Providing effective sport psychology services requires practitioners to conceptualize the unique issues and concerns of each individual athlete. However, collecting information on the athlete, understanding the athlete’s issues and needs, and determining how to best assist the athlete can be a complex process. Thus, this article outlines a case formulation approach to help the sport psychology consultant assess the athlete, organize and conceptualize assessment data, classify the athlete’s issues, and choose interventions that directly target those factors that are impeding the athlete’s progress in athletics or other life domains. Two case examples are provided to illustrate the case formulation process.
Frank L. Gardner and Zella E. Moore
Siobhain McArdle and Phil Moore
This article highlights four key principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and proposes situations where these tenets would be relevant from an applied sport psychology perspective. To achieve this aim, a case study of an athlete with a dysfunctional perfectionist mindset is employed. We conclude with possible research directions in applied sport psychology informed by CBT. These recommendations include the need to further develop an evidence based formulation system and the relevance of building a repertoire of “evidence-based” behavioral experiments to improve practice.
Daniel S. Kirschenbaum
This paper attempts to demonstrate the interdependence of research and theorizing on self-regulation and sport psychology. The process of maximizing sport performance was conceptualized as a self-regulatory problem. A five-stage model of self-regulation was presented to show the usefulness of this perspective. In particular, the model of self-regulation applied to this problem indicates that athletes should: specify their goals, establish commitments to change, manage their physical and social environments to facilitate pursuit of goals, execute the components of self-regulation to achieve goals (self-monitor, self-evaluate, self-consequate), and attempt to generalize changes achieved via the development of obsessive-compulsive styles of self-regulation. Recent findings in the self-regulation literature were reviewed to show how this conceptualization should be refined. Several applications in sport psychology were then described. This analysis supports the conclusion that (a) sport psychology provides an excellent medium for testing principles of self-regulation, and conversely, (b) self-regulatory models and principles can lead to effective interventions in sport psychology.
This paper discusses a model of providing a specialized employee assistance program, with psychological services that are far-reaching and beyond what traditional employee assistance programs offer. Three main areas in which services are deemed especially critical include working with the athletes to improve their sports performance using various mental skills techniques, providing personal counseling, and impacting the organization at an organizational level. Also discussed is the author’s current role with the team and management, both during the preseason and the official season. Further, the author evaluates his effectiveness as a sport psychology consultant and the problems encountered as well as the importance of developing and maintaining proper boundaries within the organization. In conclusion, issues related to the goodness of fit between the professional sport organization and the sport psychology consultant are addressed.
Robert C. Eklund
Sport psychology research conducted in field settings has expanded considerably in the last decade and a half. However, there has been little formal discussion of a number of important issues concerning the notion of conducting research in ecologically valid settings. Gaining entry to collect data with sport participants is one such issue. This important initial stage of the field research process regards not only the feasibility of collecting data but also the very quality of data that one might be able to collect in the setting. This manuscript presents important guiding considerations for efforts to gain entry to field settings, including personal attributes of the researcher, connections, accounts, knowledge, and courtesy. Social science and sport psychology practitioner literature regarding gaining entry are examined, and relevant examples are integrated into the discussion.
Lee-Ann Sharp and Ken Hodge
The purpose of this study was to investigate the components necessary for the development of an effective applied sport psychology consulting relationship between a sport psychology consultant (SPC) and a coach. To address this purpose, two SPC-Coach consulting relationship case studies will be presented. Following purposeful sampling methods, members of two SPC-Coach consulting relationships (2 SPCs and 2 elite coaches) participated in individual interviews to discuss their perceptions of effective consulting relationships. Inductive \content analysis was conducted to search for common themes both within and across the two case studies (Weber, 1990). Three categories emerged with shared similarities between both case study relationships as important to the development of effective consulting relationships between SPCs and coaches; (a) SPC knowledge; (b) trust; and (c) friendship. In addition, two categories individual to each of the case study consulting relationships emerged; (d) SPC fitting in with team culture; and (e) flexibility.
Cheryl A. Travis and Michael L. Sachs
One of the largest groups of persons with disabilities is that of persons with mental retardation. More than 1,000,000 athletes with mental retardation, for example, participate in Special Olympics each year. Sport psychology can help with performance enhancement as well as enhancing the quality of the sport experience for persons with mental retardation. Additionally, participation in exercise and sport can result in increased benefits such as enhanced self-esteem, self-reliance, and willingness to take risks. The literature in this area is reviewed, and extensive suggestions on working with athletes with mental retardation are offered. Due to the cognitive limitations that are one characteristic of persons with mental retardation, the sport psychologist faces particular challenges in providing sport psychology services for this population. A case study is provided to illustrate some of the challenges and rewards in working with athletes with mental retardation.
Robert J. Rotella and Mi Mi Murray
Homophobia has been an issue of concern in the world of sport for decades. It has had a negative impact on the world of athletes, coaches, and sport psychology consultants. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals are affected. Homophobia has kept some from striving for excellence while interfering with and hindering some who pursued success in sport. Specialists in sport psychology who claim to care about the development of human potential in sport must be concerned about the impact of homophobia. An honest look at attitudes, beliefs, and values is a necessary step forward if change is to occur. A move in the direction of healthy acceptance of differing sexual preferences is suggested, along with an effective philosophy for doing so. A wish list for the future is included.
Robert J. Brustad and Michelle Ritter-Taylor
Psychological processes in sport are inextricably linked to the social contexts within which they occur. However, research and practice in applied sport psychology have shown only marginal concern for the social dimensions of participation. As a consequence of stronger ties to clinical and counseling psychology than to social psychology, the prevailing model of intervention in applied sport psychology has been individually centered. Focus at the individual level has been further bolstered by cognitive emphases in modem psychology. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the need for a balanced consideration of social and personal influences. Four social psychological dimensions of interest will be explored, including athletic subculture membership; athletic identity concerns; social networks of influence; and leadership processes. The relevance of these forms of influence will be examined in relation to applied concerns in the areas of athlete academic performance, overtraining and burnout, and disordered eating patterns. At minimum, consultants need to address contextual and relational correlates of psychological and performance issues.
Robert J. Rotella
This paper presents a philosophy for sport psychology consulting that emphasizes a belief in helping people’s dreams come true, believing in possibilities, trusting in ability and talent, and the awesome power of the mind if the mind is properly directed. Particular attention is focused on learning how to resist socialization in order to do one’s best. A brief introduction of strategies for doing so and how such ideals may be delivered is presented.