The purpose of this paper is to share and reflect on personal experiences of providing sport psychology support to an international lacrosse squad during their World Cup participation. Based on the needs analysis assessments from observation reports and informal communications, key areas of support included: (1) creating structure and routine, (2) facilitating team reflections, (3) goal setting, (4) game preparation, and (5) providing off-field support. Working with this team exposed the dynamic nature of sport psychology consultancy, and the unpredictability of what is required from a team in a high-performance setting. Individual consultancy through informal communications with players signaled the importance of supporting the person beyond their role as an athlete. Team-level support via group workshop sessions was predominantly performance-related, and required the adoption of solution-focused approaches given the time pressure on strategies to be effective. The support facilitated team organization and preparation, which enabled players to be both mentally and physically ready for each game. Establishing stable routines, game plans, and clear goals, and having adequate reflection and feedback time were reported by the players as important facets of their World Cup experience and success.
Philippa McGregor and Stacy Winter
Stacy Winter and Dave Collins
Priming has recently emerged in the literature as offering advantages in the preparation for skilled performance. Accordingly, the current study tested the efficacy of imagery against a priming paradigm as a means of enhancing motor performance: in essence, contrasting a preparation technique primarily under the conscious control of the performer to an unconscious technique promoting automaticity. The imagery intervention was guided by the PETTLEP model, while the priming intervention took the form of a scrambled sentence task. Eighteen skilled field-hockey players performed a dribbling task under imagery, priming, skill-focus, and control conditions. Results revealed a significant improvement in speed and technical accuracy for the imagery condition as opposed to the skill-focus, control, and priming conditions. In addition, there were no significant differences in performance times or technical accuracy between the priming and control conditions. The study provides further support for the efficacy of imagery to elicit enhanced motor skill performance but questions the emerging emphasis on priming as an effective tool in preparation for physical tasks.
Suzie Godfrey and Stacy Winter
This paper presents a reflective account of the sport psychology support work delivered across one season at a professional football academy by a neophyte practitioner. The development of the sport psychology program, referred to as Winning Mentality, was guided by Harwood and Anderson's (2015) 5C guidelines to psychological skills training.The Winning Mentality program outlined within this paper was delivered to the U9-U12 age groups and focused on the three key topics: (1) growth mind-set; (2) emotional control; and (3) confidence.The intervention comprised predominantly of classroom-based workshops delivered at the team level that focused on one topic per training cycle. Working with these young age groups uncovered a number of challenges that form the basis of this reflective account.Drawing upon child developmental literature was a necessity to ensure the effective matching of session content to the relevant age group. In addition, the heavily classroom-based nature of the program limited the youth footballers application of sport psychology techniques on the football pitch.Finally, opportunities to empower coaches with the knowledge and skills to apply psychological concepts within their training sessions should be welcomed.
Hannah Cooper and Stacy Winter
Disordered eating is a psychological ailment that befalls many athletes and can persist into retirement. Links have been established between disordered eating and societal and sport-specific pressures; however, little research has focused on the perspective of retired athletes in a time-based sport. The purpose of the current research was to explore the conceptualization of disordered eating in relation to swimming participation, how retirement affects eating patterns, and ways to mitigate disordered eating. Following IPA methodological guidelines, a homogeneous sample of retired swimmers (N = 6) was chosen for semistructured, participant-driven interviews determined by scores on a disordered-eating questionnaire. Three superordinate themes were revealed: (1) pressures unique to swimming, (2) transition to eating pattern awareness, and (3) maintaining ideal eating patterns in retirement. The results revealed a combination of novel findings and expansion of previous data on disordered eating. Suggestions for applications of current findings and for future research are also discussed.
Stacy Winter and David J. Collins
Although the field of applied sport psychology has developed, it faces further challenges on its way toward gaining greater professional status. The following principal criteria of professionalism are proposed as a test of such status: (a) provides an important public service, (b) has a knowledge-base underpinning, (c) has organizational regulation, (d) has a distinct ethical dimension, and (e) has professional autonomy. This article undertakes to explore the nature of implications for practice and the extent to which the suggested principal criteria justify a distinctive applied sport psychology profession. In doing so, we hope to stimulate debate on these and other issues in order that an even greater professionalization of our applied discipline may emerge.
Emily A. Martin, Stacy Winter, and Tim Holder
Observation provides applied sport psychologists with a direct assessment of client behavior within the sporting environment. Despite the unique properties and the insightful information that observation allows, it has received limited literary attention within the applied sport psychology domain. The current study aimed to explore and further understand the observation practices of current trainee practitioners. All participants were enrolled on a training program toward becoming either a chartered psychologist (BPS) or an accredited sport and exercise scientist (BASES). In total, five focus groups were conducted and analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA; Smith, 1996). Four superordinate themes emerged: value of observation, type of observation, challenges of observation, and suggestions for observation training. Results demonstrate the increased value that observation brings to effective service delivery and intervention. Specifically, informal observation is commended for its propensity to build greater contextual intelligence and to develop stronger client relationships.
Stephen Pack, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Stacy Winter, and Brian Hemmings
Previous research demonstrates that sport psychology consultants use humor to facilitate working alliances, reinforce client knowledge, and create healthy learning environments. The current study sought to gain further insights into consultants’ reflections on the role of humor, humor styles, purposes for humor, and experiences of humor use. Forty-eight sport psychology consultants completed an online survey comprising open-ended questions. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: “It’s the way I tell ’em,” “It’s the way I don’t tell ’em,” “This is why I tell ’em,” and learning to use humor in consultancy. Participants used 2 styles of humor (deadpan and self-deprecating), each with the goal of facilitating the working alliance. Although not all participants used humor during consultancy, its incorporation might render the working alliance and real relationship as resources in ways (e.g., a “barometer” that predicts consultancy outcomes) previously not considered in applied sport psychology.