The objective of this study was to explore how sport psychology consultants perceive the challenges they face at the Olympic Games. Post-Olympics semistructured interviews with 11 experienced sport psychology consultants who worked at the London Games were conducted. The interviews were transcribed and inductively content analyzed. Trustworthiness was reached through credibility activities (i.e., member checking and peer debriefing). The participants perceived a number of challenges important to being successful at the Olympic Games. These challenges were divided into two general themes: Challenges Before the Olympics (e.g., negotiating one’s role) and Challenges During the Olympics (e.g., dealing with the media). The challenges the sport psychology consultants perceived as important validate and cohere with the challenge descriptions that exist in the literature. The findings extend the knowledge on sport psychology consultancy at the Olympic Games by showing individual contextual differences between the consultants’ perceptions and by identifying four SPC roles at the Olympic Games.
Peter Elsborg, Gregory M. Diment and Anne-Marie Elbe
This article shares personal perspectives and experiences that emerged as a result of 15 years of consulting with athletes representing numerous sports at both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The importance of listening closely to athletes, respecting their input, and meeting their individual needs is emphasized. Consultants are cautioned against using batteries of standardized personality assessment inventories as these infringe upon the athletes’ time without providing practical information. Effectiveness in this field requires firsthand experience with sport, a full understanding of the psychology of excellence, and a willingness to learn directly from the athletes themselves. One-on-one contact, adaptability to individual needs, good interpersonal skills, applied sportpsych knowledge, and persistence in application are also important. It is recommended that registration of consultants in the field of applied sport psychology be contingent upon direct evaluation by athletes.
Despite the fact that Olympic sailing is a psychologically demanding sport, few countries use the services of sport psychologists to mentally prepare their athletes for the rigors of international competition. At the 1988 Summer Olympic Games only Canada and France had sport psychologists working on site with the athletes during the Games. This article describes the educational, mental skills approach used to prepare the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team as well as the athlete and coach mental preparation programs. Components of the team’s Olympic Preparation Plan are outlined and the use of thorough planning and preparation to bolster the athletes’ feelings of readiness and confidence is discussed. The importance of providing athletes with a distraction-free environment during the Games is also discussed, along with a plan for accommodating the needs of their family members and the media.
Shane M. Murphy and Alfred P. Ferrante
A description is given of the sport psychology services provided to the U.S. Team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The service delivery model is described and several examples illustrate the nature of the consultations provided to coaches and athletes. Some 72 formal consultations were held with 40 individuals and teams, and an analysis is given of the types of services requested and the clients who were served.
Carolyn E. McEwen, Laura Hurd Clarke, Erica V. Bennett, Kimberley A. Dawson and Peter R.E. Crocker
processes in elite sport. The Summer Olympic Games are a unique worldwide event occurring every 4 years, and for many athletes they represent the pinnacle of sport achievement ( Gould & Maynard, 2009 ; Stambulova et al., 2012 ; Wylleman et al., 2012 ). Elite athletes often plan their careers around the
Terry Orlick and John Partington
This study included 235 Canadian Olympic athletes who participated in the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo and Los Angeles. Individual interviews were carried out with 75 athletes and a questionnaire was completed by another 160 to assess their mental readiness for the Olympic Games and factors related to mental readiness. Common elements of success were identified, as well as factors that interfered with optimal performance at the Olympic Games. Statistically significant links were found between Olympic performance outcome and certain mental skills.
Margaret Dupee, Tanya Forneris and Penny Werthner
The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived outcomes of a biofeedback and neurofeedback training intervention with high performance athletes. Five Olympic level athletes preparing for world championships and the 2012 Olympic Games took part in a 20 session intervention over the period of one year. At the completion of the intervention, a semistructured interview was conducted with each athlete. The athletes indicated that they became more self-aware, were better able to self-regulate both their physiological and psychological states, developed a greater sense of personal control, and a greater understanding of skills inherent in the field of sport psychology. Three of the athletes made the Canadian Olympic team for the 2012 Olympic Games and two of those athletes won bronze medals. The present study suggests that biofeedback and neurofeedback training may be useful in enabling athletes to perform optimally, in both training and competition, on a consistent basis.
Clifford J. Mallett
The coach is central to the development of expertise in sport (Bloom, 1985) and is subsequently key to facilitating adaptive forms of motivation to enhance the quality of sport performance (Mallett & Hanrahan, 2004). In designing optimal training environments that are sensitive to the underlying motives of athletes, the coach requires an in-depth understanding of motivation. This paper reports on the application of self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) to coaching elite athletes. Specifically, the application of SDT to designing an autonomy-supportive motivational climate is outlined, which was used in preparing Australia’s two men’s relay teams for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Terry Orlick and John Partington
Intensive interviews were conducted with each of 75 Canadian Olympic athletes representing 19 different sports in order to evaluate the sport psychology services offered to them. Athletes representing 12 of the sports indicated they had worked with 1 of 11 sport psychology consultants in preparation for the 1984 Olympic Games. Some were highly satisfied with their consultant and his or her mental training program, others were highly dissatisfied. A profile of the best and worst consultants was developed based upon the athletes’ perceptions of desirable and undesirable consultant characteristics. Suggestions are provided for improving the quality of sport psychology services for elite athletes.
Anne Marte Pensgaard and Joan L. Duda
Drawing upon the Cognitive-Motivational-Relational Theory of Emotion (Lazarus, 1991, 1999, 2000) and Hanin’s (1993, 2000) conceptualization of emotions, the purpose of this study was threefold. First, the reported content, frequency, and intensity of emotions experienced by 61 athletes in relation to a stressful event when competing in the 2000 Olympic Games were determined. Second, the relationships between emotional responses and reported coping strategies and perceived coping effectiveness were examined. Finally, the degree to which emotions and perceived coping effectiveness predicted subjective and objective performance during the Olympics was ascertained. In general, the athletes experienced a high frequency of optimizing emotions. Optimizing emotions were related to coping effectiveness, which emerged as a positive predictor of objective competitive results. Coping effectiveness also positively predicted subjective performance while reported dysfunctional emotions emerged as a negative predictor.