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Kitrina Douglas and David Carless

The dominant narrative within the literature on elite sport is characterised by a total focus on performance. Scholars in other areas have noted how although alternatives to the dominant narrative exist they are often silenced and fail to reach the public domain. Drawing on interviews with seven women professional tournament golfers, we explored the narratives women use to make sense of their experiences in elite sport. We present three narratives which illustrate the existence of alternatives to the dominant performance narrative among Europe’s most outstanding women golfers. Two alternatives are identified: a discovery narrative and a relational narrative. These findings suggest that diverse routes to success are possible in women’s professional sport. We discuss the educational and social implications of the alternative narratives in an effort to encourage discussion and debate among athletes, administrators, coaches, sports psychologists, and educators.

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Karen P. DePauw

Physical activity and sport are integral aspects of the human life-cycle of girls and women including girls and women with disabilities. Girls and women with disabilities actively seek physical activity and have become increasingly more visible and active participants in sport opportunities ranging from organized physical activity programs to recreational pursuits and elite sport competitions. To date, the researchers have focused on the influence of sport (and physical activity) upon girls and women with disabilities, thereby leaving the influence of girls and women with disabilities on sport as a social institution as a new frontier for critical feminist analysis.

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Brendon Tagg

Transgender people are increasingly tolerated, and sometimes even actively celebrated, within contemporary Western popular culture. However, despite the broader political movement against gender-based discrimination, transgender people’s participation in élite sport remains contentious. Although American transgender professional tennis player Renee Richards drew attention to transgender athletes as early as the mid-1970s, even major sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) struggle to formulate fair and consistent gender policies. This article discusses the specific case of transgender players in men’s netball in New Zealand, a somewhat uniquely gendered sport, as a means of understanding emerging issues surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in sport more broadly.

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Ina Garthe and Ronald J. Maughan

In elite sport, where opponents are evenly matched, small factors can determine the outcome of sporting contests. Not all athletes know the value of making wise nutrition choices, but anything that might give a competitive edge, including dietary supplements, can seem attractive. Between 40% and 100% of athletes typically use supplements, depending on the type of sport, level of competition, and the definition of supplements. However, unless the athlete has a nutrient deficiency, supplementation may not improve performance and may have a detrimental effect on both performance and health. Dietary supplements are classified as a subcategory of food, so manufacturers are not required to provide evidence of product safety and efficacy, nor obtain approval from regulatory bodies before marketing supplements. This creates the potential for health risks, and serious adverse effects have been reported from the use of some dietary supplements. Athletes who compete in sports under an anti-doping code must also realize that supplement use exposes them to a risk of ingesting banned substances or precursors of prohibited substances. Government systems of regulations do not include specific laboratory testing for banned substances according to the WADA list, so a separate regulatory framework to evaluate supplements for their risk of provoking a failed doping test is needed. In the high-performance culture typical of elite sport, athletes may use supplements regardless of possible risks. A discussion around medical, physiological, cultural, and ethical questions may be warranted to ensure that the athlete has the information needed to make an informed choice.

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Louise M. Burke and David B. Pyne

Bicarbonate loading is a popular ergogenic aid used primarily by athletes in short-duration, high-intensity sporting events and competitions. Controlled experimental trials have shown that small (worthwhile) benefits can obtained from acute doses of bicarbonate taken before exercise. Gastrointestinal problems encountered by some athletes limit the widespread use of this practice, however. The transfer of positive research findings to the competitive environment has proved problematic for some individuals. More recent applications involve serial ingestion of bicarbonate over several days before competition or during high-intensity training sessions over a few weeks. A number of research questions need to be addressed to enhance applications of bicarbonate loading in the elite sport environment. This commentary examines some of research and practical issues of bicarbonate loading used to enhance both training and competitive performance.

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Josh Ogden and Jonathon R. Edwards

Organizations in a sport system compete against one another while working together to sustain a competitive environment and to provide opportunities for competition at the provincial/state, national, or international level. This paper is a multicase study comparison of the elite sport development systems of Canada and Sweden to explore the differences and similarities between their approaches to the delivery of ice hockey. Semistructured interviews took place with participants from North America and Europe. Additional data came from media articles from Canada and Sweden. Findings revealed six themes/characteristics: the cost of hockey, residential boundaries, the player selection process, skill development, early specialization, and coaching. The results suggest that Canadian and Swedish hockey systems offer two different approaches to elite player development (closed vs. open systems), resulting in different trajectories regarding international success in the World Junior Championships and in the number of players drafted into the National Hockey League.

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Carlos A. Muniesa, Zoraida Verde, Germán Diaz-Ureña, Catalina Santiago, Fernando Gutiérrez, Enrique Díaz, Félix Gómez-Gallego, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Luisa Soares-Miranda and Alejandro Lucia

Growing evidence suggests that regular moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with an attenuation of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening. However, more controversy exists regarding higher exercise loads such as those imposed by elite-sport participation.

Methods:

The authors investigated LTL differences between young elite athletes (n = 61, 54% men, age [mean ± SD] 27.2 ± 4.9 y) and healthy nonsmoker, physically inactive controls (n = 64, 52% men, 28.9 ± 6.3 y) using analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results:

Elite athletes had, on average, higher LTL than control subjects, 0.89 ± 0.26 vs 0.78 ± 0.31, P = .013 for the group effect, with no significant sex (P = .995) or age effect (P = .114).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that young elite athletes have longer telomeres than their inactive peers. Further research might assess the LTL of elite athletes of varying ages compared with both age-matched active and inactive individuals.

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Robert J. Schinke, Alain P. Gauthier, Nicole G. Dubuc and Troy Crowder

The study of adaptation in elite sport delineates the adjustment strategies of amateur and professional athletes during career transitions (e.g., promotion, relocation). Fiske (2004) recently identified 5 core motives as the vehicles to adaptation: belonging, understanding, controlling, self-enhancement, and trusting. The goal was to verify and contextualize these core motives with 2 respondent groups of professional athletes from the National Hockey League. The groups consisted of those experiencing rookie adaptation and veteran adaptation. A total of 58 athletes were divided into groups representing the Canadian mainstream, Canadian Aboriginal culture, and Europe. There were 175 newspaper articles that were retrieved using online and library resources. The similarities and discrepancies in and across groups provides insight into this hard-to-reach population.

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David Fletcher and Sheldon Hanton

This study extends recent research investigating organizational stress in elite sport. Fourteen international performers (7 men and 7 women) from a wide range of sports were interviewed with regard to potential sources of organizational stress. Consistent with Woodman and Hardy’s (2001a) theoretical framework of organizational stress in sport, four main categories were examined: environmental issues, personal issues, leadership issues, and team issues. The main environmental issues that emerged were selection, finances, training environment, accommodation, travel, and competition environment. The main personal issues were nutrition, injury, and goals and expectations. The main leadership issues were coaches and coaching styles. The main team issues were team atmosphere, support network, roles, and communication. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research and in terms of their implications for sport organizations and personnel working with elite performers.

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Liam A. Slack, Ian W. Maynard, Joanne Butt and Peter Olusoga

The present study evaluated the effectiveness of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Program (MTETP) in elite football officiating. The MTETP consisted of four individual and two group-based workshops designed to develop mental toughness (MT) and enhance performance in three English Football League (EFL) referees. Adopting a single-subject, multiple-baseline-across-participants design, MT and referee-assessor reports were evaluated. Self and coach-ratings of MT highlighted an instant and continued improvement in all three referees during the intervention phases. Performance reports of all referees improved throughout the intervention phases compared with the baseline phase. Social validation data indicated that an array of strategies within the MTETP facilitated MT development. Discussions acknowledge theoretical and practical implications relating to the continued progression of MT interventions in elite sport.