainstream psychology, into their daily work with athletes.

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Stewart T. Cotterill and Robert J. Schinke

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Robert J. Schinke, Gershon Tenenbaum, Ronnie Lidor and Andrew M. Lane

Within this opportunity to dialogue in commentary exchange about a previously conceived adaptation model, published in the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, we revisit the utility of our model (Schinke et al., 2012a) and consider Tamminen and Crocker’s (2014) critique of our earlier writing. We also elaborate on emotion and emotion regulation through explaining hedonistic and instrumental motives to regulate emotions. We draw on research from general and sport psychology to examine emotion regulation (Gross, 2010). We argue that when investigating emotion, or any topic in psychology, the process of drawing from knowledge in a different area of the discipline can be useful, especially if the existing knowledge base in that area is already well developed. In particular, we draw on research using an evolutionary perspective (Nesse & Ellsworth, 2009). Accounting for these issues, we clarify the adaptation framework, expand it, and arguably offer a model that has greater utility for use with athletes in relation to training and competition cycles and progressions throughout their career. We also clarify for the readership places of misinterpretation by the commentary authors, and perhaps, why these have resulted.

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Alain P. Gauthier, Robert J. Schinke and Patricia Pickard

This study addresses the development of adaptation techniques in one northern Canadian region based on the views of 14 National and International elite coaches. Respondents were from nine different sports and averaged 17.1 yrs of accumulated coaching experience (Range: 8-30 yrs). Data were gathered chronologically using structured open-ended questionnaires, focus groups, and afterwards, follow-up in-depth semi-structured interviews. Content was analyzed to uncover emergent themes. The respondents indicated that elite coaches from their region learn adaptation by (a) cooperating, (b) reframing positively, and (c) coping with their limitations. Further, the respondents elucidated how they use geographical limitations to teach two context specific adaptation skills to aspiring athletes and coaches: (a) psychological adaptation and (b) physical adaptation. Generic coaching strategies across geographical regions are questioned and suggestions regarding elite coaching in small communities are provided.

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Gershon Tenenbaum, Andrew Lane, Selen Razon, Ronnie Lidor and Robert Schinke

We introduce a two-perception probabilistic concept of adaptation (TPPCA), which accounts for fast and slow adaptation processes. The outcome of both processes depends on the perceptual difference (termed herein a quantum) of how an individual perceives his or her abilities, skills, and capacities (βv) to interact, cope, and perform a given task (δi). Thus, the adaptation process is determined by (βv – δi). Fast adaptation processes target aspects that require immediate responses while slow adaptation processes involve ongoing adaptation to long-term demands. We introduce the TPPCA in several domains of inquiry, which rely on fast adaptation processes (perceptual–cognitive–action coupling, performance routines, psychological crisis, reversal states), slow adaptation processes (i.e., career aspirations, burnout), and processes that can be either fast or slow (i.e., flow, affect and mood changes, emotion regulation).

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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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Lael Gershgoren, Edson Medeiros Filho, Gershon Tenenbaum and Robert J. Schinke

This study was aimed at capturing the components comprising shared mental models (SMM) and the training methods used to address SMM in one athletic program context. To meet this aim, two soccer coaches from the same collegiate program were interviewed and observed extensively during practices and games throughout the 2009–2010 season. In addition, documents (e.g., players’ positioning on free kicks sheet) from the soccer program were reviewed. The data were analyzed inductively through a thematic analysis to develop models that operationalize SMM through its components, and training. Game intelligence and game philosophy were the two main operational themes defining SMM. Moreover, four themes emerged for SMM training: (a) the setting, (b) compensatory communication, (c) reinforcement, and (d) instruction. SMM was embedded within a more comprehensive conceptual framework of team chemistry, including emotional, social, and cognitive dimensions. Implications of these conceptual frameworks are considered for sport psychologists and coaches.

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Edson Filho, Lael Gershgoren, Itay Basevitch, Robert Schinke and Gershon Tenenbaum

The present study was an initial attempt to capture and describe instances of shared mental models within a team from the point of view of the team captain. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to describe a range of perceived and shared behaviors aimed at facilitating the overall performance of a college volleyball team from the perspective of the team captain. This behavioral focus is congruent with the need for documenting observable task and team-related coordination mechanisms. Symbolic interactionism, via the use of systematic observations, documental analysis, and semistructured open-ended interviews, was used to gather data from the participant in the form of a case study. Data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) theoretical thematic analysis based on categories derived from Eccles and Tenenbaum’s (2004) Conceptual Framework of Coordination in Sport Teams. Results indicated that the player’s actions were perceived as enhancing proactive information sharing within her team. Therefore, it is suggested that team leaders possess important objective and symbolic roles in the promotion of shared mental models. These results are further discussed in relation to current knowledge of shared mental models in sports. Limitations and directions for future research are outlined.

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Stewart T. Cotterill, Robert J. Schinke and Richard Thelwell

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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.