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Stewart Cotterill

The ability to prepare effectively to execute complex skills under pressure is crucial in a number of performance-focused professions. While there is emerging evidence of best practice little research has sought to compare preparation strategies across professions. As a result, the aim of this research was to explore the approaches employed within a number of professions and whether there are similarities in the techniques and strategies adopted. Participants were 18 “performers,” purposefully selected from sporting, musical, performing arts, and medical domains. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of each participant’s preparation strategies and the functions these strategies fulfilled. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results suggest that there are similarities in both behavioral and mental strategies adopted across professions. Future research should seek to explore the transferability of developmental approaches.

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Stewart Cotterill

Effective leadership in sport at the elite level can make the difference between success and failure. However, although the importance of leadership is acknowledged there is little published evidence regarding how the required skills could or should be developed. The current case study reports the implementation of a leadership development program with elite professional cricketers. The intervention itself was focused at three levels: (a) captaincy development, (b) leadership skill development, and (c) personal growth and leadership development. Program effectiveness was determined through the feedback provided by the individual players on the program, the reflections of the sport psychology consultant, and feedback from the professional staff. Evaluation and reflection of the program suggest that a formal development program can be both beneficial and impactful in enhancing the leadership capabilities of elite players.

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Stewart Cotterill

While there have been increasing opportunities for sport psychology practitioners in cricket, there are concerns regarding employment practices in the field and the knock-on impact on the practitioners. The aim of this research was to explore the experiences, reflections, challenges, and opportunities perceived by practitioners regarding their own roles delivering sport psychology in elite cricket. Participants were 12 sport psychology practitioners (8 male and 4 female) purposively selected based on their experience working in cricket. Participants were interviewed to gain an understanding of their experiences working as sport psychology practitioners. The data were thematically analyzed, resulting in the emergence of 7 higher order themes: the role, perceptions of the psychologist, consultation approach, limiting factors, first-team environment, challenges faced, and proposed changes. Results suggest that there are similarities in the challenges experienced across professional clubs and at different levels in cricket. Broader challenges for the clubs, the national governing body, and the sport psychology profession also emerged.

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Stewart T. Cotterill and Robert J. Schinke

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Stewart Cotterill, Richard Cheetham and Katrien Fransen

The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of the coach in relation to the perceived function of captains in professional rugby union. Participants were eight elite male rugby coaches purposefully sampled for this study. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions of the role of the captain. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Ten super-ordinate themes emerged in the study: types of captain, captain development, challenges, captains role, off field responsibilities, nature of the job, selection, cultural architects, coach-captain relationship, and key attributes. Results suggest coaches view the captain as an extension of their authority in the team, leadership groups are increasingly important to support captains, and that the criteria for the selection of captains is still vague. As a result, future research should explore the development of specific evidence-based approaches to captain selection and development.

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Stewart T. Cotterill, Robert J. Schinke and Richard Thelwell

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Emma C. Neupert, Stewart T. Cotterill and Simon A. Jobson

Purpose: Poor athlete buy-in and adherence to training-monitoring systems (TMS) can be problematic in elite sport. This is a significant issue, as failure to record, interpret, and respond appropriately to negative changes in athlete well-being and training status may result in undesirable consequences such as maladaptation and/or underperformance. This study examined the perceptions of elite athletes to their TMS and their primary reasons for noncompletion. Methods: Nine national-team sprint athletes participated in semistructured interviews on their perceptions of their TMS. Interview data were analyzed qualitatively, based on grounded theory, and TMS adherence information was collected. Results: Thematic analysis showed that athletes reported their main reason for poor buy-in to TMS was a lack of feedback on their monitoring data from key staff. Furthermore, training modifications made in response to meaningful changes in monitoring data were sometimes perceived to be disproportionate, resulting in dishonest reporting practices. Conclusions: Perceptions of opaque or unfair decision making on training-program modifications and insufficient feedback were the primary causes for poor athlete TMS adherence. Supporting TMS implementation with a behavioral-change model that targets problem areas could improve buy-in and enable limited resources to be appropriately directed.

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Steve M. Smith, Stewart T. Cotterill and Hazel Brown

Athletes’ practice environment can influence their competitive performance. The influencing performance factors present in practice are understudied, and the aim of this study was to explore these factors. Using a case-study approach, the authors investigated a basketball practice environment to reveal influencing performance factors. Participants were 15 members of a U.K. Elite Academy Basketball League team based in a sixth-form college (equivalent to American high school age) that included 10 players, 2 coaches, 1 strength and conditioning coach, 1 academic teacher, and the head of sport (mean age 21.8 yr). A case-study approach was adopted to collect data from interviews, focus groups, and direct observations to provide a holistic assessment of the practice environment. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, which revealed 6 overarching themes: effort, status, individuality, preparation, team drive, and practice vision. Data analysis exposed several themes of influencing performance factors unreported in previous literature, suggesting that practice environments should be viewed as a stand-alone field of investigative enquiry. The results from this study provide a much-needed foray into the psychological influences of practice and give practitioners the opportunity to reflect on the results against their own practice environments.