Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
  • Publication
    The practice of applied sport, exercise, and performance psychology: Irish and international perspectives
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2014) ;
    As Chapter 1 has shown, considerable disagreement exists about the boundaries between the fields of sport, exercise, and performance psychology (SEPP). Given this background of uncertainty, the present chapter will focus on establishing some common ground between these disciplines. More precisely, it will investigate Irish and international perspectives on the key skills required by effective SEPP practitioners to help people to do their best when it matters most. We have organized the chapter as follows. To begin with, we shall trace the formal emergence of SEPP in Ireland and explain the practical requirements that applied sport psychology practitioners must satisfy in order to receive accreditation from the relevant national regulating authority—namely, the Irish Sports Council. Next, adopting an international perspective, we analyze the results of interviews with four experienced performance psychology specialists on the lessons that they have learned to date from their professional practice. These specialists were drawn from four different locations: Ireland, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and Australia. In the final section of the chapter, we identify some key current challenges facing practitioners in sport psychology and performance psychology in Ireland.
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  • Publication
    On the importance of critical thinking: a response to Wulf's (2015) commentary
    (Elsevier, 2016-01) ;
    In a recent paper (Toner & Moran, 2015), we argued that continued improvement among elite athletes requires alternation between external and internal foci of attention. In her commentary on this paper, Wulf (2015) claims that we have misunderstood the 'attentional focus' effect. Our rejoinder has three objectives. Firstly, we critically evaluate Wulf’s arguments and counter her false allegations and spurious reasoning. Secondly, we explain our concerns about certain aspects of attentional focusing research. Finally, we propose that in order to explore the dynamic nature of attentional focusing, we need to go beyond restrictive theoretical dichotomies (e.g., 'internal' versus 'external' processes) using new approaches.
      893Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Thinking in action: Some insights from cognitive sport psychology
    (Elsevier, 2012-08)
    Historically, cognitive researchers have largely ignored the domain of sport in their quest to understand how the mind works. This neglect is due, in part, to the limitations of the information processing paradigm that dominated cognitive psychology in its formative years. With the emergence of the embodiment approach to cognition, however, sport has become a dynamic natural laboratory in which to investigate the relationship between thinking and skilled action. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore some insights into the relationship between thinking and action that have emerged from recent research on exceptional performance states (e.g., ‘flow’ and ‘choking’) in athletes. The paper begins by explaining why cognitive psychologists’ traditional indifference to sport has been replaced by a more enthusiastic attitude in recent years. The next section provides some insights into the relationship between thinking and skilled action that have emerged from research on ‘flow’ (or peak performance) and ‘choking’ (or impaired performance) experiences in athletes. The third section of the paper explores some practical issues that arise when athletes seek to exert conscious control over their thoughts in competitive situations. The final part of the paper considers the implications of research on thinking in action in sport for practical attempts to improve thinking skills in domains such as business organizations and schools.
      3397Scopus© Citations 42
  • Publication
    The effects of avoidant instructions on golf putting proficiency and kinematics
    Objectives. Although the effects of avoidant or negative instructions on skilled performance in sport has received little research attention, de la Pena, Murray, and Janelle (2008) reported recently that novice golfers who were instructed not to leave a putt short of a circle, overcompensated by leaving their putts significantly longer than at baseline, and vice versa. It is unclear, however, whether athletes' propensity to engage in over-compensatory behaviour is affected by their level of expertise. Design. To address this unresolved issue, the present study investigated the influence of avoidant instructions on golfers' putting stroke proficiency (i.e., as measured by an index of putting performance and the direction in which putts are missed) and on their putting stroke performance (as measured by motion analysis). Methods. 14 high-skilled and 14 low-skilled golfers were required to putt from a distance of 2.5 m on a sloped surface which caused the ball to move left-to-right as it approached the hole. All participants performed in a condition in which they were given no instructions and in a condition in which they were instructed not to miss a putt in a specific direction (i.e., left or right of the hole). Results. High-skilled golfers' overall putting proficiency was unaffected by avoidant instructions. In contrast, low-skilled golfers' performance was significantly degraded due to disruption of certain kinematic features of their putting stroke (e.g., putter path and forward-swing times).
      887Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    Defining elite athletes: issues in the study of expert performance in sport psychology
    Objectives: There has been considerable inconsistency and confusion in the definition of elite/expert athletes in sport psychology research, which has implications for studies conducted in this area and for the field as a whole. This study aimed to: (i) critically evaluate the ways in which recent research in sport psychology has defined elite/expert athletes; (ii) explore the rationale for using such athletes; and (iii) evaluate the conclusions that research in this field draws about the nature of expertise. Design: Conventional systematic review principles were employed to conduct a rigorous search and synthesise findings. Methods: A comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES and Academic Search Complete was completed in September, 2013 which yielded 91 empirical studies published between 2010 and 2013. The primarily qualitative findings were analysed thematically. Results: Eight ways of defining elite/expert athletes were identified, ranging from Olympic champions to regional level competitors and those with as little as two years of experience in their sport. Three types of rationale were evident in these studies (i.e., 'necessity', 'exploratory' and 'superior'); while findings also indicated that some elite athletes are psychologically idiosyncratic and perhaps even dysfunctional in their behaviour. Finally, only 19 of the 91 included studies provided conclusions about the nature of expertise in sport. Conclusions: This study suggests that the definitions of elite athletes vary on a continuum of validity, and the findings are translated into a taxonomy for classifying expert samples in sport psychology research in future. Recommendations are provided for researchers in this area.
      2781Scopus© Citations 624
  • Publication
    There is more to green reading than meets the eye! Exploring the gaze behaviours of expert golfers on a virtual golf putting task
    (Springer, 2014-08) ;
    Gaze patterns and verbal reports of golfers at three skill levels (professional, elite amateur and club) were recorded as they read the slope of a virtual golf green from six different positions. The results showed that the professional golfers used a more economical gaze pattern consisting of fewer fixations of longer duration than the amateur and club players. Gaze pattern was accompanied by verbal reports that were not significantly more accurate in terms of aiming accuracy, although the professionals were accurate on 76.5 % of putts compared to 57.1 % for the elite and club groups. Two read positions lead to more accurate predictions by the professional golfers only, suggesting distinctive periods of visual perceptual–cognitive attention may underly higher levels of putting skill. Theoretical implications of these results are discussed in relation to the application of visual attention theory to practise, as well as suggestions provided for further research.
      1604Scopus© Citations 18
  • Publication
    Functional equivalence or behavioural matching? A critical reflection on 15 years of research using the PETTLEP model of motor imagery
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2012-10-02) ; ; ;
    Motor imagery, or the mental rehearsal of actions in the absence of physical movement, is an increasingly popular construct in fields such as neuroscience, cognitive psychology and sport psychology. Unfortunately, few models of motor imagery have been postulated to date. Nevertheless, based on the hypothesis of functional equivalence between imagery, perception and motor execution, Holmes and Collins in 2001 developed the PETTLEP model of motor imagery in an effort to provide evidence-based guidelines for imagery practice in sport psychology. Given recent advances in theoretical understanding of functional equivalence, however, it is important to provide a contemporary critical reflection on motor imagery research conducted using this model. The present article addresses this objective. We begin by explaining the background to the development of the PETTLEP model. Next, we evaluate key issues and findings in PETTLEP-inspired research. Finally, we offer suggestions for, and new directions in, research in this field.
      4426Scopus© Citations 61
  • Publication
    Motor Imagery in Clinical Disorders: Importance and Implications
    One of our most remarkable mental capacities is the ability to use our imagination voluntarily to mimic or simulate sensations, actions, and other experiences. For example, we can "see" things in our mind’s eye, "hear" sounds in our mind’s ear, and imagine motor experiences like running away from, or perhaps "freezing" in the face of, danger. Since the early 1900s, researchers have investigated "mental imagery" or the multimodal cognitive simulation process by which we represent perceptual information in our minds in the absence of sensory input.
      388Scopus© Citations 12
  • Publication
    Whatever happened to the third paradigm? Exploring mixed methods research designs in sport and exercise psychology
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2011-11-09) ; ;
    In the past, quantitative and qualitative approaches to research were portrayed as being incompatible, if not mutually exclusive. More recently, however, researchers have explored the possible complementarity of these approaches through mixed methods research (MMR) the so-called third research paradigm. The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature and implications of mixed methods designs for research in sport and exercise psychology. Having sketched the nature and origins of MMR, we highlight some advantages it offers to researchers in sport and exercise psychology. After that, we conclude by identifying some barriers to progress in using mixed methods research in this latter field.
      1782Scopus© Citations 35