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Young competitive athletes are not miniature elite athletes; they are a distinct client group to whom sport psychology practitioners (SPPs) increasingly deliver services. Interventions with this client group are often undertaken by newly educated SPPs who are in need of good guiding principles. Yet, there is a lack of research informing SPPs’ work with this group. In this current study, semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with four experienced practitioners about their most successful interventions in competitive youth sport. Analysis showed three major themes: (a) young athletes should be equipped with a holistic skills package that enables them to handle a number of existential challenges; (b) young athletes are embedded in an environment (coaches, experts, teammates etc.) that should be involved in the interventions; and (c) interventions with young athletes should maintain a long-term focus. These themes are discussed in the context of current literature on sport psychology service delivery.
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2014, 8, 245-260
© 2014 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Kristoffer Henriksen, Carsten Hvid Larsen, and Louise Kamuk Storm are with the Institute of Sport
Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. Knud Ryom is with
the Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports, University of Copenhagen. Address author corre-
spondence to Kristoffer Henriksen at
Sport Psychology Interventions
With Young Athletes: The Perspective
of the Sport Psychology Practitioner
Kristoffer Henriksen, Carsten Hvid Larsen, Louise Kamuk
University of Southern Denmark
Knud Ryom
University of Copenhagen
Young competitive athletes are not miniature elite athletes; they are a distinct client
group to whom sport psychology practitioners (SPPs) increasingly deliver services.
Interventions with this client group are often undertaken by newly educated SPPs
who are in need of good guiding principles. Yet, there is a lack of research inform-
ing SPPs’ work with this group. In this current study, semistructured qualitative
interviews were conducted with four experienced practitioners about their most
successful interventions in competitive youth sport. Analysis showed three major
themes: (a) young athletes should be equipped with a holistic skills package that
enables them to handle a number of existential challenges; (b) young athletes are
embedded in an environment (coaches, experts, teammates etc.) that should be
involved in the interventions; and (c) interventions with young athletes should
maintain a long-term focus. These themes are discussed in the context of current
literature on sport psychology service delivery.
Keywords: mental skills, young athletes, sport psychology practitioner, sport
environment, talent development
Talented young athletes go through at least a decade of hardship with the aim
of reaching the elite level in sport (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993).
A successful outcome requires the development of physical, technical, tactical,
and psychological capacities (Abbott & Collins, 2004; Elbe & Beckmann, 2006).
Although the practice of sport psychology designed to improve performance has
amply demonstrated its value with elite-level athletes (Andersen, 2000; Gould,
Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002; Vealey, 2007), sport psychologists are less aware
246 Henriksen et al.
of its effect on young athletes because discussions on the cognitive developmental
processes involved in learning psychological skills are rare in the sport psychol-
ogy literature (McCarthy, Jones, Harwood, & Olivier, 2010). Despite a strong
research base in the eld of developmental psychology, the physical, social, and
psychological challenges and changes encountered during maturation are less often
acknowledged in sport psychology.
At the same time, it has been suggested that, because of their rapid develop-
ment, young athletes may benet even more from learning psychological skills
than older athletes (Vealey, 1988) and that with the ever-present professionalization
(Heinilä, 1982) of talent development including the organization of sport-specic
centers of excellence around the world, young athletes are increasingly becoming
an important client group for the sport psychology practitioner (McCarthy et al.,
2010). Along these lines, researchers have pointed out that young athletes who are
introduced to psychological skills training (PST) at an early age are more likely to
use such services than mature elite athletes (Blom, Hardy, Burke, & Joyner, 2003)
and that practitioners should be cognizant of the social, cognitive, and emotional
development of young athletes when delivering sport psychology services (Visek,
Harris, & Blom, 2009).
These facts bear witness to the importance of paying special consideration to
the delivery of sport psychology services to talented young athletes. In the current
study, we interviewed four experienced sport psychology practitioners about their
most successful interventions in youth competitive sport with the aim of garnering
useful recommendations about delivering services to this particular group. Investi-
gating these issues from the perspective of the sport psychology practitioner (SPP),
we aimed to supplement current applied perspectives and guidelines.
Sport Psychology Delivery for Young Athletes
An athletic career is a long and winding journey during which an athlete must go
through a number of transitions within sport and other spheres of life, each present-
ing different challenges and opportunities for growth or crisis, and each demanding
different types of psychological support (Stambulova, Alfermann, Statler, & Côté,
2009). At the same time, developmental psychology draws our attention to the fact
that a major challenge during adolescence is the development of a self-identity,
and that an important challenge for young athletes is to fully engage in their sport
while not experiencing identity foreclosure (e.g., Wylleman & Lavallee, 2004).
Martindale and Mortimer (2011) assert that the primary task of a talent development
environment is to equip the athletes with a holistic skills package containing “a
wide variety of cognitive, perceptual and motor skills . . . as many such ‘teachable’
factors are important in distinguishing the best performers at later stages” (p. 71).
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend toward regarding young athletes
as a group that needs tailored interventions, including specic skills, strategies and
considerations that meet the particular needs of the group.
In a qualitative study, McCarthy et al. (2010) asked 118 athletes between ages
10–15 to complete an open-ended questionnaire to explore their implicit under-
standing of psychological skills such as goal-setting, imagery, and relaxation. The
authors demonstrated that young athletes implicitly hold different understandings
about such abstract psychological skills than more mature athletes. For this reason,
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 247
the teaching of these skills should be adapted to the developmental level of the
athletes. A grounded theory study based on qualitative interviews with young
talented soccer players on the verge of making a breakthrough into professional
ranks (Holt & Dunn, 2004) combined with a similar study of subelite soccer play-
ers in a professional talent development system on the verge of not making it into
the professional ranks (Holt & Mitchell, 2006) have investigated the psychosocial
competences associated with a successful career in soccer. Together, these studies
demonstrate that a specic set of psychological characteristics are associated with
making it into the professional ranks; a set of skills that do not necessarily cor-
respond with the skills needed to succeed at the elite level. More specically they
highlight pathway and agency thinking, resilience, and the ability to seek social
support as determinants of a successful career path.
Building on the idea that aspiring elite athletes encounter challenges that are
specic to their complex pathway to the elite level, MacNamara, Button, and Collins
(2010a, 2010b) performed two qualitative interview studies with developing athletes
and, in one of the studies, their parents. Based on a grounded theory approach, they
introduced a distinction between the psychological characteristics of excellence
(PCE) and the psychological characteristics of developing excellence (PCDE), such
as commitment, realistic performance evaluations, planning and organization skills,
and self-awareness. Although MacNamara and colleagues do not investigate the
skills needed by elite level athletes, they argue that the delivery of sport psychol-
ogy services to young athletes should acknowledge that the skills needed to reach
the elite level are different from the skills needed to succeed at elite level and thus
PCDEs should be systematically employed in talent development practices. This is
supported by a case study of a Danish youth soccer academy. Based on participant
observations of daily practices and qualitative interviews with athletes, coaches
and managers, the study found that the most important psychosocial skills needed
to succeed in the particular environment were not classic mental skills but rather
self-awareness, managing performance and process outcomes, setting own goals,
the ability to use team skills, and general social skills (Larsen, Alfermann, & Chris-
tensen, 2012). These ideas are further supported by a study on young team sport
athletes (Holland, Woodcock, Cumming, & Duda, 2010), which retrospectively
interviewed 43 athletes in focus groups about the mental qualities required and
the mental skills used to facilitate their development. Through inductive content
analysis they found qualities such as enjoyment, adaptability, and self-awareness,
which are not typically among the qualities found in studies of elite-level athletes
(Gould et al., 2002; Vealey, 2007). The above mentioned studies, in spite of dif-
ferences in aim, methodology, and target groups, suggest that sport psychology
services aimed at developing athletes should focus on skills specically selected
to match their needs. Despite these ndings, sport psychology interventions with
young athletes often still provide little rationale for the targeted skills.
Literature has further demonstrated that the delivery of sport psychology
service should be organized to meet the needs of young athletes. For example,
it has been demonstrated that successful talent development is inuenced by the
environment in which the talented athlete is embedded (Henriksen, Stambulova, &
Roessler, 2010, 2011; Martindale, Collins, & Abraham, 2007). The obvious exten-
sion of this idea is that expert services should be integrated into the environment
and involve key gures in the athlete’s life. This would imply that the organization
248 Henriksen et al.
(team or club management) supports the effort; that coaches and staff are involved
and knowledgeable about the aims and content of the intervention as well as able
and willing to back them up; and that psychological skills are regarded as equally
important as technical and other skills within the basic values of the team or club
culture. Along these lines, it has been argued that parents play an important role
in young athletes’ lives and therefore it would be worthwhile for the SPP to target
parents in their interventions (Lauer, Gould, Roman, & Pierce, 2010a, 2010b).
Indeed, describing a sport psychology intervention in youth soccer, Harwood (2008)
argued that the intervention was successful because it focused on skills selected to
match the needs of the young athletes (such as communication and commitment),
involved the training not only of athletes but also of coaches and parents, and
integrated the development of the targeted psychological skills in the daily soccer
(technical and physical) training.
Addressing the lack of available resources to guide sport psychology interven-
tions that target a youth sport population, Visek et al. (2009) introduced the Youth
Sport Consulting Model (YSCM), which serves as a framework to guide the sport
psychology practitioner in the delivery of service. Building on more general and
extensive service delivery models (Poczwardowski, Sherman, & Henschen, 1998),
this phase-based model gives important advice on how a practitioner can: (a) iden-
tify an appropriate age group, (b) gain entry, (c) select and present psychological
skills, (d) evaluate the consultation, (e) integrate PST during the off-season, and
(f) temporarily or permanently terminate the service provision.
Sport Psychology Service Delivery
by New Practitioners
The fact that young athletes have specic needs is not the only reason to make
an effort to provide guidelines for sport psychology intervention with this target
group. Another reason pertains to the practitioners who are actually in the eld
working with the target group. Although it has been noted that the sport psychology
industry “has a much deeper and more profound role to play in youth sport (and
youth-coach education) compared with any other life stage” (Harwood, 2008, p.
131), working with young athletes is still often used as an entry into the profession
by relatively new and inexperienced sport psychology practitioners. Whereas sports
federations and clubs may be very particular about whom they invite to work with
their best athletes, it is easier for new sport psychology practitioners to gain access
to working with younger athletes. To our knowledge, no empirical studies have
demonstrated that novice practitioners work less effectively with young athletes than
more experienced ones. Still, several authors point to the fact that the availability
of real-world training experiences to graduate students varies greatly (Wylleman,
Harwood, Elbe, & de Caluwé, 2009). Tashman & Tenenbaum (2013) state that:
When students advance directly from coursework to real-world practice with
unsystematic learning and training experiences, they engage in a trial and
error process that may unintentionally harm their learning and growth, the
clients with whom they are working, and the perceptions of the eld of sport
psychology (p. 72).
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 249
Lacking resources to guide them, novice practitioners may end up designing
generic rather than individually adapted programs, teaching mental skills rather than
helping the athletes handle the existential issues involved in an elite sports career,
and failing to understand the culture they are operating within (Nesti, 2010). We
therefore argue that novice practitioners are in greater need of specic and reliable
guidelines to inform their work than more experienced practitioners (Stambulova
& Johnson, 2010).
A highly effective method for disseminating knowledge is to observe expe-
rienced individuals in the eld of interest (Fifer, Henschen, Gould, & Ravizza,
2008). Accordingly, the purpose of the current study is to capture and present the
ideas, theories, and strategies that experienced applied sport psychology consul-
tants working in a competitive youth sport setting believe to be effective. The aim
is to develop applicable guidelines to inform sport psychology practitioners in the
design, implementation, and evaluation of their services with this target group.
Although there is no substitute for rst-hand experience with the science and art of
delivering sport psychology services, learning from more experienced practitioners
is a valid way to gain an understanding of the eld (Fifer et al., 2008). As illus-
trated above, most literature on sport psychology service targeting young athletes
has taken the perspective of the athletes and in rare cases that of the parents and
coaches. In contrast, the current study takes the perspective of the sport psychol-
ogy practitioner and focuses not on the nature of the successful athlete but on the
nature of the successful sport psychology intervention. The study is a qualitative
interview study with four sport psychology practitioners who have experience in
working with youth competitive athletes (ages 13–19).
In Denmark, the sports psychology profession has been characterized by a diversity
of approaches with little overarching consensus on the professional philosophy and
interventions strategies among consultants in the eld. In 2008, Team Denmark
(Denmark’s organization for elite sport) decided to strengthen sport psychology
service delivery in Danish elite sport by employing a permanent staff of sport
psychologists and formulating a professional philosophy (Henriksen, Diment, &
Hansen, 2011). Criteria for inclusion in the study were (a) being associated with
the Team Denmark sport psychology team, which means that the practitioner
works with athletes who are among the best in their sport in Denmark, and (b) a
minimum of eight years of experience delivering sport psychology in a Danish
context and with youth athletes. At the time, the team consisted of four employed
staff members and four external consultants. Four practitioners lived up to these
criteria and were selected for the study (one female, three male). They all agreed
to participate. Three are staff members and one is an external consultant working
for the team. Between them, the four practitioners have 51 years of experience of
working with young competitive athletes (8, 8, 10, and 25 years). Three are full-time
sport psychologists and one also holds a part-time position at a university. Although
250 Henriksen et al.
today they mostly work with elite-level athletes, they have spent considerable time
working with young athletes and still do.
Research Method and Instruments
Kvale and Brinkmann (2008) dene elite interviews as interviews with “leaders or
experts in a community, who are usually in powerful positions . . . and being asked
about their opinions and thoughts” about a certain topic (p. 147). Thus, interviewing
experts can be seen as a time-efcient strategy, as “the experts are seen as ‘crystal-
lization points’ for practical insider knowledge and are interviewed as surrogates
for a wider circle of players” (Bogner, Littig, & Menz, 2009, p. 2). Aware of the
specic challenges of interviewing experts, an effort was made not to interview
them as experts (asking for their theoretical considerations or their “recipe” for
a perfect intervention) but rather to consult them as practitioners (asking them to
share specic examples of their practice). Therefore, a semistructured interview
guide (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2008) that focused on specic experiences and inter-
ventions was created. The interviews started out with a broad and very open-ended
question: “Would you tell me about a specic intervention with youth competitive
athletes which you consider to be successful?” This was followed by more specic
but still open-ended questions to prompt elaboration, such as “Why do you think
this intervention worked well?” Second, the interviewees were asked to recount a
less successful intervention and reect on what went wrong. Finally, and only if
the interviewees had not already commented on these issues, the interviewer asked
more specic questions about the content, structure, and organization of successful
sport psychology interventions in competitive youth sport, such as “Where did the
work take place?” and “Whom did you involve in the intervention?”
We contacted the participants, informed them of the purpose of the study, gained
their acceptance, and made interview appointments. The interviews were carried
out at the interviewees’ workplace and lasted between 45–60 min (53 min on aver-
age). The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Full anonymity was
guaranteed to the participants in the study.
Data Treatment and Trustworthiness
The data analysis followed the two-step method for organizing and interpreting
qualitative data (Côté, Salmela, Baria, & Russel, 1993). The rst step consisted
of reading and rereading transcripts so that meaningful text segments or raw data
units could be identied or coded. These units represented a single idea or piece of
information. The second step consisted of creating categories by regrouping similar
raw data units. These categories were used to restructure the data into manageable
themes, which in turn reected the greatest possible internal homogeneity and
external heterogeneity within categories and were in accord with previous qualita-
tive studies in the eld (e.g., Holland et al., 2010). As a third step in the analysis,
each theme was subjected to meaning condensation (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2008).
Ongoing investigator triangulation (Denzin, 2006) meant the authors reassessed
the coding, categorization, and condensation of each data unit until agreement was
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 251
reached, which established peer validity (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2008) and enhanced
the accuracy of interpretations.
First of all, it is clear from the interviews that providing sport psychology services
to talented young athletes makes sense in the eyes of the practitioners and also that
such services must be tailored to this particular client group. The four interviewed
practitioners all emphasized that much is to be gained from helping young athletes
build the capacity to overcome the many obstacles they will encounter during their
sporting career.
More specically, data analysis revealed three high-order themes. These are
areas of particular importance with regard to providing sport psychology services
to young athletes: (a) young athletes have special needs; (b) young athletes are
embedded in an environment; and (c) interventions with young athletes should be
organized to allow for long-term development.
Young Athletes Have Special Needs
First and foremost the practitioners emphasized that the young athletes must be
seen as people, not only as athletes. The practitioners emphasized that young ath-
letes are not “miniature elite athletes.” As a consequence, the practitioners take an
interest in the athlete as a whole person and his or her life situation. Further, they
aim to provide the young athletes with a holistic skills package that includes but
also goes beyond mental skills, and which includes a variety of psychosocial skills,
not all of which are directly related to sport. One of the practitioners described the
holistic approach in this way:
It is very important to teach young athletes to handle life as an elite athlete.
But the challenges involved in this can be quite different. For a swimmer, a
major challenge could be keeping focus in school after hard morning training
sessions. For a sailor, a challenge could be to contribute to group-based project
assignments in school, because the sailor often travels for longer periods, and
another challenge would be to manage the many demands involved in booking
ight tickets, planning training and so on. We have to tailor our interventions
to the daily challenges of the athletes.
When asked about the focus of the interventions, the practitioners highlighted
a number of psychosocial skills such as goal-setting; coping with adversity in sport
and life; handling injuries and other challenges in the transition from junior to senior
level; prioritizing and planning daily life and balancing sport, school, recovery, and
social life; and being aware of the social network as a resource. One practitioner
explained how he would sometimes ask athletes to draw a “map” of the key people
in their lives and ask them to specify their roles and attitudes:
I will then ask the athlete: ‘How do you make sure, your immediate environ-
ment works for you? Which people support you, and which do the opposite?
What can you learn from your network, and how can you activate the support
you need?’
252 Henriksen et al.
Another common approach among the four practitioners was to build slowly
what they referred to as a professional attitude in the athletes. A key element was
the ability of an athlete to distinguish between factors within or outside their control.
The practitioners emphasized the value of learning not to waste time and energy on
things that are outside one’s control. On the other hand, it is equally important to
learn that one can actually inuence a lot of things; that many important aspects of
life as an athlete are within one’s control. The practitioners would sometimes ask
the athletes to create lists of the things within or outside their control, and discuss
strategies for either letting go of the things that could not be controlled or taking
responsibility for the things that could. This process was designed to prepare the
athletes for life as an elite athlete.
Young Athletes Are Embedded in an Environment
The practitioners all agreed that one key to successful sport psychology interven-
tions in youth sport is acknowledging that athletes are embedded in an environment.
This fact should not be disregarded in the service delivery. More specically, this
general point was manifested in two distinct subthemes: being in the environment
and involving the environment.
The rst subtheme, being in the environment, relates to the location of the
service delivery. The practitioners all agreed that performing psychological inter-
vention in the athletes’ environment is more successful than working in an ofce
or other outside setting, as exemplied by this quote:
I don’t have a moment’s doubt that I prefer delivering service in their everyday
environment, on their home court. That is where they feel most comfortable,
most open. I would rather not invite them into my ofce, which is a completely
unaccustomed context for them. The closer we can get to their normal sur-
roundings, the better.
All four practitioners emphasized their preference for bringing sport psychol-
ogy into the athletes’ daily practice sessions. Indeed, the best cases described by
the practitioners all involved sport psychology service delivery as a natural and
incorporated part of the athletes’ sports environment. Because the athletes have to
be able to use psychological skills in their daily training, this is also where those
skills should be taught. The practitioners argued that young athletes all too rarely
manage to integrate skills in training, which they have learned outside of the natural
sport environment.
The practitioners further contended that informal talks can be quite effective
to build rapport but the opportunity to engage in such informal talks requires the
presence of the sport psychologists in the environment. Being in the environment
also provides the practitioners with the opportunity to observe and assess the
athletes in training and competition, as demonstrated by this practitioner’s quote:
I believe I intervene in many different settings. Of course I plan and conduct
specic workshops, but what happens over lunch or dinner and in training is
just as important. In a training camp I often feel that the informal talks have
a high value.
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 253
A practitioner made a nal point about conducting sport psychology interven-
tions as part of athletes’ daily life; that it allows for a group organization, in which
the whole training team participates:
I think that group organization works really well. First of all, I believe the
athletes benet from listening to each other. They realize they are not alone
and that many other athletes have the same kinds of struggles. Also, they can
remind each other of basic messages and strategies when they meet every day.
The second subtheme, involving the environment, relates to the attempt of the
practitioners to involve family, coaches, and sometimes relevant peers as much as
possible in interventions. The practitioners stress that the support of coaches, par-
ents, and managers is crucial to the success of interventions. Therefore, involving
parents and coaches and informing them of the purpose and focus of interventions is
a very important task. For example, a practitioner highlighted how he would some-
times invite parents to listen in on a workshop and would even provide workshops
for parents with the aim of teaching them how they could best support their children:
We have on some occasions invited the parents to take part in the work. During
workshops with a specic focus, they have been allowed to sit at the back and
listen. Sometimes we have taken time out and asked the parents: ‘What do
you think about what you hear?’ or ‘What has surprised you the most during
these discussions?’ It is my impression that the parents really appreciate it,
and usually the athletes nd it to be OK.
Making sure the coaches support the work and are familiar with the purpose
and content of the sport psychology service is even more crucial for success, for
several reasons. First of all, it is important that the coaches attribute importance to
the work, particularly in front of the athletes. Beyond that, since the practitioners
cannot be in the environment on a daily basis, the coaches have an important task
in terms of asking follow-up questions on a daily basis and thereby ensuring that
the psychological perspectives are incorporated in the work, as one practitioner
It helps a lot, when a coach backs up your work. The athletes look up to the
coach, so when the athletes can feel that the coach considers sport psychology
to be a natural and important part of life as an athlete, everything is just easier.
If the coach gives the impression it is unimportant, the athletes will not buy
into it. And perhaps the most important way for a coach to show that sport
psychology is important is to join the workshops, take an interest, be curious
and ask questions. For this to work, we [sport psychology practitioners] have a
big responsibility to tell them what we do and why it is important. We also need
to help them be interested, back us up, and ask the right questions. Sometimes
I provide the coaches with a little interview guide and tell them: ‘These are
the themes we have been working on and here are some good questions for
you to ask during or after training.’
The practitioners observed that sometimes time constraints, logistics, or other
barriers stood in the way of their work. This was particularly salient with regard to
254 Henriksen et al.
integrating the sport psychology service delivery in daily training. When this is not
possible, the task of informing coaches and parents becomes even more important,
because they can serve as a “broker” and support the young athlete in the process
of putting sport psychology into practice. As an example, a practitioner describes
how he distinguished between the realistic and the ideal intervention process:
The ideal set-up would be to take part in the daily training once a week and to
integrate the training of psychological skills in the athletes’ physical training.
But this is not always realistic. So the ideal and realistic set-up is to be part
of their training a little less often but to help and supervise the coach so that
he can follow up on the psychological issues in the daily training. Optimally,
what I would call the mental dialogue should be there every day.
Interventions Should Foster Long-Term Development
As the third and nal higher-order theme, analysis of the data revealed that inter-
ventions with young athletes should be organized to allow for long-term develop-
ment. In general, the practitioners approached the young prospects with patience
and were aware of the many transitions the athletes were going through in sport
as well as outside it. A practitioner emphasized that the young athletes are not just
preparing to enter elite-level sport but they are also in the middle of an identity-
forming process: “Sometimes we ask questions and get no answer. That does not
mean the question was wrong. You can’t rush these things.” In this regard, the
practitioners regarded sport psychology interventions in youth sport as an ongoing
and time-consuming process. Workshops should be short and frequent, and refrain
from introducing theoretical or abstract concepts. A successful intervention must
be built upon a trusting relationship and, to build trust, the practitioner must allow
time for the young athlete to mature and develop a positive attitude toward sport
psychology. In general, the practitioners adhered to the basic philosophy that with
youth sport process is more important than results. Therefore they were task-oriented
and preferred long-lasting interventions, preferably following a group of athletes
for years, as demonstrated in this practitioner’s quote:
Really it is the process that creates the basis for winning medals in the long
run. Talent development is about the long-term development, about building
resources in the young athletes to help them manage career transitions and
adversity, about helping them stay motivated. An athlete who wins medals as
a junior only to end his career before making it as a senior is not a success in
my book. Rather, that would be a dropout case, a case of unfullled potential.
The purpose of this study was to capture and present the ideas, theories, and strate-
gies that experienced applied sport psychology consultants working in a competitive
youth sport setting believe to be effective. It is hoped that such perspectives will
inspire other practitioners in the design, implementation, and evaluation of their
services with this target group. After analyzing interviews with four experienced
sport psychology practitioners about their most successful interventions, three
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 255
higher-order themes emerged, which can be considered as inspirational guide-
lines: (a) young athletes have special needs, (b) young athletes are embedded in
an environment, and (c) interventions with young athletes should foster long-term
Sport Psychology Interventions With Young Athletes
The results of the present qualitative interview study support much contemporary
research on sport psychology with competitive young athletes. First and from an
overall perspective, the current study supports the general notion that young ath-
letes should not be treated as miniature versions of their adult counterparts (Visek
et al., 2009), which has implications for planning, implementing, and evaluating
psychological programs with this target group.
In terms of the content of sport psychology services aimed at young athletes,
the current study highlights that we must provide young athletes with a holistic
skills package containing a variety of psychosocial skills to enable them to: (a)
stay motivated, (b) be task-oriented, (c) cope with adversity in sport and life, (d)
handle injuries and other challenges in the transition from junior to senior level, (e)
prioritize and plan their daily life to balance sport, school, social life, and recovery,
and (f) be able to use their social network as a resource. These ndings are in line
with Martindale and Mortimer (2011), who argue that:
It is crucial that sports have a very clear and holistic developmental curriculum.
This would cover technical, tactical, physical, and mental development as a
minimum, whereby it would be possible to identify and develop progression
for any youngster of any ability within a program (p. 71)
The present results suggest that we should not only consider a holistic skills
package as one that covers mental, tactical, technical, and physical skills, but even
within the psychological area we need to work from a holistic perspective (Larsen
et al., 2012). This extends to the notion that the practitioner should take an interest
in the young athlete as a person, not only as an athlete, and provide services that
help the athlete manage the multitude of existential challenges involved in being an
athlete, a student, a son or daughter, a boy- or girlfriend, and so on (Nesti, 2004).
Previous research has contended the notion that young athletes need a different
set of skills to develop from the set of skills elite-level athletes need to perform
at the highest level (Holt & Dunn, 2004; Larsen et al., 2012; MacNamara et al.,
2010a, 2010b). However neither these studies nor the present one has included
elite-level athletes and therefore we should be careful to make direct comparisons.
Accordingly, although the contention seems reasonable, this is a task for future
research to determine.
This holistic approach as argued for by the practitioners in the present qualita-
tive study supports the strategy of holistic consulting, which is focused on: (a) man-
aging the psychological effects on the athlete’s performance of nonsport domains;
(b) developing the core individual beyond their athletic persona; and (c) recogniz-
ing the dynamic relationship between an athlete’s thoughts, feelings, physiology,
and behavior (Friesen & Orlick, 2010). Developing athletes beyond their athletic
persona is, however, a lengthy process (Price & Chahal, 2006) and managers and
256 Henriksen et al.
coaches in sport often suffer from a short-term perspective. In football (soccer),
for instance, the current employment expectancy of team managers/head coaches
in English league football stands at a record low of 1.4 years (Cruickshank & Col-
lins, 2012). Although the example is taken from professional elite-level football,
it is relevant to point to this trend. With the ever-increasing professionalization of
talent development (Heinilä, 1982), it is important to issue a clear warning against
adopting this trend from the professional ranks. From the perspective of delivering
sport psychology to young athletes, a long-term focus and a stable environment
are prerequisites for success.
The results of the current study suggest that delivering sport psychology
services inside the athletes’ daily training environment and within their training
groups, and informing and involving this environment (coaches, parents, managers,
and others) as much as possible, is essential. In this regard, the current study further
supports recent attempts to develop an ecological approach to talent development
(Henriksen, Stambulova, & Roessler, 2010, 2011; Martindale et al., 2007); one that
implies sport psychology practitioners should not only work with the individual
athletes but also optimize the entire environment around the athlete or team. More
specically, research from an ecological perspective has demonstrated that talent
development environments with a successful record of producing senior elite athletes
retain a holistic perspective; focus on the athletes’ long-term development; build
and maintain a strong and coherent organizational culture with consistency from
philosophy to methods; and integrate and coordinate systematic efforts to create
synergy among all the people involved in the athletes’ lives (e.g., Henriksen &
Christensen, 2013). Optimizing the environment and organizations in youth sport
is an important future task for the sport psychology practitioner.
Implications for the (New) Sport Psychology Practitioner
The Youth Sport Consulting Model (YSCM) is the most comprehensive educa-
tional framework for guiding and supporting sport psychology practitioners in the
implementation and delivery of sport psychology services for young athletes and
their sport organizations (Visek et al., 2009). The model proposes six phases in
the service delivery and provides important guidelines to inform each phase. The
importance of the framework is accentuated when we take into account that very
often the practitioners working with young athletes are relatively new in the eld
and therefore in extra need of a guiding framework. The purpose of the present
qualitative study was not to test or develop the YSCM but the information gathered
adds some new perspectives to the YSCM. More specically, the results support
the idea of a professional philosophy as a driving force in consultation and the
recommendation that such a philosophy should include a focus on the athlete as a
whole person and on the athlete’s lifestyle. Further, the results support the need to
establish open lines of communication in the environments and keep coaches and
parents informed about the consulting process, which can help prevent conicts
that could undermine the consulting relationship and process (Peterson, 2004). The
present study also supports the notion that educating coaches and parents as well
as the athletes is likely to be a worthwhile effort (Harwood, 2008; Lauer et al.,
2010a), and that the time spent by the practitioner in the environment is a crucial
investment in terms of establishing trusting athlete-practitioner, coach-practitioner,
Sport Psychology for Young Athletes 257
and parent-practitioner relationships and creating teachable moments (Visek et
al., 2009).
Unlike the YSCM, however, the four practitioners place little emphasis on
teaching mental skills and techniques (e.g., self-talk, arousal regulation, concen-
tration, and imagery). Rather, they emphasize helping the athletes manage the
multitude of existential challenges involved in becoming an elite athlete (Nesti,
2004). In addition, the four practitioners seem to favor longer interventions than
those recommended in the YSCM, preferably following the athletes for two years
or more with frequent sessions, with the aim of building trusting relationships and
sustainable psychosocial skills. Along these lines, Nesti (2010) argues that sport
psychology in football is dominated by a focus on mental skills training and that
newly educated sport psychology practitioners are mainly trained in this area.
He therefore argues that the new practitioner often lacks the necessary skills and
knowledge to provide more holistic counseling (e.g., working with self-knowledge,
identity, the athlete as a whole person). Learning the craft more fully would place
demands on the curriculum of university sport psychology courses, but equally
speaks to the need to integrate supervision and apprenticeships in the future educa-
tion of sport psychology practitioners (Wylleman et al., 2009).
Limitations and Future Research
Interviewing experienced practitioners in a given eld is an effective method for
disseminating knowledge (Fifer et al., 2008), and holds the potential for develop-
ing that eld. Accordingly, the current study aimed to capture the ideas, theories,
and strategies that experienced applied sport psychology consultants working in a
competitive youth sport setting believed to be effective. Some limitations should,
however, be considered. First, we only interviewed four practitioners, all of whom
work in Denmark. The delivery of sport psychology services is a culturally situ-
ated affair (Ryba, Schinke, & Tennenbaum, 2010) and an expansion of the study
to include a greater number of practitioners of different nationalities would be
welcome in the future.
A qualitative interview study like the present potentially encompasses a con-
rmation bias in the sense that people tend to favor information that conrms their
beliefs and preconceived ideas. This was dealt with by asking the practitioners to
describe what they actually did in practice and, when they talked about their values
and beliefs, by asking them to come up with examples from practice. A future
design could limit this bias further by encompassing triangulation either by data
source (e.g., by including the perspective of athletes) or by data method (e.g., by
including observational data).
Also, we realized during the study that being more specic in terms of age-
groups (midchildhood, early adolescence, or midadolescence) would likely make
the reections of the practitioners even more targeted.
In conclusion, we would like to suggest that future controlled trial studies
adhere to the specic recommendations of the current study. These recommenda-
tions include: (a) delivering a holistic skills package and helping athletes with the
multitude of existential challenges involved in reaching the elite level; (b) taking the
sport psychology service delivery to the athletes and involving key actors in their
environment as much as possible in the intervention; and (c) fostering a long term
258 Henriksen et al.
development focus and following the athletes over an extended period. Measuring
the effects of a sport psychology intervention that follows these recommendations
would be a difcult but very relevant addition to the mental skills training often
seen in such intervention studies.
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... It is increasingly relevant to examine how countries develop sport psychology practitioners because more sports clubs and organizations are looking for these services (Quartiroli et al., 2022). Researchers interested in individual practitioner support and development have mainly focused on reflective practice (Knowles et al., 2007), challenges for experienced and early career practitioners (Martin et al., 2021), and working with young athletes (Henriksen et al., 2014). At a systemic level, recent research by Quartiroli et al. (2022) attempts to provide multinational clarity on the sport psychology profession's identity by outlining legal, social, political, cultural, and contextual challenges. ...
... The early formation of the sport psychology team at the Danish elite sports organization, Team Danmark 1 , is an example of such socially responsible innovation (Diment et al., 2020). However, research (Henriksen et al., 2014) suggests that sport psychology practitioners unaffiliated with Team Danmark or other larger sports federations account for the majority operating in Denmark. To date, there is still limited knowledge about the backgrounds of the people practising sport psychology in Denmark. ...
... Finally, we urge the sport psychology field (in particular in Denmark) to acknowledge that many practitioners work with youth athletes (Henriksen et al., 2014). The need for such provisions is only increasing, as with the example of Danish Football expanding the use of sport psychology, often related to youth players in football academies. ...
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... In terms of perceived usefulness, the stress-prevention workshop may serve as a favorable initial introduction to working with SPCs for the players, coaches, and management of the youth academy. The awareness and acceptance of sport psychology services that has been generated might pave the way for more long-term and profound sport psychology interventions by fostering a positive attitude in regard to sport psychology and SPCs in this setting (Henriksen et al., 2014). Consequently, the desired long-term development of adolescent athletes in general, and adolescent soccer players in particular, might be attainable with the support of SPCs in this setting (Harwood & Thrower, 2019;Heidari et al., 2019;Larsen, 2017). ...
... The importance of the integration of SPCs into soccer youth academies could be emphasized by the present finding that adolescent soccer players perceive even one sport psychology workshop, irrespective of its content, and one interaction with an SPC to be useful for them. By fostering a positive attitude in regard to sport psychology and SPCs in soccer youth academies, the implementation of more long-term and profound sport psychology interventions might be feasible (Henriksen et al., 2014). ...
Adolescent soccer players experience many stressors and negative stress-related outcomes. Short-term stress-prevention programs are frequently implemented in youth sports, although there is limited evidence of their usefulness and effectiveness. Thus, the present study evaluated the usefulness and effectiveness of a stress-prevention workshop for adolescent soccer players. Ninety-two soccer players (age: M = 15.5 years, SD = 1.43; 31.5% female) were randomly allocated to either an intervention group or an intervention control group. To evaluate effectiveness, stress, coping, and depression were assessed at baseline (t1) and 4 weeks postworkshop (t2). To investigate usefulness, the perceived quality of results was assessed at t2. No intervention effects on stress, coping, and depression emerged, but both groups exhibited high values regarding perceived quality of results. Although one workshop might not be enough to modify stress-related parameters, it may be useful for adolescent soccer players and pave the way for long-term interventions.
... to be tailored to individual players (e.g., Cottrell et al., 2018) and involve their 698 environment (e.g., coaches, parents) to influence their development, individual 699 and team performance (e.g., Henriksen et al., 2014). In general, delivering sport 700 psychological training or support should focus on long-term strategies to 701 enhance success (e.g., Henriksen et al., 2014). ...
... to be tailored to individual players (e.g., Cottrell et al., 2018) and involve their 698 environment (e.g., coaches, parents) to influence their development, individual 699 and team performance (e.g., Henriksen et al., 2014). In general, delivering sport 700 psychological training or support should focus on long-term strategies to 701 enhance success (e.g., Henriksen et al., 2014). Since esports is currently 702 defined by quick and constant changes in teams, members, and coaching staff, 703 different ways of delivering support strategies need to be explored. ...
To inform future intervention strategies and enhance professional esports players’ performance, this qualitative study investigated stressors, perceived stress responses, and coping strategies experienced by professional League of Legends players. Following criterion-based sampling, semi-structured interviews with 12 professional esports players were performed. The findings illustrate a variety of stressors related to team, performance, audience, and social media. Whereas players reported that perceived stress responses prior to competition (e.g., nervousness and excitement) seemed to be suppressed during competition, post-competition responses appeared to relate to the outcome of competition. Although a range of strategies were identified, players most frequently communicated with teammates or coaches and focused on performance when coping with stressors. Study results demonstrate a need to gain an in-depth understanding of stressors, coping strategies, and their effects on performance. In addition, it seems beneficial to teach players how to recognize and regulate perceived stress responses.
... 246). The authors justified this recommendation by noting that adolescent athletes are becoming an increasingly important client group for SPCs due to the rapid professionalization of youth development programs and the resulting psychological pressure placed on the young athletes (Henriksen et al., 2014). ...
... This favorable initial introduction appears suitable for youth sports, as knowledge about sport psychology in this setting is sometimes vague or even nonexistent, and skepticism with regard to sport psychology services frequently prevails (Johnson, Andersson, & Fallby, 2011). A positive first introduction to and awareness and acceptance of sport psychology services might then facilitate long-term and profound stress-prevention interventions in this setting Henriksen et al., 2014). ...
Depression is a common mental health disorder among competitive athletes that can have detrimental consequences including performance-decline, premature career-dropout, and even suicide. Athletes have been found to be as susceptible to depressive symptoms as non-athletes, and stress has repeatedly been linked to depression in the context of competitive sports. Based on the serious potential consequences of depression in competitive sports, the present dissertation explores depression and stress, and factors associated therewith, in German competitive athletes. An overview of the current body of literature reveals that existing prevalence studies on depression report a broad range of prevalence rates and inconsistent findings regarding the association between depressive symptomatology and demographic variables (e.g., age, level of sport performance). Several of the existing prevalence studies are further characterized by methodological limitations, such as small and unrepresentative sample sizes, and the disregard of the adolescent athlete population. With the intention of addressing the aforementioned limitations of, and research gaps in, prior studies, the aim of study I of this dissertation is the investigation of the prevalence of depressive symptoms in a comprehensive sample of German competitive athletes. A special focus is placed on the examination of the association between the demographic variables age, gender, and level of sport performance and the prevalence of depressive symptomatology. Study I reveals that of 1,799 German competitive athletes, 13.4% were screened positively for depression and 10.2% for impairments in psychological well-being. Adolescent age, female gender, and junior national team status were identified as risk factors for depressive symptoms. For the general population, empirical support for the relationship between depression, stress, and back pain is extensive. Despite the fact that back pain is a widespread issue in competitive sports with adverse performance and (mental) health outcomes for athletes, the relationship between the factor back pain and the psychosocial variables depression and stress has hardly received any scientific attention in competitive sports. To close this research gap, study II of this dissertation investigates the relationship between depression, stress, and back pain in German competitive athletes. Study II reveals that depression and stress are associated with back pain parameters in a population of 154 competitive athletes with back pain. In particular, stress could be linked to pain intensity and depression to pain-related disability. A multitude of empirical findings supports the assumption that adolescence is a sensitive period for the experience of stress and stress-related mental (e.g., depression) and physical (e.g., back pain) health outcomes. In order to transfer knowledge derived from empirical findings and theoretical frameworks to the applied work with competitive athletes, the aim of study III is to develop, implement, and evaluate a theory-based stress-prevention intervention for 92 adolescent soccer players through a randomized controlled trial. The intervention was evaluated on its effectiveness regarding stress, coping, and depression parameters and on its perceived usefulness according to the athletes. No intervention effects on stress, coping, and depression emerged. Notwithstanding, the athletes perceived the stress-prevention intervention to be useful, especially with regard to the improvement of their performance and well-being. This dissertation provides new insights into depression, stress, and factors associated therewith in competitive sports by means of basic research via cross-sectional designs (study I and study II) and a longitudinal preventive intervention study (study III). Considering the average prevalence rate across all three studies, every 10th German competitive athlete was screened positively for depressive symptoms. This observed prevalence rate of depressive symptoms in competitive athletes is akin to the prevalence rate detected in the general German population. This dissertation further indicates that adolescent athletes seem to be more vulnerable to depressive symptomatology than other age groups. Forthcoming studies should consider investigating the mechanisms of stress and stress-related conditions in competitive sports to improve the understanding of their etiology and to deduce effective preventive interventions for the context of competitive sports in general, and for the adolescent athlete population in particular.
... These strategies are usually sports, psychological, social and cultural, academic/work and financial. From psychological strategies, literature highlights having a balance between the different facets of life (Franck et al., 2020;Storm et al., 2014). When working with a player in transition to elite, it is interesting to provide them with services that help them handle different challenges that involve not only being an athlete, but also being a student, child, and so on (Nesti, 2004). ...
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El objetivo del presente artículo es realizar una revisión bibliográfica sobre el proceso de transición deportiva de junior a élite en jugadores de fútbol y baloncesto. Se realizó una búsqueda sistemática siguiendo las indicaciones de la metodología PRISMA. Se usaron las palabras clave “career transition”, “junior-to-senior”, “football OR soccer” o “basketball”, “elite sport”. Como base de datos se usaron SportDiscus, PubMed, y Web of Science. Inicialmente se obtuvieron 670 artículos, que se redujeron a 24 después de aplicar los criterios de exclusión e inclusión. Se han identificado unas barreras, factores y estrategias que es aconsejable que los clubes de fútbol y baloncesto puedan controlar para mejorar el proceso de desarrollo del deportista y se obtenga una tasa de éxito mayor, así como que los deportistas puedan alcanzar un mayor rendimiento deportivo.
... If, due to a lack of psychological literacy, coaches are promoting sub-optimal psychological advice, then players may be at risk of developing poor psychological habits. Thus, in order for sport psychology to be successfully and safely provided to academy soccer players, practitioners should be employed to deliver such content, but further should have a significant role in the education of coaches and other support staff about sport psychology and the importance of delivering sound psychological advice [40]. Additionally, from the findings, it is evident that there is still a stigma attached to the discipline of sport psychology. ...
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Sport psychology has become increasingly recognized and accepted within professional sports, including soccer. To date, there is a lack of research that examines the provision of sport psychology within elite soccer, particularly from the experience of applied practitioners working within the field. The current study adopted a qualitative, inductive approach, to examine the experiences of practitioners responsible for sport psychology delivery within elite soccer academies in England. Seven participants (four females; three males), working within academies in the English Premier League, took part in semi-structured interviews about their experience of delivering sport psychology services within elite soccer academies. Results demonstrated that the provision of sport psychology is continually evolving, yet there are a number of factors that appear to inhibit the full integration of the discipline into academy soccer. Six key themes were identified: The breadth of sport psychology provision; what is sport psychology; the stigma surrounding sport psychology services; psychological literacy; the elite youth soccer environment; and the delivery of sport psychology under the Elite Player Performance Plan. Participants identified a lack of psychological literacy among coaches and academy staff, as well as a low level of guidance regarding the provision of psychology within the England Football Association’s guiding document—the Elite Player Performance Plan—leading to considerable variation in the nature of the sport psychology provision. Future research would do well to also sample from a range of staff working within English soccer academies, in order to assess their perception of the level of provision and understanding of psychology.
... Since all players in this study experience performance pressure, emotional regulation strategies such as breathing techniques (Laborde et al., 2021) and self-talk (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2014) could be effective methods to support players. Importantly, intervention strategies need to be tailored to individual players (Cottrell et al., 2018) and involve their environment (e.g., coaches, parents) to influence their development, individual and team performance (Henriksen et al., 2014). In general, delivering sport psychological training or support should focus on long-term strategies to enhance success. ...
Full-text available
To inform future intervention strategies and enhance professional esports players’ performance, this qualitative study investigated stressors, associated stress responses, and coping strategies experienced by professional League of Legends players. Following criterion-based sampling, semi-structured interviews with 12 professional esports players were performed. The findings illustrate a variety of stressors related to team, performance, audience, and social media. Associated stress responses prior to competition (e.g., nervousness and excitement) seemed to be suppressed during competition, whereas post-competition responses were related to the outcome of competition. Although a range of strategies were identified, players most frequently communicated with teammates or coaches and focused on performance when coping with stressors. Study results show a need to teach players how to recognize and regulate associated stress responses, and to gain an in-depth understanding of stressors, coping strategies, and their effects on performance.
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Driven by the need to inform evidence-based intervention strategies for performance and health promotion in esports, this thesis aimed to provide a starting point for future research on esports and, in particular, psychophysiological stress in esports. To this end, this work began by addressing why and how sport and exercise psychology could research esports. Following this, a systematic review of the literature on stress in non-competitive and competitive esports was performed. The results indicated that playing esports in competitive settings–in contrast to non-competitive settings–seems to be related to psychophysiological stress responses, and also highlighted a number of theoretical and methodological limitations with research in this area. To build on this initial understanding of stress in esports, a qualitative study was conducted that explored the subjective experiences of professional players. Here, a variety of stressors, perceived stress responses, and coping strategies were identified. To complete the work, a different perspective and approach was taken, using an online questionnaire to investigate perceived performance factors and stress management strategies utilized by sport psychologists and performance coaches in esports. Overall, this work provided a number of implications for future research and applied practice that are addressed in this thesis.
The article collects a summary of the experience of the authors at the event "Tennis Mental Point" (TMP), born from the collaboration between the Working Group on Sport Psychology of Regional Councils of the Psychologists of OdP Lazio and Liguria, the Regional Committee of the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) and the Circolo Canottieri Roma. The TMP is a three days tennis federal tournament under 14, in rodeo formula, in which psychological initiatives were developed. The FIT mental trainers have carried out training and practical interventions with young tennis players, their parents and coaches. In particular, the areas of motivation, emotion, concentration and self-efficacy were deeply examined. Furthermore, to investigate the mental abilities of the athletes and to divide them according to their areas of improvement, the Sport Performance Psychological Inventory (IPPS48; Robazza, Bortoli e Gramaccioni, 2009) was administered before the activities. The final goal was to raise awareness and inform the tennis context of the importance of the mental component and its trainability. We believe that similar initiatives have to be undertaken in the future, hoping that this may represent the first of a concrete event series in the sports field with reference to sport psychology.
A highly effective method for disseminating knowledge is to observe the most experienced individuals in the field of interest. Although business, teaching, and coaching have been mentoring and apprenticing students for years, the field of applied sport psychology does not have a long formal history of doing so. The puipose of this article is to capture and present the thoughts, theories, and techniques employed by highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants to formally record what they believe "works when, working with athletes." General topics discussed include: gaining entry, techniques of assessment, delivery of information, and approaches for preparing athletes for "major competitions." Common ideas and practical guidelines are summarized from the authors and discussed in light of current scientific and professional practice knowledge in the field. These consultants do not claim they have all the answers, but rather share their experiences in hopes of providing ideas and facilitating self-reflection concerning consulting effectiveness on the part of the reader.
The theoretical framework presented in this article explains expert performance as the end result of individuals' prolonged efforts to improve performance while negotiating motivational and external constraints. In most domains of expertise, individuals begin in their childhood a regimen of effortful activities (deliberate practice) designed to optimize improvement. Individual differences, even among elite performers, are closely related to assessed amounts of deliberate practice. Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years. Analysis of expert performance provides unique evidence on the potential and limits of extreme environmental adaptation and learning.
Increasing numbers of professional teams and athletes look for assistance with the psychological factors of their performance, and there exists a growing body of professional sport psychologists ready to provide support. Despite this, it seems at times there remains a significant gap between the real needs of sport performers and what is delivered by traditional sport psychology. The existential approach described by Mark Nesti offers a radical alternative to the cognitive and cognitive-behavioural approaches that have dominated sport psychology, and represents the first systematic attempt to apply existential psychological theory and phenomenological method to sport psychology. This much-needed alternative framework for the discipline of applied sport psychology connects to many of the real and most significant challenges faced by sports performers during their careers and beyond. Existential Psychology and Sport outlines an approach that can be used to add something of depth, substance and academic rigour to sport psychology in applied settings beyond the confines of MST and good listening skills.
The purpose of this article is to present practitioners andapplied researchers with specific details of a developmental sport psychology program and coaching intervention at a professional, football (soccer) academy in Great Britain. Based on a positive youth development agenda, initial consulting work with players and parents focused on education and monitoring of the 5Cs of football: Commitment, communication, concentration, control, and confidence. This was subsequently followed up with an educational and behavioral coaching intervention related to integrating the 5Cs in training and practice situations. The 4-month program, aimed to specifically enhance a coach's efficacy in shaping positive psychological and interpersonal skills in young players ranging in age from 9 to 14 years. Six coaches responsible for the development of 95 young players were involved in the program. The results of the intervention are presented for each individual coach and supplemented by interview data. Insights are provided into the role, value, and methodology behind applying sport psychology in youth-sport settings.
Before we go any further, we would like to begin by providing the reader with a step-by-step introduction to the methodological debate surrounding expert interviews. In doing so, we will start with a brief discussion of the generally accepted advantages and risks of expert interviews in research practice (1). We will follow this by outlining current trends in the sociological debate regarding experts and expertise, since expert interviews are — at least on the surface — defined by their object, namely the expert (2). We will then conclude with a look at the current methodological debate regarding expert interviews, an overview of the layout and structure of this book, as well as summaries of the 12 articles it contains (3).
Junior tennis coaches commonly argue that parents must push their children and be very involved to develop their talent, despite the strain on the parent-child relationship that may occur from these tactics. To examine parental influence on talent development and the parent-child relationship, nine professional tennis players, eight parents, and eight coaches were retrospectively interviewed about each player’s junior development based Bloom’s three stages of talent development (1985). Results are presented through aggregated, nonfiction stories of three tennis development pathways: smooth, difficult, and turbulent. Smooth pathways were typical of parents who were supportive and maintained a healthy parent-child relationship while facilitating talent development. Difficult and turbulent pathways involved parents who stressed the importance of tennis and created pressure by pushing their child toward winning and talent development. For difficult pathways, parent-child relationships were negatively affected...
Given the complexity of the talent development process, it seems likely that a range of psychological factors underpin an athlete's ability to translate potential into top-class performance. Therefore, the purpose of part one of this two-part investigation was to explore the attributes that facilitate the successful development of athletes from initial involvement to achieving and maintaining world-class status. Seven elite athletes and a parent of each of these athletes were interviewed regarding their own (their son's/ daughter's) development in sport. Data were content analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Although sporting achievement was conceptualized as being multidimensional, psychological factors were highlighted as the key determinants of those who emerged as talented and maintained excellence. Accordingly, we suggest that talent identification and development programs should place greater emphasis on the advancement and application of psychological behaviors at an early stage to optimize both the development and performance of athletes.