Nicholas L. Holt

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Publications (74)70.1 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine factors that influenced childhood active free play. Participants were 13 young adults who resided in one western Canadian city. They took part in semi-structured and walk-along interviews during which they were asked about their memories and experiences of play. Analysis showed that, whereas parental restrictions and safety concerns were limiting factors, a sense of community and safety in numbers facilitated their involvement in active free play. However, the young adults thought these factors had since become eroded from modern society. We concluded a reduced sense of perceived safety exists because there are fewer eyes on where children play.
    Children s Geographies 01/2015; 13(1). · 1.16 Impact Factor
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    Kacey C Neely, Nicholas L Holt
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    ABSTRACT: The overall purpose of this study was to examine parents' perspectives on the benefits of sport participation for their young children. Specifically, this study addressed two research questions: (1) What benefits do parents perceive their children gain through participation in organized youth sport programs? (2) How do parents think their children acquire these benefits? Twenty-two parents (12 mothers, 10 fathers) of children aged 5–8 years participated in individual semistructured interviews. Data were subjected to qualitative analysis techniques based on the interpretive description methodology. Parents reported their children gained a range of personal, social, and physical benefits from participating in sport because it allowed them to explore their abilities and build positive self-perceptions. Parents indicated they believed children acquired benefits when coaches cre-ated a mastery-oriented motivational climate that facilitated exploration. Crucially, parents appeared to play the most important role in their children's acquisition of benefits by seizing "teachable moments" from sport and reinforcing certain principles in the home environment. Researchers have been interested in the potential benefits associated with participation in youth sport for decades. In recent years, the nomenclature of Positive Youth Development (PYD) has become the umbrella term for many types of studies looking at potential benefits of sport participation. PYD is a strength-based view of development (Lerner, Brown, & Kier, 2005) that includes a range of theoretical and conceptual approaches, which share a common focus on intentional efforts to develop interests, skills, and abilities that will enable youth to navigate life's challenges and thrive (Lerner, 2002). In this sense, the term PYD is used to refer to the processes by which young people acquire a range of cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral skills (Catalano, Ber-glund, Ryan, Lonczak, & Hawkins, 2002). The majority of studies examining PYD through sport have focused on the period of adolescence. In fact, this observation applies to the youth sport psychology literature in general, and as Weiss and Raedeke (2004) commented, "we know the most about children's sport experiences in middle childhood through early adolescence, but little about the early childhood… [years]" (p. 19). The current study was designed to add to the literature by examining the benefits of sport participation, and how they are acquired, among young children. Young childhood can be defined as the developmen-tal period from approximately five to eight years of age and is a time when children experience several important and rapid personal, social, and physical transitions (Shaf-fer, Kipp, Wood, & Willoughby, 2010). For example, their cognitive skills improve as they develop abilities to read, write, do simple arithmetic, and think in more logical ways (Feldman, 2012). Young children begin to use social comparison (Harter, 1999) and they become cognizant of their social roles, while friendships and peer group acceptance begin to become significant (Puckett & Black, 2005). They also learn to identify their own and others' emotions and develop their emotional regulation skills (Denham, 1998). Physically, most young children make vast improvements in their gross, fine, and funda-mental movement skills (Gabbard, 2004). Young childhood is also the developmental period when many children commence their involvement in organized sport programs (Coakley, 2011; Smoll & Smith, 2002). In previous generations young children had freedom to play outdoors, but parental restrictions (mainly arising from safety concerns) have limited young children's unsupervised outdoor play (Veitch, Bagley, Ball, & Salmon, 2006). Active free play has largely been replaced by organized sport programs. For instance, 84% of Canadian children aged 5–10 years old participated in organized sport at least once a week (Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, 2011) and findings from an Australian survey showed participation in organized sport and dance among 5–8 year olds increased from 57% in 2000–65% in
    Sport Psychologist 09/2014; 28:255-268. · 1.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Minimizing sedentary behavior, in particular screen-based sedentary behavior, during the early years is important for healthy growth and development. Consequently, new Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years (aged 0-4 years) were recently released. Researchers are unclear what messages should supplement the guidelines when disseminating them to parents and when using the guidelines in behaviour-change interventions to increase adoption. The objective of this study was to qualitatively examine parents' perceptions of the new Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 05/2014; 11(1):65. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    Nicholas L. Holt, Jay Scherer, Jordan Koch
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives The purpose of this study was to examine issues surrounding the provision of sport opportunities to young men from inner-city areas of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. More specifically, the research question was: What are the benefits, constraints, and opportunities associated with providing sport programs to young men from inner-city areas?DesignEthnography.Methods Data were collected via 15 months of participant observation and interviews with 12 youth workers who were responsible for the provision of various sport programs to young inner-city dwellers. Analysis was framed around personal, social, and structural issues.ResultsAt a personal level sport provided young men with an outlet for overcoming boredom and a temporary reprieve from the conditions of their daily lives. At a social level sport provided opportunities for relationship building between the youth workers and the young men. However, enduring structural constraints associated with economic and social inequality and the lack of a coordinated approach to the delivery of services restricted the influence that sport could have in the lives of the young men.Conclusion This study provided some precise understandings of the benefits, constraints, and opportunities associated with providing sport programs to members of specific populations in certain inner-city circumstances. Findings, therefore, have the potential to inform public health policy concerning the use of sport-for-development programming in such contexts.
    Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 07/2013; 14(4):538–548.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper is based on a three-year research programme, the overall purpose of which was to develop, implement and evaluate sport-based after-school programmes for students in low-income areas of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In addition to presenting the results of this study, the other purpose of this paper was to provide an empirical example of participatory action research, depicting when and how community partners were engaged in the research process. Following several years of initial work in low-income communities, a need to create sport-based after-school programming was identified. The first action phase involved the creation and delivery of a multi-sport programme in two schools. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 children and two teachers to evaluate programme content and benefits. Inductive analysis revealed that the programme provided children with new opportunities and helped them to learn social and personal life skills. In the second action phase, a revised programme was delivered to 35 children. Fourteen children and three teachers participated in interviews to share their views on programme content, benefits and challenges. There were difficulties relating to the children’s skill level, behaviour and listening during the early stages of the programme. Nonetheless, by the end of the programme, children reported that they enjoyed activities based on creating optimal challenges and ‘adventures’ which engaged their imaginations. Children also learned fundamental movement, sport and life skills, some of which transferred to other areas of their lives.
    Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 06/2013; 5(3):332-355.
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine meanings of play among children. Thirty-eight students aged 7–9 years from a suburban public school in Western Canada participated in focus groups. Data analysis revealed participants saw almost anything as an opportunity for play and would play almost anywhere with anyone. However, they perceived parents to have somewhat different views regarding play. The children frequently described adults as restricting play opportunities. This study therefore revealed that children had a relatively unrestrained view of play and these findings may be useful for helping to ensure that adults facilitate, rather than hinder, children’s play.
    Childhood 05/2013; 20(2):185-199. · 1.10 Impact Factor
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    Journal of nutrition education and behavior. 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine patterns of appraisal, coping, and coping effectiveness in sport. Ten players from a collegiate female volleyball team were interviewed on two occasions, first in the week before a provincial final playoff tournament and in the week following the tournament. Data were transcribed verbatim and subjected to content and idiographic analyses. Athletes generally did not predict or anticipate the stressors they actually experienced during the tournament. Subjective appraisals of effective coping were associated with consistency between proactive and actual coping attempts. Reported effective coping was associated with the attainment of personal performance goals and use of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional coping strategies in the absence of behavioral avoidance. Reported ineffective and partially effective coping was associated with not attaining personal performance goals, and the use of cognitive coping strategies with behavioral avoidance. Finally, older, more experienced athletes reported they coped better than younger, less experienced athletes during the tournament.
    Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 01/2013; 78(2):117-132.
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives The purposes of this study were to (a) explore experiences of adversity and (b) to examine perceptions of growth following adversity among elite female athletes.Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five elite female athletes (ages 18–23 years) who competed internationally in track and field, swimming, long-distance running, and basketball. Interviews were analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological approach (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009).ResultsIncidents of performance slumps, coach conflicts, bullying, eating disorders, sexual abuse, and injuries were reported. The shared ‘essential’ features of participants’ experiences of adversity were isolation/withdrawal, emotional disruption, questioning identity as an athlete, and understanding experiences within a context of perceived expectations. It appeared that as participants sought and found meaning in their experiences, they identified opportunities for growth associated with social support and also as they realized the role of sport in their lives. Aspects of growth include realizing strength, gaining perspective of their problems, and gaining a desire to help others. Athletes’ experiences with adversity were seen as part of an ongoing journey through elite sport.Conclusions Athletes’ experiences of adversity may have initiated a process of questioning their identities and searching for meaning in their experiences. Findings highlighted the complexity associated with social support and athletes’ growth following adversity. Growth following adversity appears to be a valuable area of research among elite athletes.
    Psychology of Sport and Exercise 01/2013; 14(1):28–36. · 1.72 Impact Factor
  • Camilla J. Knight, Nicholas L. Holt
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    ABSTRACT: Objective The overall purpose of this study was to develop a grounded theory of optimal parental involvement in youth tennis. Design A Straussian grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1998; Corbin & Strauss, 2008) was used. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 90 youth tennis players, ex-youth players, parents, and coaches from the United Kingdom. Data were analyzed through a process of open and axial coding, and theoretical integration. Through this process data were broken down into smaller units (concepts), relationships between concepts were identified, and a substantive grounded theory was developed. Results The grounded theory of optimal parental involvement in tennis was built around the core category of ‘understanding and enhancing your child’s tennis journey.’ The core category was underpinned by three categories: (a) Share and communicate goals, which referred to the need for parents and children to have the same aims for the child’s tennis involvement; (b) develop an understanding emotional climate, which accounted for the need for parents to continually seek to foster an environment in which children perceived parents understand their experience, and; (c) engage in enhancing parenting practices at competitions, which denoted the specific behaviors parents should display in relation to competitive tennis. Conclusion The theory predicts that consistency between goals, emotional climate, and parenting practices will optimize parenting in youth tennis.
    Psychology of Sport and Exercise 01/2013; · 1.72 Impact Factor
  • Camilla J Knight, Nicholas L Holt
    Sport Psychologist 01/2013; 27:281-291. · 1.02 Impact Factor
  • Camilla J. Knight, Nicholas L. Holt
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    ABSTRACT: The purposes of this study were to (a) explore the factors that influence parents’ experiences of watching their children compete at junior tennis tournaments and (b) identify suggestions for enhancing their experiences. Interviews were conducted with 40 parents of junior players in Western Australia. Parents’ experiences at tournaments appeared to be primarily influenced by four factors: Their child’s performance and behavior, sportspersonship, parent–parent interactions, and the tournament context. Participants also provided three recommendations to enhance their experiences: Educate and support players, educate and support parents, and organizational changes. The identification of these factors, along with participants’ suggested changes, has a number of implications for parent education initiatives that may enhance parenting in junior tennis in the future. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
    Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. 01/2013; 2(3):173.
  • Pimatisiwin 01/2013; 11(2).
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: At least two million Canadian children meet established criteria for weight management. Due to the adverse health consequences of obesity, most pediatric weight management research has examined the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions to improve lifestyle behaviors, reduce co-morbidities, and enable weight management. However, little information is available on families' decisions to initiate, continue, and terminate weight management care. This is an important knowledge gap since a substantial number of families fail to initiate care after being referred for weight management while many families who initiate care discontinue it after a brief period of time. This research aims to understand the interplay between individual, family, environmental, and systemic factors that influence families' decisions regarding the management of pediatric obesity. METHODS: Individual interviews will be conducted with children and youth with obesity (n = 100) and their parents (n = 100) for a total number of 200 interviews with 100 families. Families will be recruited from four Canadian multi-disciplinary pediatric weight management centers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Montreal. Participants will be purposefully-sampled into the following groups: (i) Non-Initiators (5 families/site): referred for weight management within the past 6 months and did not follow-up the referral; (ii) Initiators (10 families/site): referred for weight management within the past 6 months and did follow-up the referral with at least one clinic appointment; and (iii) Continuers (10 families/site): participated in a formal weight management intervention within the past 12 months and did continue with follow-up care for at least 6 months. Interviews will be digitally recorded and analyzed using an ecological framework, which will enable a multi-level evaluation of proximal and distal factors that underlie families' decisions regarding initiation, continuation, and termination of care. Demographic and anthropometric/clinical data will also be collected. DISCUSSION: A better understanding of family involvement in pediatric weight management care will help to improve existing health services in this area. Study data will be used in future research to develop a validated survey that clinicians working in pediatric obesity management can use to understand and enhance their own health services delivery.
    BMC Health Services Research 12/2012; 12(1):486. · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract The overall purpose of this two-part study was to examine factors that influenced fatigue status in university level swimmers. Participants were 25 swimmers (14 male, 11 female) from one university swim team. A mixed methods approach was used. Quantitative data were collected using an orthostatic heart rate test and self-report questionnaire at multiple time points throughout a competitive season. Qualitative data were collected via focus groups conducted at the end of the season. Analysis of the quantitative data indicated high levels of accumulated physiological and psychological fatigue that improved with increased recovery. Specifically, heart rate indices, form, feeling, and energy level improved during taper periods and worsened during and immediately after intensive training blocks. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that one factor (flexible structure of training programme) had a positive influence on athletes' fatigue while two factors (teammate expectations and balancing school, work, and sleep) had a negative influence on athletes' fatigue.
    Journal of Sports Sciences 11/2012; · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is an urgent need to develop and evaluate weight management interventions to address childhood obesity. Recent research suggests that interventions designed for parents exclusively, which have been named parents as agents of change (PAC) approaches, have yielded positive outcomes for managing pediatric obesity. To date, no research has combined a PAC intervention approach with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to examine whether these combined elements enhance intervention effectiveness. This paper describes the protocol our team is using to examine two PAC-based interventions for pediatric weight management. We hypothesize that children with obesity whose parents complete a CBT-based PAC intervention will achieve greater reductions in adiposity and improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors, lifestyle behaviours, and psychosocial outcomes than children whose parents complete a psycho-education-based PAC intervention (PEP). This study is a pragmatic, two-armed, parallel, single-blinded, superiority, randomized clinical trial. The primary objective is to examine the differential effects of a CBT-based PAC vs PEP-based PAC intervention on children's BMI z-score (primary outcome). Secondary objectives are to assess intervention-mediated changes in cardiometabolic, lifestyle, and psychosocial variables in children and parents. Both interventions are similar in frequency of contact, session duration, group facilitation, lifestyle behaviour goals, and educational content. However, the interventions differ insofar as the CBT-based intervention incorporates theory-based concepts to help parents link their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours; these cognitive activities are enabled by group leaders who possess formal training in CBT. Mothers and fathers of children (8-12 years of age; BMI ≥85th percentile) are eligible to participate if they are proficient in English (written and spoken) and agree for at least one parent to attend group-based sessions on a weekly basis. Anthropometry, cardiometabolic risk factors, lifestyle behaviours, and psychosocial health of children and parents are assessed at pre-intervention, post-intervention, 6-, and 12-months follow-up. This study is designed to extend findings from earlier efficacy studies and provide data on the effect of a CBT-based PAC intervention for managing pediatric obesity in a real-world, outpatient clinical setting. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01267097.
    BMC Pediatrics 08/2012; 12:114. · 1.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity and associated health risks disproportionately affect Aboriginal (First Nations) children in Canada. The purpose of this research study was to elicit First Nations children's perceptions of food, activity, and health to inform a community-based obesity prevention strategy. Fifteen 4th- and 5th-Grade students participated in one of three focus group interviews that utilized drawing and pile-sorting activities. We used an ecological lens to structure our findings. Analyses revealed that a variety of interdependent sociocultural factors influenced children's perceptions. Embedded within a cultural/traditional worldview, children indicated a preference for foods and activities from both contemporary Western and traditional cultures, highlighted family members as their main sources of health information, and described information gaps in their health education. Informed by children's perspectives, these findings offer guidance for developing an obesity prevention strategy for First Nations children in this community.
    Qualitative Health Research 07/2012; 22(7):986-96. · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To review the recent literature (over the past 18 months) regarding psychosocial challenges and clinical concerns among adolescent athletes, and to address the advances made in understanding adolescent athletes' coping processes. Coping research has moved from identifying discrete stressors and coping strategies to examining the processes of coping over time. Parents and coaches play an important role in young athletes' sport experiences and athletes' use and development of coping strategies. In terms of clinical concerns, findings regarding the prevalence of disordered eating have been equivocal. However, disordered eating may be of greater concern among athletes participating in 'leanness' sports. Sport participation may contribute to increased alcohol consumption among adolescent athletes but decreased use of drugs and smoking cigarettes, while steroid use appears to be relatively rare compared with athletes' use of alcohol and cigarettes. The reviewed studies have implications for future research by identifying opportunities for intervention and education regarding clinical and nonclinical psychosocial challenges. Researchers have emphasized the importance of athletes' social context and relationships in coping with psychosocial challenges in sport. One concern is that adolescent athletes' disordered eating and substance use may reflect maladaptive coping. Experimental and intervention research is limited; however, incorporating members of athletes' social network into future research and interventions may be a practical avenue to achieving positive outcomes among adolescent athletes.
    Current opinion in psychiatry 05/2012; 25(4):293-300. · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: School-based recreational opportunities for youth from low-income inner-city neighbourhoods are often lacking. School programs represent an ideal location for promoting youth development in low-income areas because they can provide safe, supervised, and structured activities. Such activities should include not only physical education (PE) programs, but other extra-curricular activities such as intramural sports and school sport teams. Because we were interested in how these programs were associated with youth development, we used the concept of positive youth development (PYD) to guide this study.Purpose: This case study examined school staff members’ and children's perceptions of school PE, intramural sports, and sport teams with a view to establish factors that facilitated or impeded PYD.Method: Data were collected via individual interviews with eight teachers and 59 children from an inner-city school that had a mission to promote positive behaviors consistent with PYD. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to a categorical aggregation analysis procedure.Results: Findings showed factors that facilitated or impeded PYD varied across different contexts. In PE, the importance of a specialist PE teacher and establishing clear boundaries during lessons while providing children with perceptions of choice were important. Children enjoyed intramural sports, but there were few attempts to create an appropriate developmental atmosphere during these sessions. In fact, intramural sports were associated with negative student interactions. Coaches of the sport teams used techniques to promote social interactions and respect. Most notable student outcomes associated with PYD related to fostering empathy and social connections.Conclusion: These findings showed differences in contextual factors across the PE/sport programs that helped promote or impeded PYD. These differences revealed some practical suggestions for promoting PYD, which include focusing on the developmental orientation of PE classes, the fun of intramurals, and the ‘life skills’ focus of the sport teams. Furthermore, we suggest an integrated, school-wide approach is required to help promote PYD.
    Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 01/2012; 17(1):97-113. · 0.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A clear income gradient exists for the sport and physical activity (PA) participation of Canadian children. Governments in Canada recently introduced tax credits to alleviate the financial burden associated with registering a child in organized physical activity (including sport). The majority of these credits, including the Children's Fitness Tax Credit, are non-refundable (i.e., reduces the amount of income tax a person pays). Such credits are useful only for individuals who incur a certain level of tax liability. Thus, low-income families who may pay little or no income tax will not benefit from the presence of non-refundable tax credits. In this commentary, we argue that the non-refundable tax credit is inherently inequitable for promoting PA. We suggest that a combination of refundable tax credits and subsidized programming for low-income children would be more equitable than the current approach of the Canadian government and several provinces that are expending approximately $200 million to support these credits.
    Canadian journal of public health. Revue canadienne de santé publique 01/2012; 103(3):175-7. · 1.02 Impact Factor