The number of older athletes is growing with the aging of populations across the developed world. This article reviews studies from a variety of disciplines that focus specifically on the motives and experiences of older adults competing in physically demanding sports at events such as masters and veterans competitions in Australia or the Senior Olympics in North America. It is shown that the majority of research into this phenomenon has taken a quantitative approach or failed to consider older athletes’ experiences in the context of broader sociocultural discourses. Therefore, using the author’s research into the experiences of older Australian masters athletes as a catalyst, the need for and strength of sociological qualitative research in this area is discussed. The use of qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and observations, and interpretive analysis provided alternative ways of making sense of older adults and their relationship with competitive sport to what is typically found in the sport and aging literature.
Denise M. Hill, Nic Matthews and Ruth Senior
This study used qualitative methods to explore the stressors, appraisal mechanism, emotional response, and effective/ineffective coping strategies experienced by elite rugby union referees during pressurized performances. Participants included seven male rugby union referees from the United Kingdom (Mage = 27.85, SD = 4.56) who had been officiating as full-time professionals for between 1 and 16 years (M = 4.85, SD = 5.42). Data revealed that the referees encountered a number of stressors, which were appraised initially as a ‘threat’, and elicited negatively-toned emotions. The referees were able to maintain performance standards under pressure by adopting proactive, problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies which managed effectively the stressors and their emotions. However, the use of avoidance-coping, reactive control, and informal impression management were perceived as ineffective coping strategies, and associated with poor performance and choking. Recommendations are offered to inform the psychological skills training of rugby union referees.
Kelsey Timm, Cindra Kamphoff, Nick Galli and Stephen P. Gonzalez
The historic Boston Marathon was struck by tragedy in 2013 when two bombs exploded near the finish line during the race. This tragedy provided the opportunity to study resilience in marathon runners, whose experience overcoming minor adversities may help them respond resiliently to trauma (Dyer & Crouch, 1988). The purpose of this study was to employ qualitative methods to examine the role of resilience in helping runners overcome their experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon. The researchers used Galli and Vealey’s (2008) Conceptual Model of Sport Resilience as a guide. Sixteen 2013 Boston Marathon runners were interviewed. Participants reported experiencing a confusing, unpleasant race day, followed by months of mixed emotions and coping strategies, which were mediated by personal resources and ultimately led to positive outcomes including increased motivation, strength, new perspectives, and a greater sense of closeness in the running community.
Rachel Arnold and David Fletcher
The purpose of this study was to synthesize the research that has identified the organizational stressors encountered by sport performers and develop a taxonomic classification of these environmental demands. This study used a meta-interpretation, which is an interpretive form of synthesis that is suited to topic areas employing primarily qualitative methods. Thirty-four studies (with a combined sample of 1809 participants) were analyzed using concurrent thematic and context analysis. The organizational stressors that emerged from the analysis numbered 1287, of which 640 were distinct stressors. The demands were abstracted into 31 subcategories, which were subsequently organized to form four categories: leadership and personnel, cultural and team, logistical and environmental, and performance and personal issues. This meta-interpretation with taxonomy provides the most accurate, comprehensive, and parsimonious classification of organizational stressors to date. The findings are valid, generalizable, and applicable to a large number of sport performers of various ages, genders, nationalities, sports, and standards.
Stephen Silverman and Mara Manson
As a part of their doctoral education, students complete a dissertation. Examining these dissertations can provide one analysis of research in a field. The primary purpose of this study was to analyze all physical education dissertations with a teaching focus that were completed between 1985 and 1999. All possible dissertations were examined through the electronic version of Dissertation Abstracts International. For the teaching dissertations (n = 201), each abstract was coded for (a) research type, (b) research focus, (c) student variable measured, (d) observation used, (e) interview used, (f) other methods used, (g) population, (h) general methodology, and (i) statistics reported/used. Most research on teaching dissertations addressed issues related to teacher effectiveness and focused on motor skill learning and attitude. There was an increase in qualitative methods from those reported in a previous study (Silverman, 1987). While there were methodological advances, many dissertations still used methods that were not informed by the research methods literature.
Graham Jones, Sheldon Hanton and Declan Connaughton
The authors conducted an investigation of mental toughness in a sample population of athletes who have achieved ultimate sporting success. Eight Olympic or world champions, 3 coaches, and 4 sport psychologists agreed to participate. Qualitative methods addressed 3 fundamental issues: the definition of mental toughness, the identification of its essential attributes, and the development of a framework of mental toughness. Results verified the authors’ earlier definition of mental toughness and identified 30 attributes that were essential to being mentally tough. These attributes clustered under 4 separate dimensions (attitude/mindset, training, competition, postcompetition) within an overall framework of mental toughness. Practical implications and future avenues of research involving the development of mental toughness and measurement issues are discussed.
Ronald Gallimore and Roland Tharp
This paper revisits a 1970s study of Coach John Wooden’s teaching practices in light of new information. The original study reported discrete acts of teaching, including the number of instructions, hustles, praises, among other instructional moves. Using qualitative notes recorded during the original study, published sources, and interviews with Coach Wooden and a former UCLA player, we reexamined the 1970s quantitative data to better understand the context of Wooden’s practices and philosophy. We conclude that exquisite and diligent planning lay behind the heavy information load, economy of talk, and practice organization. Had qualitative methods been used to obtain a richer account of the context of his practices, including his pedagogical philosophy, the 1974-1975 quantitative data would have been more fully mined and interpreted.
Dawn K. Wilson, Suzanne Domel Baxter, Caroline Guinn, Russell R. Pate and Kerry McIver
Qualitative methods were used to better understand how to obtain interviewer-administered recalls of physical activity from children.
Subjects were 24 third- and fifth-grade children from 1 school in Columbia, South Carolina. Cognitive interviews targeted different retention intervals (about the same or previous school day). Round 1’s protocols used an open format and had 4 phases (obtain free recall, review free recall, obtain details, review details). Round 2’s protocols used a chronological format and had 3 phases (obtain free recall, obtain details, review details). Trained coders identified discrepancies across interview phases in children’s recalls of physical activity at physical education (PE) and recess. Based on the school’s schedule, children’s reports of PE and recess were classified as omissions (scheduled but unreported) or intrusions (unscheduled but reported).
Across interview phases, there were numerous discrepancies for Round 1 (regardless of grade, sex, or retention interval) but few discrepancies for Round 2. For Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, 0% and 0% of children omitted PE, while 33% and 0% intruded PE; 44% and 56% of children omitted recess, while 33% and 0% intruded recess.
Results provide important information for facilitating interviewer-administered recalls of physical activity with elementary-age children.
Peter M. Hopsicker and Douglas Hochstetler
In this paper, we ethically examine the value of dichotomies to the endurance community or any sports community bifurcated by attitudes of superiority in one qualitative method of experiencing an activity over another—as Pearl Izumi's 2007 advertising campaign “We are not joggers” has done by dividing the bipedal ambulatory endurance community into “runners” and “joggers.” Using the writings of American pragmatists William James and John Dewey, we will describe the endurance sports community in terms of “unsympathetic characters” and “sympathetic characters.” We will then layer conceptions of the “static” self and the “dynamic” self on top of this dichotomy. The results of this examination will not support Pearl Izumi's dichotomy in “static” ways. However, if these perspectives are viewed as exemplifying a temporal measure of the “dynamic” self, as part of the endurance athletes' personal narratives, then actions and attitudes based on these dichotomies can be seen as part of meaningful personal and community growth as well as a potential source of virtue.
Larissa Galatti, Otavio Baggiotto Bettega, Vinícius Zeilmann Brasil, Antonio Evanhoé Pereira de Souza Sobrinho, Rachael Bertram, Alexandre Vinicius Bobato Tozetto, Heitor Andrade Rodrigues, Carine Collet, Juarez Nascimento and Michel Milistetd
Sport coaches in Brazil have been recognized as professionals since the implementation of law 9696 in 1998. However, little is known about the impact of this law on the production of coaching science in this country. In an attempt to situate the sports coaching research produced in Brazil since then, the aim of the current study was to show an overview of Brazilian publications from 2000 to 2015. Eight journals were selected and a review was performed in 425 issues of the journals from 2000 to 2015. As a result, 82 published articles were analyzed. On average, five articles were published each year, with 81.7% of the articles published from 2009 to 2015. The findings illustrate that 37.7% of the articles were focused on coaches’ thinking and 29.5% on coaches’ behaviors, 48.7% used qualitative methods, while 40.3% used quantitative methods and 20.9% used mixed methods. Only two articles attempted to explore the impact of the 1998 legislation on the development of sport coaches in Brazil. In general, research on sport coaching in Brazil seems to be emerging on an international level, as there has been an increase in publications over the past seven years, especially in the lead-up to the Rio2016 Summer Olympic Games.