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Ronald E. Smith

Although athletic burnout is a frequent topic of discussion and speculation, little in the way of a conceptual model or empirical data currently exists. An attempt is made to incorporate what is known about the nature, causes, and consequences of burnout within a cognitive-affective model of stress and to note the parallel situational, cognitive, physiologic, and behavioral components of stress and burnout. Thibaut and Kelley's social exchange model is used to define the conditions under which withdrawal from a sport can be attributed to burnout. Empirical findings concerning the causes and consequences of burnout derived from nonathletic populations are incorporated within the athletic burnout model, and its implications for preventing and coping with burnout are discussed. A number of conceptual and methodological issues are discussed, including operationalizing and measuring athletic burnout, the need for epidemiological research, and the assessment of causal and moderator variables. Based upon the literature on burnout in nonsport environments and the literature on sources and consequences of athletic stress, a number of testable hypotheses are advanced.

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Ronald E. Smith

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Ronald E. Smith

An important consideration in coping skills training is the extent to which acquired skills generalize to other life domains. For example, sport-oriented performance enhancement skills are often regarded as “life skills” that can also facilitate adaptation in other areas of life. Moreover, task-specific increases in self-efficacy produced by coping skills training could generalize to broader self-referent cognitive domains and affect global personality traits such as self-esteem and locus of control. The concept of generalization is analyzed, and factors and procedures that influence the strength and breadth of generalization effects are discussed. Several coping skills studies that address generalization effects of stress management and self-defense training are described, and the author suggests that generalization assessment should be a focal rather than incidental consideration when evaluating coping skills interventions.

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Ronald E. Smith

Advances in applied sport psychology will require the application of experimental, quasi-experimental, and nonexperimental research methodologies. The case study has stimulated important discoveries in many areas of psychology, although its limitations for drawing causal inferences are widely acknowledged. Case studies vary markedly in their design and methodology, however, and these differences dictate the extent to which alternative explanations can be ruled out on procedural or empirical grounds. The present article discusses design considerations that influence the construct validity, internal and external validity, and reliability of case reports. The application of techniques such as pattern matching, time-series analysis, and goal-attainment scaling to case study methodology is also described. Finally, guidelines for planning and reporting case studies in a manner that enhances their scientific and practical contributions are discussed.

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Ronald E. Smith and Jim Johnson

This article describes a psychological skills training program developed for the Houston Astros’ minor league player development program. It represents a mode of consultation that includes the training and supervising of an appropriate professional within the organization who delivers the actual training to the athletes. The goal is to provide a quality and continuity of services that would be difficult to accomplish using the traditional outside consultant model. Issues and problems that arose in the implementation of the program are discussed, and data derived from an evaluation of the program are presented.

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Ronald E. Smith and Donald S. Christensen

The role of physical and psychological skills as predictors of performance and survival in professional baseball was studied in a sample of 104 minor league baseball players. Psychological and physical skills were largely uncorrelated with one another and appear to be measuring separate and independent skill domains. Preseason scores on the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory (ACSI-28) and coaches’/managers’ ratings of the same skills on an ACSI Rating Form each accounted for as much performance variance in batting average (approximately 20%) as did physical skills when differences in the latter were statistically controlled, and the psychological measures accounted for substantially more variance in pitchers’ earned run averages than did the expert ratings of physical skills. The psychological skills measures also predicted athletes’ survival in professional baseball 2 and 3 years after they were obtained. Bayesian hit rate anlayses indicated substantially increased survival predictability over simple base rate predictions.

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Catarina Sousa, Ronald E. Smith and Jaume Cruz

Coach Effectiveness Training (CET) has been shown to have positive effects on a range of outcome variables, especially in young athletes (Smith & Smoll, 2005). Based on CET principles, and coupled with behavioral feedback, an individualized goal-setting intervention was developed and assessed using a replicated case study approach. Outcome variables included observed, athlete-perceived, and coach-perceived behaviors measured before the intervention and late in the season, as well as coaches’ evaluations of the intervention. Four soccer coaches selected three target behaviors that they wished to improve after viewing videotaped behavioral feedback. Behavioral assessment revealed that two of the coaches achieved positive changes on all three of their targeted behaviors. A third coach improved on two of the three targeted behaviors. The fourth coach did not achieve any of the established goals. We conclude that this approach is sufficiently promising to warrant additional research, and we discuss strengths and limitations of the study.

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Frank L. Smoll, Ronald E. Smith and Sean P. Cumming

Mastery-oriented motivational climates and achievement goal orientations have been associated with a range of salutary and clinically relevant outcomes in both educational and sport research. In view of this, an intervention was developed for youth sport coaches designed to promote a mastery motivational climate, and a field experiment was conducted to assess its effects on changes in athletes’ achievement goal orientations over the course of a sport season. The experimental group was comprised of 155 boys and girls, who played for 20 basketball coaches; 70 youngsters played for 17 control group coaches. The coach intervention resulted in higher Mastery-climate scores and lower Ego-climate scores compared with the control condition, and athletes who played for the trained coaches exhibited significant increases in Mastery goal orientation scores and significant decreases in Ego-orientation scores across the season, whereas control group participants did not. Practical and theoretical implications of the findings are discussed.

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Nancy P. Barnett, Frank L. Smoll and Ronald E. Smith

A field experiment was conducted to examine the impact of the Coach Effectiveness Training program on athlete attrition. Eight Little League Baseball coaches attended a preseason sport psychology workshop designed to facilitate desirable coach-athlete interactions. A no-treatment control group consisted of 10 coaches. Children who played for both groups of coaches were interviewed before and after the season and were contacted again the following year. At the end of the initial season, children in the experimental group evaluated their coaches, teammates, and the sport of baseball more positively than children who played for the control-group coaches. Player attrition was assessed at the beginning of the next baseball season, with control-group youngsters withdrawing at a significantly higher rate (26%) than those in the experimental group (5% dropout rate). There was no difference in mean team won-lost percentages between dropouts and returning players, which indicates that the attrition was not due to lack of team success.