This article provides direct accounts of best-ever consulting experiences as well as lessons about effective consulting given by 19 sportpsych consultants who worked with Canadian athletes in preparation for the 1988 Olympic Games. These consultants attended a workshop funded by Sport Canada, organized and conducted by the authors. Findings are based on the consultants’ written answers to a preworkshop survey. Best-ever experiences were characterized in terms of the openness of athletes and coaches, how the consultation was started, time allowed to work with the athletes, and the fit of the consultant to the situation. Recommendations were also extracted from the content of audiotape recordings and written minutes of workshop discussion groups. These recommendations were directed to the following aspects of consultation: assessing commitment, defining one’s role, beginning the consultation, testing, executing the consultation, team meetings, and consultant characteristics and practices. Implications for selecting and preparing effective consultants are discussed.
John Partington and Terry Orlick
Nils Vikander, Tor Solbakken and Margarita Vikander
The propose of the study was to investigate gender patterns in psychological/behavioral characteristics of elite Cross County skiers. Twentyeight athletes who won medals in Olympic Games or World Championships were accessed using the Behavior Inventories for Cross County Skiers (Rushall and Vikander, 1987). Nine clusters common to both men and women were identified as: relationship with other athletes; relationship with the coach; relationship to significant others; training factors; pre-competition factors; competition factors; reactions to things that go wrong; considerations about the sport, and things champions like about cross country skiing. With this inquiry we have uncovered both gender similarities and differences among the world’s foremost cross country skiers in psychological dimensions as well as in the behavioral arena.
John H. Salmela
Since 1985 the Canadian Gymnastics Federation (CGF) has used a sport psychology consultant to work with elite male gymnasts who were preparing for two World Championships and the Seoul Olympic Games. The present paper outlines the chronology of this relationship, giving specific attention to how the initial contact phase that centered upon group goal-setting was expanded to encompass a range of services that were more personalized. The extension of services to elite age-group gymnasts is also described along with the problems and advantages of dealing with the full spectrum of developmental stages. A detailed recounting of the various initiatives, successes, and setbacks underlines how the long-term intervention process evolves between the coaches, the gymnasts, and the sport psychology consultant. Special emphasis is given to the importance of using “teachable moments” throughout the training and competitive process.
Richard D. Gordin Jr. and Keith P. Henschen
The following article explains the sport psychology program utilized with the USA Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team. The program was developed in 1983 and was implemented over the past quadrennium. Both service and research delivery systems are explained as well as the organization of service delivery over the past 5 years. This multimodel approach to the systematic training of elite world-class female athletes is presented to illustrate the psychometrics, mental skill development, and group process techniques utilized within the U.S. Gymnastic Federation’s artistic program. Both organizational and philosophical components of service delivery are explained. The range of services and problems encountered are also discussed. Finally, a detailed account of service leading to the Olympic Games and the program’s effectiveness is presented.
Göran Kenttä, Stephen Mellalieu and Claire-Marie Roberts
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.
Dennis Dreiskaemper, Bernd Strauss, Norbert Hagemann and Dirk Büsch
Hill and Barton (2005) showed that fighters in tae kwon do, boxing, and wrestling who wore red jerseys during the 2004 Olympic Games won more often than those wearing blue jerseys. Regarding these results, this study investigated the effects of jersey color during a combat situation on fighters’ physical parameters of strength and heart rate. An artificial, experimental combat situation was created in which the color of sport attire was assigned randomly. Fourteen pairs of male athletes matched for weight, height, and age had to fight each other: once in a red jersey and once in a blue. Heart rate (before, during, and after the fight) and strength (before the fight) were tested wearing the blue and the red jerseys. Participants wearing red jerseys had significantly higher heart rates and significantly higher pre-contest values on the strength test. Results showed that participants’ body functions are influenced by wearing red equipment.
John Partington and Terry Orlick
Individual interviews were conducted with 17 Canadian Olympic coaches in order to assess sport psychology consultants and services provided to their athletes and teams in the 4 years leading up to the 1984 Olympic Games. The coaches represented a wide range of sports; all but 2 had worked directly with a sport psychology consultant in preparing their athletes for the Olympics. A total of 21 consultants were reviewed and evaluated. The coaches outlined their personal criteria for assessing the effectiveness of a sport psychology consultant and his or her mental training program. A consensus regarding desired personal consultant characteristics is presented, as well as coaches’ reasons for retaining or terminating the services of a sport psychology consultant.
Anahit Armenakyan, Norm O’Reilly, Louise Heslop, John Nadeau and Irene R. R. Lu
The hosting of a mega–sport event (MSE) has a number of implications for a host country, some positive and some negative. This research explores the influence of the on-field performance of the host country’s national team (NT), in this case for the Olympic Games, on the decision to bid for and potentially host such an MSE. Previous studies have normally focused on residents and international tourists who attend the event, thereby not considering the views of (i) nonresident communities of the host country and (ii) international and domestic spectators. This research responds by investigating the impact of individual associations with the (Olympic) NT through examining the expectations for and perceived performance of the NT on behavioral attitudes of domestic (Canadian) and foreign (American) residents toward the NT itself, the MSE, and the host country, around the 2010 Winter Vancouver Olympic Games.
Marla K. Beauchamp, Richard H. Harvey and Pierre H. Beauchamp
The present article outlines the development and implementation of a multifaceted psychological skills training program for the Canadian National Short Track Speedskating team over a 3-year period leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. A program approach was used emphasizing a seven-phase model in an effort to enhance sport performance (Thomas, 1990) in which psychological skills training was integrated with biofeedback training to optimize self-regulation for performance on demand and under pressure. The biofeedback training protocols were adapted from general guidelines described by Wilson, Peper, and Moss (2006) who built on the work of DeMichelis (2007) and the “Mind Room” program approach for enhancing athletic performance. The goal of the program was to prepare the athletes for their best performance under the pressure of the Olympic Games. While causation cannot be implied due to the lack of a control group, the team demonstrated success on both team and individual levels.
Jaakko Kaprio and Seppo Sarna
Occupational disability was investigated in former Finnish athletes in the Olympic Games, World or European championships, or intercountry competitions during 1920–1965 (N = 2,402 men) for eight selected sports. The referents were 1,712 men selected from the Finnish conscription register, matched on age and area of residence and classified as completely healthy. The first outcome measure was the length of working life based on the age when the subject was granted a disability pension, or age at death before age 65. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of mean working life expectancy was 61.4 years for endurance sport athletes, 60.0 years for team games athletes, and 59.2 years for power sport competitors, compared with 57.6 years for the reference group. Decreased coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular and respiratory morbidity were observed for all athletes when compared with the referent group. It was concluded that sustained and vigorous physical activity during early adulthood may extend the occupationally active life span and defer the onset of disability before retirement age.