This paper presents a case study of an elite female coach and her career termination from a 20+ year career following a critical life incident. A novel autobiographical approach was adopted whereby the participant undertook expressive writing to describe her experiences before, during, and following coaching an athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Thematic analysis indicated seven phases related to the participant’s experiences of the critical incident: Build up to the event, the event, the aftermath, recovery and reflection on the event, sampling of new avenues, enlightenment, and career rebirth. The findings reinforce the high demands placed upon elite coaches, the subsequent threats to physical and mental well-being, and the importance of having robust psychological skills and suitable social support to cope with these demands. Implications for preparing and supporting coaches for successful career transition are discussed.
Göran Kenttä, Stephen Mellalieu and Claire-Marie Roberts
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.
Stephen Mellalieu, David A. Shearer and Catherine Shearer
Interpersonal conflict is a common factor reported by governing bodies and their athletes when preparing for, or competing in, major games and championships (Olusoga, Butt, Hays, & Maynard, 2009). The aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary exploration of a UK home nation’s athletes, management, and support staff experiences of interpersonal conflict during competition. Ninety participants who had represented or worked for their nation at major games or championships completed a detailed survey of interpersonal conflict experiences associated with competition. The results suggest athletes, coaches, and team managers are at the greatest risk from interpersonal conflict, while the competition venue and athlete village are where the most incidences of conflict occur. Interpersonal conflict was also suggested to predominantly lead to negative cognitive, affective, and behavioral consequences (disagreement, anger, upset, loss in concentration). Findings are discussed in the context of the experience of the interpersonal conflict with provisional recommendations offered for developing effective strategies for conflict management.
Stephen D. Mellalieu and Scott W. Juniper
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mickaël Campo, Stephen Mellalieu, Claude Ferrand, Guillaume Martinent and Elisabeth Rosnet
This study systematically reviewed the literature on the emotional processes associated with performance in team contact sports. To consider the entire emotional spectrum, Lazarus’s (1999) cognitive motivational relational theory was used as a guiding framework. An electronic search of the literature identified 48 of 5,079 papers as relevant. Anxiety and anger were found to be the most common emotions studied, potentially due to the combative nature of team contact sports. The influence of group processes on emotional experiences was also prominent. The findings highlight the need to increase awareness of the emotional experience in team contact sports and to develop emotion-specific regulation strategies. Recommendations for future research include exploring other emotions that might emerge from situations related to collisions (e.g., fright) and emotions related to relationships with teammates (e.g., guilt and compassion).
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.
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.