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Leonardo Ruiz, Judy L. Van Raalte, Thaddeus France and Al Petitpas

More than 1,400 Latin American professional baseball players, age 16-21, are employed by 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) academies in the Dominican Republic. The popular press has highlighted scandals related to professional youth baseball player recruitment, selection, and exploitation in the academies, but little attention has been given to the academy experiences of youth baseball players from the perspective of the players themselves. For this research, 11 professional baseball players residing at an MLB Academy in the Dominican Republic participated in semi-structured interviews. Players described their transitions into the baseball academy system, their experiences in the academy, and their perceptions and expectations upon leaving or being released from the academy. Themes that emerged from the data included athletes’ hopes and dreams, stress, faith, and career transitions. Clinical implications of these findings for sport psychology practitioners are discussed.

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Annamari Maaranen, Erica G. Beachy, Judy L. Van Raalte, Britton W. Brewer, Thaddeus J. France and Albert J. Petitpas

Mental blocks, phenomena in which athletes lose the ability to perform previously automatic skills, are well known but poorly understood. Study 1 was designed to assess mental blocks in gymnastics and determine if such blocks are distinct from related conditions, such as slumps, choking, and fear of injury. Mental blocks were reported to have unique characteristics and to affect backward moving skills. Study 2 was a qualitative analysis of the experiences of 5 gymnasts currently experiencing mental blocks on backward moving skills. Such block is called flikikammo and was described as cycling on and off, spreading to other events and skills, affecting visualization, and worsening when performance of the affected skills was forced by coaches. The findings are the first to detail the experience of gymnasts currently experiencing the condition. Additional research may help identify ways to alleviate and/or prevent flikikammo.