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.
  • Publication
    Doping in elite sport: linking behaviour, attitudes and psychological theory
    Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of research interest in the psychosocial factors associated with competitive athletes’ propensity to use prohibited performance-enhancing drugs. This practice is commonly known as "doping" and typically refers to athletes’ proclivity to use "illegitimate performance enhancement substances and methods" . Although the problem of doping in sport may appear to be a relatively new phenomenon, it has a surprisingly long history. For example, prohibited substances such as caffeine and cocaine were used by cyclists in a bid to enhance competitive performance as far back as the 1890s. Unfortunately, studies on doping in elite athletes are afflicted by at least two unresolved issues. First, the links between doping attitudes and doping behavior have not received sufficient research attention to date. Second, the role of psychological theory in elucidating these links has not been addressed adequately. Therefore, the purpose of the present chapter is to address these two issues.
  • 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.
      1632Scopus© Citations 31
  • 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.
      4108Scopus© Citations 55
  • Publication
    An emerging paradigm: A strength-based approach to exploring mental imagery
    (Frontiers Research Foundation, 2013-04-01) ; ; ;
    Mental imagery, or the ability to simulate in the mind information that is not currently perceived by the senses, has attracted considerable research interest in psychology since the early 1970's. Within the past two decades, research in this field—as in cognitive psychology more generally—has been dominated by neuroscientific methods that typically involve comparisons between imagery performance of participants from clinical populations with those who exhibit apparently normal cognitive functioning. Although this approach has been valuable in identifying key neural substrates of visual imagery, it has been less successful in understanding the possible mechanisms underlying another simulation process, namely, motor imagery or the mental rehearsal of actions without engaging in the actual movements involved. In order to address this oversight, a “strength-based” approach has been postulated which is concerned with understanding those on the high ability end of the imagery performance spectrum. Guided by the expert performance approach and principles of ecological validity, converging methods have the potential to enable imagery researchers to investigate the neural “signature” of elite performers, for example. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explain the origin, nature, and implications of the strength-based approach to mental imagery. Following a brief explanation of the background to this latter approach, we highlight some important theoretical advances yielded by recent research on mental practice, mental travel, and meta-imagery processes in expert athletes and dancers. Next, we consider the methodological implications of using a strength-based approach to investigate imagery processes. The implications for the field of motor cognition are outlined and specific research questions, in dynamic imagery, imagery perspective, measurement, multi-sensory imagery, and metacognition that may benefit from this approach in the future are sketched briefly.
      499Scopus© Citations 26
  • 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.
      3198Scopus© Citations 38
  • 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.
      2710Scopus© Citations 486
  • Publication
    In praise of conscious awareness: a new framework for the investigation of 'continuous improvement' in expert athletes
    (Frontiers, 2014-07) ;
    A key postulate of traditional theories of motor skill-learning (e.g., Fitts and Posner, 1967; Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977) is that expert performance is largely automatic in nature and tends to deteriorate when the performer 'reinvests' in, or attempts to exert conscious control over, proceduralized movements (Masters and Maxwell, 2008). This postulate is challenged, however, by recent empirical evidence (e.g., Nyberg, in press; Geeves et al., 2014) which shows that conscious cognitive activity plays a key role in facilitating further improvement amongst expert sports performers and musicians – people who have already achieved elite status (Toner and Moran, in press). This evidence suggests that expert performers in motor domains (e.g., sport, music) can strategically deploy conscious attention to alternate between different modes of bodily awareness (reflective and pre-reflective) during performance. Extrapolating from this phenomenon, the current paper considers how a novel theoretical approach (adapted from Sutton et al., 2011) could help researchers to elucidate some of the cognitive mechanisms mediating continuous improvement amongst expert performers.
      173Scopus© Citations 39
  • Publication
    The perils of automaticity
    (American Psychological Association, 2015-12) ; ;
    Classical theories of skill acquisition propose that automatization (i.e., performance requires progressively less attention as experience is acquired) is a defining characteristic of expertise in a variety of domains (e.g., Fitts & Posner, 1967). Automaticity is believed to enhance smooth and efficient skill execution by allowing performers to focus on strategic elements of performance rather than on the mechanical details that govern task implementation (see Williams & Ford, 2008). By contrast, conscious processing (i.e., paying conscious attention to one’s action during motor execution) has been found to disrupt skilled movement and performance proficiency (e.g., Beilock & Carr, 2001). On the basis of this evidence, researchers have tended to extol the virtues of automaticity. However, few researchers have considered the wide range of empirical evidence which indicates that highly automated behaviours can, on occasion, lead to a series of errors that may prove deleterious to skilled performance. Therefore, the purpose of the current paper is to highlight the perils, rather than the virtues, of automaticity. We draw on Reason’s (1990) classification scheme of everyday errors to show how an over-reliance on automated procedures may lead to three specific performance errors (i.e., mistakes, slips and lapses) in a variety of skill domains (e.g., sport, dance, music). We conclude by arguing that skilled performance requires the dynamic interplay of automatic processing and conscious processing in order to avoid performance errors and to meet the contextually-contingent demands that characterise competitive environments in a range of skill domains.
      479Scopus© Citations 14