This study examined the use of four advanced psychological strategies (i.e., simulation training, cognitive restructuring, preperformance routines, and overlearning of skills) and subsequent competitive anxiety responses. Semistructured interviews were employed with eight highly elite athletes from a number of team and individual sports. Participants reported using each strategy to enable them to interpret their anxiety-response as facilitative to performance. Only cognitive restructuring and overlearning of skills were perceived by the participants to exert an influence over the intensity of cognitive symptoms experienced. The perceived causal mechanisms responsible for these effects included heightened attentional focus, increased effort and motivation, and perceived control over anxiety-related symptoms. These findings have implications for the practice of sport psychology with athletes debilitated by competitive anxiety in stressful situations.
Sheldon Hanton, Ross Wadey and Stephen D. Mellalieu
Leslie Podlog, Sophie M. Banham, Ross Wadey and James C. Hannon
The purpose of this study was to examine athlete experiences and understandings of psychological readiness to return to sport following a serious injury. A focus group and follow-up semistructured interviews were conducted with seven English athletes representing a variety of sports. Three key attributes of readiness were identified including: (a) confidence in returning to sport; (b) realistic expectations of one’s sporting capabilities; and (c) motivation to regain previous performance standards. Numerous precursors such as trust in rehabilitation providers, accepting postinjury limitations, and feeling wanted by significant others were articulated. Results indicate that psychological readiness is a dynamic, psychosocial process comprised of three dimensions that increase athletes’ perceived likelihood of a successful return to sport following injury. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research and practical implications are offered.
Brendan Cropley, Lee Baldock, Stephen D. Mellalieu, Rich Neil, Christopher Robert David Wagstaff and Ross Wadey
This study aimed to gain an insight into the general coping strategies used by sport psychology consultants (SPCs) based in the UK, and an in-depth understanding of their development and impact. To achieve these aims a mixed-method approach was adopted by means of two linked studies. In study one, BASES accredited and/or BPS chartered SPCs (n = 29) completed the modified COPE inventory (Crocker & Graham, 1995) to gain a better understanding of the general coping strategies used by practitioners. In study two, follow-up interviews (n = 6) with participants sampled from study one were conducted to explore how the reported strategies were developed, the perceived impact of coping/not coping with stressors, and how future SPCs may be better prepared for the stressful nature of consultancy. Findings suggested that the participants had a statistically significant preference to using problem-focused coping strategies. Further, the interviews suggested that coping strategies were primarily developed through reflection on experiences in different contexts. The impacts of coping/not coping and the practical development implications raised are discussed.
Ross Wadey, Kylie Roy-Davis, Lynne Evans, Karen Howells, Jade Salim and Ceri Diss
Despite recent conceptual, methodological, and theoretical advancements in sport-injury-related growth (SIRG), there is no research on sport psychology consultants’ (SPCs) experiential knowledge of working with injured athletes to facilitate SIRG. Toward this end, this study examined SPCs’ perspectives on facilitating SIRG to provide an evidence base for professional practice. Participants (4 female, 6 male; mean 19 years’ applied experience) were purposefully sampled and interviewed. Transcripts were thematically analyzed. Methodological rigor and generalizability were maximized through self-reflexivity and eliciting external reflections. Five themes were identified: Hear the Story, Contextualize the Story, Reconstruct the Story, Live the Story, and Share the Story. Findings offer practitioners a novel approach to working with injured athletes. Rather than focusing on returning to preinjury level of functioning, the findings illustrate how SPCs can work with injured athletes to help transform injury into an opportunity to bring about positive change.