This article describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a mental skills training program for a professional cricket team. Formally initiated in 1987, the educational philosophy and style of operation of this program has evolved to accommodate three other younger representative teams—students from a local cricket academy—in addition to the unique requirements of senior professionals in the state team. A mental skills workbook represents a key resource to the professional team in a service that remains strictly optional. A model of elite cricketer development is presented, and six key mental skill areas are described together with four groups of recurring problems. Good one-on-one skills, a flexible nonacademic style, and good observational abilities have helped to facilitate effective consulting. In addition, regular evaluation by athletes and an excellent working relationship with an enlightened coach has been critical to both program design and implementation.
Aditi Mankad and Sandy Gordon
Grief can be a common psychological characteristic of long-term injury, but few athletes are taught how to effectively deal with these intense emotions.
To examine the effectiveness of Pennebaker's standard writing paradigm in improving athletes' psychological response to injury after engaging in written disclosure.
Repeated-measures design with 6 data-collection time points.
9 elite long-term-injured athletes.
Measures and Intervention:
Participants were administered the Psychological Responses to Sport Injury Inventory and the Rehabilitation Beliefs Survey at 3 times preintervention and postintervention. Intervention comprised three 20-min writing sessions. Linguistic analyses were carried out using the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count to determine whether changes in word categories would be associated with postintervention changes in grief characteristics and rehabilitation-belief subscales.
There were significant differences in athletes' grief characteristics postintervention, with athletes feeling less devastated, dispirited, cheated, and restless by their injury and increasing the reorganization of their thoughts. Corresponding evidence from text analyses further supported these changes, with athletes linguistically demonstrating that they were actively working through their grief-related response using improved cognitive processing (F 2,16 = 5.15, P = .019, η2 = .39) and the disinhibition of positive and negative affect (F 2,16 = 4.05, P = .038, η2 = .34). There were no significant changes in athletes' rehabilitation beliefs, which remained high throughout the testing period.
Overall, the findings demonstrated that written emotional disclosure was effective in enhancing psychological rehabilitation by contributing to a greater personal understanding of the injury event and attenuating athletes' grief-related response.
Trish Gorely and Sandy Gordon
This study examined the structure of the transtheoretical model (TM) in exercise behavior change among adults age 50–65 years (n = 583). The purpose was to examine the relationship between stage of change and the constructs of processes of change, self-efficacy, and decisional balance. The results showed that 5 of the 10 processes of change, self-efficacy, and both pros and cons make significant and unique contributions to discrimination between the stages. Specifically, the use of the processes of change was shown to fluctuate across the stages, self-efficacy was shown to increase from precontemplation to maintenance, and the balance between pros and cons was shown to change from precontemplation to maintenance. The similarity of these results to previous literature suggests that the process of behavior change hypothesized within the TM holds across different age groups and cultures. Several implications for intervention design and suggestions for further research are discussed.
Ian W. Ford and Sandy Gordon
A two-part study was used to survey sport trainers and athletic therapists on both the frequency and significance of emotions and behaviors displayed by athletes during treatment and the importance of psychological techniques in injury management. A questionnaire, developed from a preliminary study with experienced sport trainers (Part 1), was mailed to sport trainers in Australia and New Zealand and athletic therapists in Canada(Part 2). Responses from Australian (n = 53), New Zealand (n = 11), and Canadian (n = 32) participants suggested that (a) wanting to return to play too soon, anxiety and frustration, noncompliance, and denial were experienced frequently by injured athletes during rehabilitation and significantly hindered effective recovery; (b) psychological skills training and learning to deal with psychological responses to injury would facilitate more effective treatment; and (c) athletes' self-presentation styles influence the support and attention received from trainers/therapists. Findings suggest that the applied sport psychology content of professional training programs for sport trainers and athletic therapists should be extended.
Daniel F. Gucciardi and Sandy Gordon
The performance profile technique (Butler, 1989, 1991), which stems from a personal construct psychology (PCP; Kelly, 1955/1991) framework, has become a useful methodology for identifying and understanding an athlete’s perceived need for areas of improvement. Despite the popularity of this technique, current descriptions and practices fail to appreciate key tenets of PCP which offer a greater insight into one’s perspective. Accordingly, the purposes of this paper are to revisit the performance profile technique and describe an extension of its current form by drawing on these key PCP tenets as well as providing an example of the revised methodology in practice. Following a brief overview of PCP, we outline two key tenets of this theoretical framework that have guided the revised version of the performance profile technique presented here. We conclude with a case example of the new methodology in practice using an Australian footballer’s perception of mental toughness.
Trish Gorely, Sandy Gordon and Ian Ford
Aditi Mankad, Sandy Gordon and Karen Wallman
Psychological trauma associated with long-term injury can cause athletes to experience intense stress-like symptoms and considerable negative affect (e.g., Tracey, 2003; Udry, 1997). Due to the nature of competitive sport, however, it is thought that injured athletes inhibit these emotions to the detriment of their physical health. The present study examined Pennebaker’s (1989) emotional disclosure paradigm within a sporting context. It was hypothesized that writing about a traumatic injury would reduce athletes’ mood disturbance and stress during rehabilitation. Further, it was believed that these changes would correspond with an increase in immune expression from pre- to postintervention. Elite injured athletes (N = 9) rehabilitating from anterior cruciate ligament surgery participated in the 3-day writing intervention, consisting of 3 X 20 min writing sessions, during which athletes disclosed negative emotions associated with their injury and rehabilitation experiences. Measures were taken at six time-points (T1-T6), with pre- and postintervention phases lasting for 4 weeks each. Measures consisted of psychological stress (intrusion and avoidance), total mood disturbance, and relative cell-counts/µL for circulating T-cells (CD4/8) and NK cells (CD16/56). Repeated-measures ANOVAs showed a signifcant main effect of time for intrusion, F(5, 70) = 5.83, p =.001, η2 = .29 and avoidance, F(5, 70) = 5.73, p =.002, η2 = 0.29 subscales; mood disturbance, F(5, 70) = 3.71, p= 0.005, η2 = 0.21; and CD4+, F(5, 65) = 2.39, p= 0.048, η2 = .16. Subsequent linear contrasts provided further evidence of significant prepost differences among the stress, mood state, and immune variables. These results suggest that the written disclosure intervention has potential psycho-immunological benefits for athletes rehabilitating from long-term injury.
Ian W. Ford and Sandy Gordon
Aditi Mankad, Sandy Gordon and Karen Wallman
The present study features a psycholinguistic analysis, using Pennebaker’s (1989) emotional disclosure paradigm, of an athlete’s experience in recovering from injury. “GL,” a male athlete rehabilitating from anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, participated in a 9-week testing protocol. A 3-day intervention was used, consisting of three 20-minute writing sessions, which promoted disclosure of negative emotions associated with injury and rehabilitation. In addition, measures of stress, mood disturbance, and self-esteem were administered from pre- to postintervention and at follow-up. Results revealed decreases in stress and mood disturbance, as well as an increase in self-esteem. Analysis of writing samples revealed increased use of linguistic markers indicating affective awareness. Findings also highlighted the importance of emotional disclosure and cognitive integration in reducing stress and enhancing understanding of injury.