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Robert J. Schinke, Randy C. Battochio, Timothy V. Dube, Ronnie Lidor, Gershon Tenenbaum and Andrew M. Lane

Sport researchers have considered the processes that elite athletes undergo to achieve positive psychological adaptation during significant chronic stressors throughout sport careers and also, acute stressors within important competitions. This review contains a description of competitive and organizational stressors that can hamper an elite athlete’s pursuit of adaptation within the aforementioned circumstances, followed by an identification of the responses that together can foster the desired outcome of adaptation. The authors propose that there are four parts that contribute to an elite athlete’s positive psychological adaptation, presented as parts of a process: (a) the appraisal of stressors, (b) coping strategies, (c) self-regulation strategies, and (d) a consolidated adaptation response. Subsequently, athlete adaptation is considered through examples taken from anecdotal literature and formal research studies pertaining to elite athlete adaptation. Implications are discussed for sport psychologists, mental training consultants, sport scientists, coaches, and athletes.

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Kevin A. Ball, Russell J. Best and Tim V. Wrigley

Research into the relationship between body sway, aim-point fluctuation, and performance in pistol shooting has been inconclusive. The present study reex-amined this relationship on an interindividual basis, as done in previous studies, and via intraindividual analysis, not previously examined. Five elite pistol shooters performed 20 shots similar to competition conditions. For each shot, body-sway parameters and aim-point fluctuation parameters were quantified for the time period 1 s to shot. An AMTI LG6-4 force plate was used to measure body-sway parameters, while a SCATT shooting analysis system was used to measure aim-point fluctuation and shooting performance. Multiple regression analysis indicated that body sway was related to performance for one shooter, aim-point fluctuation was related to performance for three shooters, and body sway was related to aim-point fluctuation for four shooters. These relationships were specific to the individual, with the strength of association and parameters of importance being different for different shooters. However, interindividual analysis indicated that only aim-point fluctuation was related to performance. It was concluded that body sway, aim-point fluctuation, and performance are important in elite level pistol shooting, and performance errors at the elite level are individual-specific. Individual analysis should be a priority when examining elite level sports performance.

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David Docherty and Matthew J. Hodgson

Recently there has been considerable interest and research into the functional significance of postactivation potentiation (PAP) on sport performance. The interest has evolved around the potential for enhancing acute performance or the long-term training effect, typically in the form of complex training. Complex training usually involves performing a weight-training exercise with high loads before executing a plyometric exercise with similar biomechanical demands. Despite a considerable amount of research in the past 10 years it would seem there is still much research to be done to fully determine whether PAP has a functional role and, if so, how to best exploit it. It is clear from the research that there are many factors that need to be considered when attempting to apply PAP to an athlete. It is possible that a well-conceived sport-specific warm-up might be as or more effective in enhancing acute performance and easier to apply in a practical setting. In addition, despite its current popularity, there has not been 1 study that has effectively examined the efficacy of complex training and whether it has any advantage over other forms of training that combine weight training and plyometrics but not in the same training session.

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Anne-Claire Macquet

This article reports on time management in an elite sports context. It aims at characterizing how coaches experience dealing with athletes’ time management in a sport and academic institute and their constraints. Ten male coaches participated in this study. Each coach was asked to describe his time management activity during the season. Inductive and deductive analysis revealed two main results. The first showed the coaches dealt with a stringent set of constraints concerned with: (a) season organization, (b) training period and task sequencing, (c) the institute’s set times, and (d) the uncertainty linked to the evolution of training. The second emphasized that the coaches used three complex operating modes: (a) the use of organizational routines based on reference to past experience, (b) season shared time management, and (c) time management based on flexible plans. The results are discussed in relation to research that has considered planning and time management.

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Marco Cardinale and Julie A. Erskine

The use of vibration as a training intervention has been suggested for more than a decade. Following the initial promising studies, a large number of investigations have been conducted to understand the acute and chronic effects of this novel training modality mainly using special populations, sedentary, physically active, and aged individuals. There is a small number of studies involving athletes. For this reason it is at the moment very difficult to provide safe and effective training guidelines to athletes. We discuss the current findings related to the effectiveness on elite athletes and provide some guidance on practical applications. Vibration is without a doubt an interesting intervention; however, more needs to be done to understand the physiological mechanisms involved in the adaptive responses to vibration exercise. Furthermore, more studies are needed to establish a dose-response relationship to vibration training to provide indications on safe and effective vibration training prescriptions.

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Ken Hodge, Graham Henry and Wayne Smith

This case study focused on the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team during the period from 2004 to 2011, when Graham Henry (head coach) and Wayne Smith (assistant coach) coached and managed the team. More specifically, this case study examined the motivational climate created by this coaching group that culminated in winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011. In-depth interviews were completed with Henry and Smith in March 2012. A collaborative thematic content analysis revealed eight themes, regarding motivational issues and the motivational climate for the 2004–2011 All Blacks team: (i) critical turning point, (ii) flexible and evolving, (iii) dual-management model, (iv) “Better People Make Better All Blacks,” (v) responsibility, (vi) leadership, (vii) expectation of excellence, and (viii) team cohesion. These findings are discussed in light of autonomy-supportive coaching, emotionally intelligent coaching, and transformational leadership. Finally, practical recommendations are offered for coaches of elite sports teams.

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Ken Hodge and Wayne Smith

This case study focused on pressure, stereotype threat, choking, and the coping experiences of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team during the period from 2004-2011 leading into their success at the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). Employing a narrative approach this case study examined public expectation, pressure, and coach-led coping strategies designed to “avoid the choke” by the All Blacks team. An in-depth interview was completed with one of the All Blacks’ coaches and analyzed via collaborative thematic analysis (Riessman, 2008). In addition multiple secondary data sources (e.g., coach & player autobiographies; media interviews) were analyzed via holistic-content analysis (Lieblich et al., 1998). Collectively these analyses revealed five key themes: public expectation and pressure, learning from 2007 RWC, coping with RWC pressure, decision-making under pressure, and avoiding the choke. Practical recommendations are offered for team sport coaches with respect to coping with pressure and avoiding choking.

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Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek

Coaching is characterized by an inherent pathos between the goals coaches hope to accomplish and those that are realized (Jones & Wallace, 2005). Coaches can actively enhance the likelihood of optimal outcomes through orchestration, a process of incremental coping intended to create improvement in performance (Jones & Wallace, 2005). The current study explored to what extent pathos also manifests in the lives of elite athletes and whether they engage in processes consistent with orchestration. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. Primarily deductive analysis of the qualitative data provided confirmation for four domains: (a) sources of ambiguity created by coaches, (b) other sources of ambiguity within student-athletes’ experiences, (c) attempted strategies for orchestrating the pathos, and (d) relationships are crucial for navigating the pathos. The findings potentially offer an approach to understanding the challenges athletes face, which allows coaches to more accurately provide assistance.

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Matt D. Hoffmann, Todd M. Loughead and Gordon A. Bloom

The general objective of the current study was to explore the experiences of elite level athletes who reported being peer mentored by other athletes during their sporting careers. The primary purpose was to identify the mentoring functions provided by athlete mentors, while the secondary purpose was to examine the outcomes related to peer mentored athletes’ (i.e., protégés) mentoring experiences. Individual interviews were conducted with 14 elite peer mentored athletes, and the data were analyzed using a hierarchical content analysis. The results indicated that athlete mentors provided a variety of specific functions that facilitated protégés’ progression through sport and development from a personal standpoint. The findings also showed that protégés benefitted in terms of enhanced performance and confidence, and also demonstrated a willingness to provide mentorship to their peers. In sum, the results of the current study may be used to enhance the effectiveness of peer mentoring relationships between athletes.