This study explored the phenomenon of the role episode in sport. Performance profiles and interviews were conducted with 11 male collegiate soccer players to identify the factors that contributed to the formation of positive perceptions of role states and the consequences for the individual and team. Role clarity developed via a combination of learning through implicit experiences in the sport and explicit instruction from role senders. Role acceptance formed through the focal person’s perceptions of the assigned performance role and the role sender. Positive perceptions of role states were suggested to improve performance by enhancing individual and group-related variables, including role satisfaction, group cohesion, and collective efficacy. The findings highlight the significance of understanding the factors that contribute to a positive role episode in sport and present implications for future team-building interventions.
A Qualitative Investigation into Experiences of the Role Episode in Soccer
Stephen D. Mellalieu and Scott W. Juniper
Mental Imagery in Athletes with Visual Impairments
Kate A.T. Eddy and Stephen D. Mellalieu
The purpose of this study was to investigate imagery experiences in performers with visual impairments. Structured, in-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with six elite goalball athletes regarding the processing and use of mental images in training and competition. Interview transcripts were analyzed using deductive and inductive procedures and revealed four general dimensions describing the athletes’ uses of imagery. Participants reported using imagery for cognitive and motivational purposes in both training and competition. Imagery was also suggested to be utilized from an internal perspective with the processing of images derived from a range of modalities. The findings suggest that visual impairment does not restrict the ability to use mental imagery and that psychological interventions can be expanded to include the use of all the athletes’ sensory modalities.
Emotional Labeling and Competitive Anxiety in Preparation and Competition
Stephen D. Mellalieu, Sheldon Hanton, and Graham Jones
The purpose of this study was to extend the work of Jones and Hanton (2001) by examining differences in affective states of performers who reported facilitating or debilitating interpretations of symptoms associated with precompetitive anxiety. Competitive athletes (N = 229) completed state and trait versions of the CSAI-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990), including intensity and direction subscales (Jones & Swain, 1992) and an exploratory measure of precompetitive affective responses in preparation and competition. “Facilitators” reported significantly greater positive labeling of affective experiences than “debilitators,” while cognitive interpretations of symptoms were reported to change with regard to preparation for and actual performance. The findings further support the need to examine the labeling and measurement of precompetitive affective states.
Advanced Psychological Strategies and Anxiety Responses in Sport
Sheldon Hanton, Ross Wadey, and Stephen D. Mellalieu
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.
A Longitudinal Examination of Stress and Mental Ill-/Well-Being in Elite Football Coaches
Lee Baldock, Brendan Cropley, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and Rich Neil
A novel concurrent, independent mixed-methods research design was adopted to explore elite association football coaches’ stress and mental ill-/well-being experiences over the course of an entire season. Elite coaches (N = 18) completed measures of perceived stressor severity, coping effectiveness, and mental ill-/well-being, with a sample (n = 8) also participating in semistructured interviews, across four time points. Linear mixed-model and retroductive analyses revealed (a) lower mental well-being at the beginning of the season due to negative appraisals/responses to stressors and ineffective coping attempts, (b) higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at the end of the season, (c) stressors high in severity led to decreased mental well-being (unless coaches coped effectively) and increased symptoms associated with burnout, and (d) ineffective coping attempts led to increased emotional exhaustion. These findings offer novel insight into the specific components of elite football coaches’ stress experiences influencing their mental ill-/well-being over time.
Stress and Mental Well-Being Experiences of Professional Football Coaches
Lee Baldock, Brendan Cropley, Rich Neil, and Stephen D. Mellalieu
The stress experiences and their impact upon the daily lives and mental well-being of English Premier League professional (soccer) football coaches were explored using an in-depth qualitative design. Eight participants were interviewed using a semi-structured approach with thematic and causal network analysis revealing that (a) a range of contextually dependent demands were experienced and interpreted in relation to their situational properties; (b) many demands were appraised and emotionally responded to in a negative manner; (c) a range of coping strategies were adopted to cope with stress experiences, with many reported as ineffective; and (d) stress experiences often led to negative implications for their daily lives and eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. Positive adaptations to some demands experienced were reported and augmented perceptions of mental well-being. The findings of this study make a novel and significant contribution to understanding the interrelationships between the principal components of the stress process and the prospective links between stress and mental well-being.
Continued Participation of Adolescent Males in Rugby Union: Stakeholders’ Perspectives
Paul A. Sellars, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and Camilla J. Knight
This study explored stakeholders’ perceptions of Welsh adolescent participation in rugby union. A Straussian grounded-theory approach was adopted and data collection was conducted via semistructured interviews with 15 individuals involved in Welsh adolescent rugby union. Data were analyzed through open and axial coding procedures and theoretical integration. Stakeholders perceived that continued rugby participation resulted from a positive evaluation of one’s participation in the sport and one’s ability to cope with the demands experienced throughout transitions during adolescence. Overall, the findings provide a substantive grounded theory of stakeholders’ perceptions of continued adolescent participation in Welsh rugby union, and applied implications, in an aim to promote continued sport participation.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Study of an Elite Rifle Shooter
David A. Shearer, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and Catherine R. Shearer
While posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is most commonly associated with survivors of traumatic events (e.g., combat), PTSD can occur after any situation in which victims perceive that their life or safety is threatened. In sport, athletes often place themselves in dangerous situations and are also exposed to the same lifestyle dangers as the general population. The literature on PTSD among athletes is sparse, and consequently, it is possible that many (non-clinical) sport psychologists would fail to recognize the symptoms and may subsequently fail to refer the athlete to the appropriate professional for clinical assistance. In the following case study, we present an example of an athlete suffering from PTSD following a serious bicycle accident in which she sustained head and facial injuries. We briefly detail the nature of PTSD and discuss how sport psychology services can be implemented alongside a parallel clinical intervention program. Finally, we offer recommendations for practice when working with athletes with PTSD.
Observation Interventions as a Means to Manipulate Collective Efficacy in Groups
Adam M. Bruton, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and David A. Shearer
The purpose of this multistudy investigation was to examine observation as an intervention for the manipulation of individual collective efficacy beliefs. Study 1 compared the effects of positive, neutral, and negative video footage of practice trials from an obstacle course task on collective efficacy beliefs in assigned groups. The content of the observation intervention (i.e., positive, neutral, and negative video footage) significantly influenced the direction of change in collective efficacy (p < .05). Study 2 assessed the influence of content familiarity (own team/sport vs. unfamiliar team/sport) on individual collective efficacy perceptions when observing positive footage of competitive basketball performance. Collective efficacy significantly increased for both the familiar and unfamiliar conditions postintervention, with the largest increase for the familiar condition (p < .05). The studies support the use of observation as an intervention to enhance individual perceptions of collective efficacy in group-based activities. The findings suggest that observations of any group displaying positive group characteristics are likely to increase collective efficacy beliefs; however, observation of one’s own team leads to the greatest increases.
Coping With the Demands of Professional Practice: Sport Psychology Consultants’ Perspectives
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.