Balancing the relationship between mindfulness and mental coaching is key for both athlete and coach. Mental coaching helps the athlete improve and maintain their abilities to increase and then to maintain their performance. Balance is in the maintenance. Developing and maintaining strong mental skills can be the differentiating factor between what makes an athlete an elite athlete. Breaking through mental barriers is a part of this but also maintaining this breakthrough. We live in a nonlinear non-equilibrium environment which is always changing and mental coaching can help maintain the athlete’s mental edge by helping the athlete learn how to be and stay in the best psychological state of mind. This balance is also how to influence the athlete’s emotions and behavior. What goes on inside the athlete’s mind will influence everything the athlete does in training and in competition. Mental coaching helps the athlete learn to understand, manage, and use the brain in an effective way to achieve peak performance. Mindfulness is how to maintain this. Balance between mindfulness and mental performance coaching comes with guided, consistent effort.
The benefits of mindfulness and mental coaching for the athlete include practice with mind-body integration, mindfulness, effortless awareness, controlled breathing, heart rate, self-regulation, psychological resilience, action observation and imagery. These all help the athlete learn stress management skills to perform better under pressure. These also help the athlete become and stay more motivated and goal oriented, increase and maintain self-confidence and identify strengths and become and maintain more consistent in performance. These skills also help the athlete increase focus and concentration skills and then maintain these skills enhancing overall life skills including social, emotional and ethical development, which results in holistic well-being.
Mindfulness and mental coaching for the athlete can help move the athlete to the next level. This should happen in tandem and as probably as often as the athlete works with an athletic coach to learn more about the field and how basic psychological tools such as goal setting, imagery, self-talk and relaxation skills can help boost performance. These all help the athlete learn from a psychological point of view how to become and remain the best possible athlete as they learn how to manage their family, work and sport life in a holistic whole.
Finally mindfulness and mental coaching for the athlete can be used to develop interventions to help maintain mental health by teaching relevant life skills. High performers can be vulnerable to mental health problems due to intense pressure associated with high-pressure environments and mental performance coaches can help the athlete deal with these associated issues. Mindfulness and mental coaching for the athlete can further help manage transitions of athletic identity. The process to develop and then maintain mental skills takes consistent effort overtime just like athletic physical training. The following articles speak to this process.
Birrer, Jackman, Latinjak (2020). Contesting the role of self-talk in sport psychology in views of mindfulness, flow, and mind wandering In Self-Talk In Sport. A. T. Latinjak and A. Hatzigeorgiadis [Eds}. Chapter 15. Routledge, New York, NY.
These authors state that reflexive self-talk interventions share similarities with the
mindfulness-acceptance approach, especially with regards to the centrality of awareness. Arguably, goal-directed self-talk is used by athletes to raise awareness and even foster acceptance.
Chen & Meggs (2020). The effects of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) training on mindfulness, and flow in national competitive swimmers. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise 16(3), https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2021.163.04
The aim of this applied study was to investigate the effects of a mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) program on the mindfulness and flow of adolescent swimmers. Sixteen competitive adolescent swimmers were split into MSPE and relaxation training groups for eight weeks. Participants completed measures of trait and state flow mindfulness pre and post intervention. Test results revealed that the MSPE group improved trait flow characteristics and global trait flow. These results suggested that sport orientated mindfulness interventions can psychologically benefit competitive youth swimmers. These researchers also suggest further research should consider applied designs in investigating the experiences this population with specific mindfulness exercises.
Chiou, Hsu. Chiu. Chou, Gill, & Lu (2020). Seeking Positive Strengths in Buffering Athletes’ Life Stress–Burnout Relationship: The Moderating Roles of Athletic Mental Energy Frontiers in. Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03007
In search of positive strengths that may moderate the athletes’ stress–burnout relationship, these researchers conducted two studies to examine the moderating effects of athletic mental energy on the athletes’ stress–burnout relationship. Results consistently found that athletic mental energy can be positive strengths for athletes in buffering their life stress and stress-induced burnout. These same researchers suggested that more research will explore the positive effects of athletic mental energy in the sports domain not only for the enhancement of the performance but also for the promotion of the athletes’ psychological well-being.
Cooper, Wilson, Jones (2020). Fast talkers? Investigating the influence of self-talk on mental toughness and finish times in 800-meter runners. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1735574
Mental toughness variability and 800 meter finish times were both positively influenced by a personalized self-talk intervention in runners. In addition, as mental toughness increased, 800-meter finish times improved.
Corbally & Wilkinson (2020). Effects of mindfulness practice on performance and factors related to performance in long-distance running: A systematic review Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. 1-23.
For these researchers, fatigue, boredom, pain, performance anxiety, and negative thoughts are challenges characteristic of competitive running. One psychological technique that is gaining support and has been successfully implemented in sport is the practice of mindfulness. Where conventional psychological skills training interventions aim to change dysfunctional thoughts and emotions, mindfulness focuses on altering the relationship to physiological and psychological states. This could help in dealing with the demands of distance running but this has yet to be examined. This article was focused on reviewing mindfulness interventions on performance and performance-based factors in long distance running, assessing (a) mindfulness scores, (b) physiological performance-related factors, (c) psychological performance-related factors, and (d) performance outcomes. A search of relevant electronic databases yielded seven studies, which met the inclusion criteria. The review provides some tentative support for the use of mindfulness interventions regarding: reducing competitive anxiety, attenuating immune responses to high-intensity running, and increasing state mindfulness. However, these researchers saw that because of methodological weaknesses of the studies they reviewed, more research is required using high-quality randomized controlled trial designs.
Denkova, Zanesco, Rogers, & Jha (2020). Is resilience trainable? An initial study comparing mindfulness and relaxation training in firefighters. Psychiatric Research 285, 112794. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112794
Motivated by the growing interest in promoting resilience in first responders and other professionals who face threatening professional circumstances, the current study investigated the effectiveness of offering a short-form mindfulness training program to firefighters. The overarching question was to determine if psychological and cognitive markers of resilience are bolstered via mindfulness training. 121 Firefighters were assigned to a mindfulness-training program, an active-comparison relaxation-training program, or served as no-training controls. Both programs were contextualized for firefighters and consisted of 4, 2-h training sessions delivered over 4 weeks by the same expert trainer, as well as 10–15 min of daily out-of-class practice. Intent-to-treat analyses revealed a significantly greater increase in psychological resilience from baseline to post-training in firefighters who received mindfulness training vs. relaxation training or no training. In addition, positive affect and objective attentional task performance demonstrated a greater increase over time with more days per week of out-of-class practice for the mindfulness-training group but not for the relaxation-training group. These results suggest that mindfulness training more so than relaxation training bolsters markers of resilience in firefighters.
Dohsten, Barker-Ruchti, & Lindren (2020). Caring as sustainable coaching in elite athletics: Benefits and challenges. Sports Coaching Review 9(1) 48-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/21640629.2018.1558896
These researchers found that a caring coaching approach both supports and conflicts with sustainability in elite sport. Caring is expressed as a foundation upon which to build relationships and focus on individual needs. It appears to be of great importance to enable coaches to develop an athlete’s performance over time. However, when coaches practice care and don’t take responsibility for their athletes’ unhealthy and risky needs and choices, caring may reduce an athlete’s sustainability. The findings show that practical wisdom, i.e. responsibility for ethical and moral dilemmas, is of great importance to practicing care as a sustainable practice. These researchers suggest that athletics federations, clubs and coaches prioritise education for sustainability in elite sport. However, more importantly, there is a need for overarching structures and guidelines from federations as well as responsibility on the part of coaches to work with sustainable perspectives. These researchers also suggest further research to explore how elite athletes express their views on sustainability and how athletes could influence sustainable elite practices.
Doron, Rouault, Jubeau, & Bernier (2020). Integrated mindfulness-based intervention: Effects on mindfulness skills, cognitive interference and performance satisfaction of young elite badminton players. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 47, 101638
Research shows numerous Mindfulness- and acceptance-based interventions (MABI) in sport settings need further development and validation to fulfill the desired outcomes related to sport performance according to these researchers. Their study aimed to design and implement a MABI integrated into the badminton training of young elite players (MBI programme), and to investigate its impact on sport performance-related outcomes. Contrasting results highlighted the need to better explore mindfulness mechanisms in MABI and the way they are inter-related, in order to strengthen changes in sport performance-related outcomes.
Eccles, Balk, Gretton, & Harris (2020). “The forgotten session”: Advancing research and practice concerning the psychology of rest in athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1756526
While rest represents an important component of key topics within sport psychology, sport psychologists have paid little attention to this concept and to psychological aspects of rest in particular. These researchers’ goal was to help advance research and practice in this arena. They reviewed the literature in three sport psychology topic areas within which the concept of rest in athletes has received theoretical or empirical attention, which were recovery, motor skill learning, and expert performance. For each area, they also highlighted how rest has received little direct research attention within this literature, identified how this shortcoming limits current research and practice, and proposed directions for future research and practice. These researchers then describe a recent study that has attempted to address the paucity of research on this topic by prioritizing an understanding of the psychology of rest in athletes. Next, they explore reasons why rest has received little attention in sport psychology and conclude by considering implications of this review for best practice. In interactions with athletes, these researchers have heard rest referred to as “the forgotten session”. These researchers further believe their efforts will help promote rest in the minds of researchers and practitioners of sport psychology.
Eke, Adam, Kowalski, & Ferguson (2020). Narratives of adolescent women athletes’ body self-compassion, performance and emotional well-being. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise, and Health 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2019.1628805
Sport participation can be a highly rewarding experience for young women. However, it can also involve unpleasant experiences such as failing to meet performance goals and threats to body image, which may detrimentally impact athletes’ well-being. Body image is salient for women in sport and can also be a source of suffering/challenge. Treating oneself with compassion has been suggested as a resource to buffer against negative outcomes of failure and inadequacy in sport. Body self-compassion may be especially relevant in sport as it consists of a kind and non-judgmental attitude towards the body despite perceived physical imperfections. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of body self-compassion in adolescent women athletes’ performance perceptions and emotional well-being. Seven women athletes (14–17 years old) participated in two, one-on-one semi-structured interviews and a journaling activity. Interviews and journal data were analyzed using a holistic approach to thematic analysis. Four themes were developed that capture the athletes’ perceived role of body self-compassion: (a) Compassion for and confidence in my body, (b) “Their’ thoughts and my body, (c) I will play to my potential, and (d) My strength is in my emotions. The women athletes explained that body self-compassion allows them to respect and treat their bodies with kindness; thus, positive emotions such as satisfaction with the body were strengthened and an adaptive focus placed on performance. These findings are consistent with the conceptualization of self-compassion and body self-compassion and suggest that being body self-compassionate may regulate emotions and sport performance perceptions.
Ferguson & Hall (2020). A voice unheard: A qualitative exploration of varsity athletes’ perspective on the use of biofeedback postintervention. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology.Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000204
Although research examining the effects of biofeedback on sport performance has provided valuable insight into self-awareness and self-regulation strategies to manage and control psychophysiological stress states, no research has qualitatively explored athletes’ perspectives of biofeedback. The purpose of this study was to give athletes a voice in regard to their experiences and perceptions of biofeedback training postintervention. A qualitative descriptive approach was taken through semistructured interviews with 5 varsity athletes following a 5-session biofeedback intervention training respiration rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance. An inductive thematic analysis uncovered 4 themes: knowledge of tool (i.e., psychophysiological control, synchronization of physiological functions), enhanced self-regulation skills (i.e., preperformance routine, coping with adversity, breathing techniques), use of skills outside of sport (i.e., academic performance), and application of biofeedback (i.e., application in sport). Physiological measures per session are also presented. Athletes perceived biofeedback to enhance self-regulation ability in sport and academics, contributing to perceptions of superior performance. Qualitative research seems to be a promising way to determine an individual’s response to biofeedback by providing evidence to service providers on the value of biofeedback in terms of performance quality. Overall, findings from the current study highlight the positive implications of biofeedback training through the development of self-regulation, lending qualitative support to the quantitative evidence in the sport and performance literature
Flett, Nepon, Hewitt, & Rose (2020). Why perfectionism is antithetical to mindfulness: A conceptual and empirical analysis and consideration of treatment implications. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-020-00252-w
These researchers consider the broad question of “Why is perfectionism antithetical to mindfulness?” and examine the implications for the treatment of perfectionists suffering from stress-related illnesses and disorders. In addition, they review past research on perfectionism and mindfulness. Finally, these researchers also report two empirical studies with university students evaluating the link between perfectionism and dispositional mindfulness. The findings from these studies demonstrate uniquely that socially prescribed perfectionism and facets of perfectionistic self-presentation are both associated with low mindfulness. Additionally, mindfulness was a mediator of the associations between interpersonal facets of perfectionism and depression in study 2. Collectively, the findings suggest that people who experience pressures to be perfect and who are engaged excessively in extreme self-presentation can benefit substantially from increased mindfulness, but it is particularly difficult for certain perfectionists to develop a state of mindfulness that is not consonant with their personality, temperament, and orientation toward life. The implications for the treatment of distressed perfectionists are discussed.
Glick, Stillman, & McDuff (2020). Update on integrative treatment of psychiatric symptoms and disorders in athletes. The Physician and Sportsmedicine https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.2020.1757370
In this review, researchers detail the issues and disorders athletes present with, guidelines for making diagnostic formulations and treatment goals, and strategies for delivering integrated treatment attuned to the athlete and their team and/or sport. In addition, these researchers highlight special issues associated with athletes and their families. Development of specific models of psychiatric intervention for athletes with significant psychopathology and impairment appears to be warranted. These interventions should include individual, family/marital, and group psychotherapy with or without medication using evidence-based treatments.
Gotwals & Tamminen (2020). Intercollegiate perfectionistic athletes’ perspectives on success and failure in sport. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1740826
Through interviews and season-long diaries, this study explored ten perfectionistic athletes’ perspectives on success and failure. Findings revolved around desires to continually improve, demonstrate legitimacy, and work hard. The degree to which these perspectives were associated with negative responses to failure generally depended on the specific form of perfectionism endorsed. It is important to recognize the nature of athletes’ perfectionistic tendencies as pure personal standard perfectionists and mixed perfectionists reported meaningful similarities and differences in how they conceptualize, experience, and respond to success and failure in sport. Mixed perfectionistic athletes appeared to endorse a set of irrational beliefs that contributed to their vulnerability to distress following failure. Cognitive-behavioral therapy could be used to address these irrational beliefs. Following the success, coaches and practitioners should be attentive to developments in perfectionistic athletes’ beliefs and foster their ability to adaptively appraise and cope with emergent demands. Practitioners adopting a narrative approach to therapy and working with intercollegiate athletes who endorse pure personal standards perfectionism or mixed perfectionism could use the present findings to help the athletes make meaning about their own experiences of success and failure.
Hasanah & Refanthira (2020). Human problems: Completive anxiety in sport performer and various treatments to reduce it. Proceedings of the 5th ASEAN Conference on Psychology, Counseling and Humanities (ACPCH 2019). Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research. https://dx.doi.org/10.2991/assehr.k.200120.031
In the field of sports, one of the psychological factors that hinder the athlete’s optimal performance is excessive anxiety. Anxiety associated with a competitive or competition situation is called competitive anxiety. Treatment is important so that athletes can reduce competition anxiety and optimize their performance in competition. This article discusses the interventions that have been carried out by previous studies to reduce competition anxiety in athletes. The method used is systematic review. Literature criteria used interventions to reduce competition anxiety in athletes. There are 23 works of literature in the form of articles and journals that meet the selection criteria, which were analyzed and translated descriptively. The results of the literature review showed that Self-talk, Guide Imagery, Yoga, Relaxation and Mindfulness proved effective in reducing competitive anxiety in athletes with some similarities in the subject’s age criteria, the subject’s sports type, and other factors. The treatments were even more effective when combined, such as a combination of relaxation and imagery, or a combination of self-talk, imagery, and relaxation.
Hayes, Filo, Geurin, & Riot (2020). An exploration of the distractions inherent to social media use among athletes. Sport Management Review. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2019.12.006
Social media present athletes with a number of benefits and challenges. As a result, various sport stakeholders debate appropriate social media use among athletes at major sport events, suggesting that using these platforms can have negative consequences. The purpose of this research was to examine the elements of social media that athletes perceive to be distracting during major sport events and the practices they undertake to address such distractions. These researchers conducted interviews with 15 Australian elite athletes and then analysed data using thematic analysis. The findings reveal several elements associated with distraction, including positive and unwanted messages, branding pressures, and competitor content. Athletes reported two key practices that assisted in overcoming distractions, including switching off and handing over the control of their social media accounts. According to these researchers, their findings extend distraction-conflict theory to athlete social media research, while presenting a preliminary conceptual model to assist researchers in further understanding the potential impact of social media distractions on athletes. Opportunities for sport practitioners to develop or implement social media education programs are described.
Hill, Schucker, Wiese, Hagemann, & Strauss (2020). The influence of mindfulness training on running economy and perceived flow under different attentional focus conditions – an intervention study. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2020.1739110
Training of mindfulness has gained relevance in sports teaching present moment regulation that is crucial to athletic performance. These researchers examine the impact of mindfulness training on flow experience and running economy within four attentional foci. Trained runners attended an eight-week mindfulness programme. Before and after the programme, they ran on a treadmill at moderate intensity under four attention conditions (focus on internal body signals, external video, core component of the movement, control focus). Trained runners obtained the mindfulness programme after completing the required interventions and then researchers examined if mindfulness training promotes flow and leads to changes in running economy. These researchers concluded that their study showed benefits of practicing mindfulness on subjective (flow) and objective parameters (oxygen consumption) improving running performance.
Hunt, Novak, Madrigal, & Vargas (2020). Strategies for developing mental toughness in high school athletes. Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators 33(1), 14-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/08924562.2019.1680330
Coaches have the possibility to shape their athletes’ experiences in sport and build a strong skillset, particularly the growth of mental toughness. It is important for athletes to develop the mental and physical components needed to overcome obstacles and maintain consistency. These researchers provide strategies for high school coaches to implement with their teams to develop and enhance mental toughness.
Hussey, Weinberg, & Assar (2020). Mindfulness in sport: An intervention for a choking-susceptible athlete. Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology 4(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1123/cssep.2019-0025
Although antecedents of choking under pressure have been studied, prevention efforts have been somewhat inconsistent. Current choking-susceptibility criteria include trait anxiety, self-consciousness, and coping style. In the present case study, a college track-and-field athlete was self-identified as choking susceptible, and a sport-specific mindfulness intervention to reduce levels of anxiety and alter coping to reduce choking susceptibility was implemented. The athlete completed the 6-wk Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) program. Trait and state mindfulness were assessed throughout the program, with a follow-up 6-week post intervention to gain further insight into the continuing effects of the mindfulness training. Visual analysis and quantitative and qualitative data demonstrated increases in mindfulness levels and changes in both anxiety, self-consciousness and coping, resulting in the participant’s failing to meet the choking-susceptibility criteria post intervention, indicating a reduced likelihood of choking in future performances according to these researchers. Enhanced mindfulness levels promoted greater awareness and acceptance, which may help counter the negative effects of stressful sport performances.
Jang, Ahn, Kwon (2020). Relationships between implicit beliefs and mental toughness: The role of implicit beliefs of adolescent football players and their coaches. Journal of Physical Education and Sport 20(1), 156-163. doiI:10.7752/jpes.2020.01021
This study offered important contributions to the study of both implicit beliefs and mental toughness (MT) in the perspective of Social Cognitive Model of Motivation (SCMM). It is the first study to explore the relationship between implicit beliefs and MT within the sporting domain. It is also the first study to incorporate perceptions of coach’s implicit beliefs as a possible moderating factor linking of that relationship. Most important, the study investigates these novel relationships using the SCMM as a theoretical framework. These researchers explored the relationship between ‘implicit belief as a social- cognitive system’ and ‘mental toughness as a behavioral signature of athlete,’ and presented some evidence supporting it. In order to improve the MT of adolescent football players, who are exposed to continuous and repetitive competitive environments, players need to perceive their own potential as well as coach’s incremental beliefs. Despite the limitation of measurement tools and the cross-sectional nature of the study, the findings could be utilized in the development of interventions to promote MT through incremental-strategy coaching behavior.
Jha, Zanesco, Denkova, Rooks, Morrison, & Stanley (2020). Comparing mindfulness and positivity trainings in high-demand cohorts, Cognitive Therapy and Research 44, 311-326. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-020-10076-6
Attention and working memory are at risk of degradation over intensive intervals in groups engaged in highly demanding jobs. Accordingly, there is great interest in identifying training regimes to promote cognitive resilience in such populations. In this study, researchers assigned 40 US Army Soldiers to either an 8-week, 16-h mindfulness training (MT) program or to a well-matched active comparison program involving positivity training, during an intensive interval of predeployment training. Researchers assessed working memory (WM) and sustained attention task performance, as well as self-reported positive and negative trait affect, at study onset (T1) and at the end of the MT/PT program interval (T2). Positive and negative trait affect did not change over time or differ across training groups. Yet, overall decline in cognitive task performance was observed from T1 to T2. Importantly, the MT group demonstrated significantly less decline in cognitive task performance relative to the PT group, suggesting better protection from cognitive degradation over time. Based on these results, these researchers argue that MT should be further explored as a cognitive resilience-building tool in high-demand cohorts.
Kaur, H. (2018). Mindfulness and meditation in sports. International Educational Applied Scientific Research Journal 3(6). e-ISSN : 2456-5040 Retrieved from http://ieasrj.com/journal/index.php/ieasrj/article/viewFile/157/137
One of the most important aspects of sports performance is the athlete’s ability to train the mind to put themselves in the best situation to compete. This can come in many different forms. Mindfulness and meditation are the main areas of focus. Many different theories have been studied. It is important to train the mind just as you train the body. Using the mind, techniques have been shown to increase athletic ability and focus. This paper is about how mindfulness techniques have been used to increase performance and the athletes’ ability to cope with inner and external stimuli to increase the competitive edge.
Lebrun, MacNamara, Collins, & Rodgers (2020). Supporting young elite athletes with mental health issues: Coaches’ experience and their perceived role. The Sport Psychologist 34(1), 43-53. https://doi.org/10.1123/tsp.2019-008110.1123tps://
This study explored talent-development coaches’ experiences of athletes having faced mental health issues (MHIs). A second objective was to allow participants to share their opinion on how sport environments could improve the support offered to coaches and athletes encountering MHIs. A thematic analysis was performed on 11 verbatim-transcribed interviews conducted with UK-based talent-development coaches. While monitoring and supporting their athletes’ performance and well-being were viewed as day-to-day practice, dealing with MHIs was, however, not considered part of their role for a variety of reasons. Findings also suggest that coaches need more suitable and context-specific knowledge and tools to appropriately respond to and support their athletes. Generating a better understanding of coaches’ perceived role, knowledge, and needs to adequately support their athletes suffering from MHIs is crucial for the design of sport-specific interventions and for the athletes themselves.
Mack, Wilson, Kelley, & Mooradian (2020). Teaching well-being within the context of sport: What, why, how and for whom? In: G. Tonan [ed]. Teaching quality of life in different domains. Social indicators research series, vol. 79. Springer. Cham.
The purpose of this chapter is to detail pedagogical content tailored to teaching well-being within the context of sport through four evidence-based modules. Defining quality of life and well-being will serve as the focus of the first module (i.e., What). Once these key components are defined, consideration of subjective measures to identify how people experience their lives and are functioning are examined. The second module, will highlight Why consideration of well-being in sport are meaningful. Authors highlight current research evidence linking sport participation to quality of life/well-being outcomes and also examine how well-being can be promoted or thwarted in the third module through consideration of relevant psychological theories and interventions. Finally, the fourth module focuses on distinct groups of athletes (i.e., For Whom) including sport participants living with physical and intellectual disabilities, athletes undergoing injury rehabilitation and current/former athletes transitioning beyond sport.
Mannes, Ferguson, Perlstein, Waxenberg, Cottler, & Ennis (2020). Negative health consequences of pain catastrophizing among retired National Football League athletes. Health Psychology, 39(5), 452-462. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000847
This study examined the association between pain catastrophizing with pain interference, depressive symptoms, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among National Football League (NFL) retirees. 90 Former NFL athletes from the Retired NFL Players Association were recruited from 2018 to 2019 via telephone and were administered measures of pain, substance use, depressive symptoms, and HRQoL. Researchers examined the association of pain catastrophizing with pain interference, depressive symptoms, and HRQoL while controlling for covariates (pain intensity, concussions, opioid use, binge alcohol use, years since NFL retirement, and marital status) with multiple linear and binomial regression analyses. Many retired NFL athletes reported moderate-severe depressive symptoms as well as poorer perceived physical health compared with general medical patients. Greater pain catastrophizing was associated with more severe pain interference, greater odds of reporting moderate-severe depressive symptoms, and lower odds of reporting average and above physical and mental HRQoL after adjusting for relevant covariates. Concussions were not associated with any of the study outcomes. These researchers concluded that given the findings from this study, health care professionals should monitor symptoms of catastrophizing among current and retired NFL athletes. Assessment and requisite treatment of pain catastrophizing may assist these elite athletes in reducing depressive symptoms, while improving pain interference and HRQoL in this population.
Minkler, Glass, & Hut (2020). Mindfulness training for a college team: Feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness from within an athletic department. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1739169
In addition to direct delivery of mindfulness training to athletes, sport psychology professionals may be able to affect positive change by offering train-the-trainer services to coaches instead, potentially contributing to the sustainable, long-term integration of mindfulness into university athletic departments. Following supervised mindfulness training and the establishment of their own continuing mindfulness practice, the results of the present study suggest that collegiate coaches can feasibly deliver a mindfulness intervention to an entire team with a high degree of acceptability and athlete engagement. Having coaches trained in mindfulness could impact student-athlete well-being and performance satisfaction, and may be especially beneficial for secondary school or university-level athletic departments that lack the financial resources to employ a sport psychology professional.
Moesch, Ivarsson, & Johnson. (2020). “Be mindful even though it hurts”: A single-case study testing the effects of a mindfulness- and acceptance-based intervention on injured athletes’ mental health. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
The aim of this study was to investigate whether a mindfulness- and acceptance-based intervention can improve mindfulness (defined by these researchers as nonreactivity and acting with awareness), acceptance, and well-being, and decreases the level of symptoms of anxiety and depression. These researchers used a single-case design with multiple, staggered, and nonconcurrent baselines. Six seriously injured athletes took part in an 8-week intervention and repeatedly completed questionnaires on all variables for the duration of the study. The results showed that, on average, there were significant clinical changes between phases in nonreactivity, well-being, and acceptance. No effect was seen in the two remaining scales. On an individual level, two participants showed effects in all scales, two participants in some of the scales, and two participants in the scale nonreactivity.
Muir & Munroe-Chandler (2020). Using infographics to promote athletes’ mental health: Recommendations for sport psychology consultants. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action. https://doi.org/10.1080/21520704.2020.1738607
Mental illness among elite and intercollegiate student-athletes is of growing concern, as researchers have found high rates of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among this population. As a result, a call has been made for sport psychology consultants (SPC) to increase their contribution to promoting athletes’ mental health. Infographics can be used as a mental health promotional tool given their ability to visually communicate complex information. This paper draws on the infographic literature in healthcare and education to provide SPC with recommendations for creating infographics to promote mental health among elite and student-athletes with whom they consult. Tips are also provided on effective implementation of infographics in the sport environment.
Naderi, Shaabani, Zandi, Calmeiro, & Brewer (2020). The effects of a mindfulness-based program on the incidence of injuries in young male soccer players. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 42(2), 161-171.
These researchers tested the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program in reducing sport-injury incidence. A total of 168 young male elite soccer players were randomly assigned to mindfulness and control groups. The mindfulness group consisted of seven sessions based on the mindfulness-acceptance-commitment approach, while the control group consisted of seven presentations on sport-injury psychology. Athlete exposure and injury data were recorded during one season. State and trait mindfulness, sport anxiety, stress, and attention control of participants were assessed. Number of injuries, average of injuries per team, and days lost to injury in the mindfulness group were significantly lower than those in the control group. Mindfulness and attention control were lower and sport anxiety and stress were higher in injured players than in noninjured players. Psychological variables were associated with injury. Mindfulness training may reduce the injury risk of young soccer players due to improved mindfulness and attention control and reduced sport anxiety
Newland, Gitelson, & Legg (2020). Examining the relationship between mental skills and grit in senior Olympic athletes. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity pp 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1123/japa2019-0304
Given the challenge of consistent physical activity among aging adults, it is important to find ways to increase physical activity levels in this population. Participants in the Senior Olympic Games may extend their sport participation through the use of mental skills. This study examined the relationship between mental skills use by Senior Olympic Games participants and their grit, or passion and perseverance, toward a long-term goal. The 304 participants in the Arizona Senior Olympic Games completed an online survey of mental skills use (Athletic Coping Skills Inventory) and grit (Grit Scale-Short). Based on the ongoing validity and reliability issues of the Grit Scale-Short, two regression models were examined, with consistency of interests (passion) and perseverance of effort (perseverance) as dependent variables. After controlling for age and sex, mental skills accounted for 15.2% of the variance in consistency of interests and 13.1% of the variability in perseverance of effort.
Noetel, Ciarroch, Conigrave, & Lonsdale (2020). Can a brief mindfulness intervention improve sport performance? A double-blind ramdomised controlled study. PsyArXiv Preprints. doi:10.31234/osf.io/8bk7m
According to these researchers, their study is the first prospectively registered, double blind, randomised trial assessing the effects of mindfulness in athletes. A brief intervention did not influence state mindfulness or practice.
Nourouzi, Gerber, Masrour, Vaezmosavi, Puhse, & Brand (2020). Implementation of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and to improve psychological well-being among retired Iranian football players. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 47 101636 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101636
The present findings suggest that among male retired Iranian football players, a MBSR intervention has the potential to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and to increase their psychological well-being. Potential (underlying) mechanisms were not assessed in the present study and these researchers suggest that in future investigations, researchers should try to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms which may help explain the observed effects.
Novan, Hidayah, Erawan, Komarudin, Awwaludin, & Mustaqim (2020). Implementation of life kinetic mental training method in order to improve the competency of coaches in psychological training for athletes. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Sport Science, Health, and Physical Education (ICSSHPE 2019). Series: Advances in Health Sciences Research. https://doi.org/10.2991/ahsr.k.200214.067
This research based-community service is carried out based on the fact that sports achievement development in Ciamis regency is still relatively low and only certain sports could achieve medals at the 2014 West Java Regional Sports Games (PORDA), in Bekasi. This study was conducted as an education and training program in the form of Life Kinetik implementation training methods for sports coaches so that they will understand this training method and able to implement it during their coaching session. Sports achievement on that regency has dramatically decreased in recent years. Whereas, on previous PORDA, Ciamis regency was one of the barometer cities in West Java for sports achievement. This is because that regency had many representatives to compete on National Sports Games (PON). The observational trial method used in this study. 28 sports coaches were involved and were also members of the National Sports Committee in the Ciamis Regency. Based on the findings, these researchers conclude that the Life Kinetik training program gives significant psychological effects for athletes to be applied in training sessions.
Parsons, Anderson, Casa, & Hainline (2020). Preventing catastrophic injury and death in collegiate athletes: interassociation recommendations endorsed by 13 medical and sports medicine organisations. British Journal of Sports Medicine 54(4), Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/54/4/208.full.pdf
In summary, since 1970, traumatic deaths have undergone a steep and steady decline; non-traumatic deaths, however, have remained steady since 1960. The current era, from 2000 to present, is notable for year-round training for football coupled with the highest incidence of non-traumatic sport-related training deaths in football in recorded history. A major goal of this document is to identify a proper combination of strategies to prevent the condition from arising in the first place; insurance of optimal medical care delivery by key stakeholders onsite; and transparency and accountability in workouts.
Popa, Mindrescu, Iconomescu, & Talaghir (2020). Mindfulness and self-regulation strategies predict performance of Romanian handball players. Sustainability 12(9), 3667. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093667
Performance can be achieved by attentional and emotional regulation alongside cognitive, metacognitive and procedural regulation strategies. These researchers explore the association between self-regulation strategies, mindfulness practice and performance. Their sample consists of 288 Romanian handball players. The participants were 30% male and 70% female, with ages between 12 and 14 years old, divided in three categories. The quantitative research design is descriptive and transversal. The method was survey based on questionnaires. The variables (state mindfulness of body, self-monitoring, and self-efficacy) explained 87% of the variance in sports performance, in a hierarchical multiple regression. The research findings indicated that handball players with a high level of acceptance of one’s own thoughts and emotions, non-judging present-moment awareness, conscious monitoring the execution of movements, and confidence in their abilities to succeed could have more chances to achieve the desired performance.
Rancourt, Brauer, Palermo, Choquette, & Stanley (2020). Response to Tomalski et al. (2019): Recommendations for Adapting a Comprehensive Athlete Mental Health Screening Program for Broad Dissemination. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action 11(1). 57-67. https://doi.org/10.1080/21520704.2020.1722770
Mental health screening of athletes is of increasing concern to key stakeholders (e.g., sport administrators, psychologists, performance consultants, and coaches) at many institutions and governing bodies in the United States. Recently, Tomalski et al. (2019) described the implementation of a comprehensive collegiate student-athlete mental health-screening program, including recommendations for professionals interested in replicating this program at other institutions. This excellent program involves resources and staffing that many institutions may not have. The current paper describes a variety of recommended adaptations of this comprehensive program and additional considerations to help professionals who have fewer resources or less institutional support to implement key aspects of student-athlete mental health screening. Specifically, recommendations for how to address staffing and time limitations, identify mental health providers, select screening questionnaires that maximize classification accuracy, and encourage accurate student-athlete reporting of mental health concerns are provided. Moreover, these researchers emphasize the importance and utility of supporting mental health literacy of coaching staff as a cornerstone to effective mental health screening and intervention with collegiate student-athletes.
Raphiphatthana & Jose (2020). The relationship between dispositional mindfulness and grit moderated by mediation experience and culture. Mindfulness 11, 587-598. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01265-w
The present study was designed to examine the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and grit in community samples and to explore the potential moderating role of culture and meditation experience across the USA and Thai cultures. Results from the path analyses and moderation suggest that mindful individuals tend to also be gritty regardless of cultural backgrounds or meditative experience.
Reina & Kudesia (2020). Wherever you are, there you become: How mindfulness arises in everyday situations. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
These reserachers suggest that mindfulness is not something entirely inherent within people but is partly elicited and shaped by situations. Integrating research on metacognitive practice and self-regulation, they introduce a theoretical framework that explains how mindfulness arises based on capacity for self-regulation as well as three motivational forces: metacognitive beliefs that drive resources into self-regulation, mental fatigue that draws resources away from self-regulation, and situational appraisals that influence how much self-regulation is needed to maintain mindfulness. Across three experience sampling studies that include 558 participants and 9,390 responses, these researchers find that: mindfulness depends less on people’s overall capacity for self-regulation than it does on the metacognitive beliefs that motivate them to allocate their resources, these metacognitive beliefs can compensate for the negative role of mental fatigue, and situations can influence mindfulness both by pulling attention toward challenging tasks and away from them with organizational hindrances. In sum, this article clarifies the understudied antecedents of mindfulness through a theoretical framework and empirical findings.
Rice, Olive, Gouttebarge, Parker, Clifton, Harcourt, et al. (2020). Mental health screening: severity and cut-off point sensitivity of the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire in male and female elite athletes. BMJ Open sport & exercise medicine. 6(1), http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000712
By providing a range of cut-off scores identifying those scoring in the marginal and elevated ranges, the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire
(APSQ) may better facilitate earlier identification for male and female elite athletes vulnerable to mental health symptoms and developing syndromes. Use of the APSQ may support sports medicine practitioners and allied health professionals to detect early mental ill health manifestations and facilitate timely management and ideally, remediation of symptoms.
Schinke, Papaioannou, Henriksen, Si, Zhang, & Haberl (2020). Sport psychology services to high performance athletes during COVID-19. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2020.1754616
These are trying times for us all. COVID-19 has altered our lives as citizens. The changes associated with the current pandemic have presented sport and exercise psychologists with many challenges and opportunities related to sport performance, physical activity and health. Here, we focus on what was, and is presently, being encountered by mental performance consultants in relation to the aspiring Olympic athletes they are supporting. Within recent weeks, mental performance consultants working with Olympic aspirants have evidenced a growing number of suggestions how aspiring athletes might proceed in their sports and in their broader lives, based on their national conditions and regional responses to the pandemic. Each national funding agency, Olympic committee, federal government, and sport organization, is rolling out strategies of how mental performance consultants can work effectively with clients in what for many, but not all, is a socially distanced world.
Shaabani, Naderi, Borella, & Calmeiro (2020). Does a brief mindfulness intervention counteract the detrimental effects of ego depletion in basketball free throw under pressure? Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 9(2), 197–215. https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000201
Research has shown that a brief mindfulness intervention may counteract the depleting effects of an emotion suppression task upon a subsequent psychological task that requires self-control. However, the effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on perceptual–motor tasks particularly in stressful situations have not yet been examined. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a brief mindfulness intervention can counteract the detrimental effects of ego depletion in basketball free throw performance under pressure. Seventy-two basketball players were randomly assigned to one of the following 4 groups: depletion/mindfulness, no depletion/mindfulness, depletion/no mindfulness, and control (no depletion/no mindfulness). The subjects in the mindfulness intervention participated in a 15-min breath and body mindfulness audio exercise, and those in the control condition (no mindfulness) listened to an audio book. A modified Stroop color-word task was used to manipulate self-control and induce ego depletion. Participants performed 30 free throws before and after the experimental manipulations. Results showed that basketball players’ free throw performance decreased after ego depletion, but when ego depletion was followed by the mindfulness intervention, free throw performance was maintained at a level similar to the control group. The results of this study indicate that a brief mindfulness intervention mitigates the effects of ego depletion in a basketball free-throw task.
Shannon, Hanna, Leavey, et al. (2020). The association between mindfulness and mental health outcomes in athletes: Testing the mediating role of autonomy satisfaction as a core psychological need. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2020.1717578
Mindfulness may improve well-being through increasing one’s ability to self-regulate stressors, which are common and multifaceted among the student-athlete population. However, the mechanisms for influencing such effects lack a theoretical basis. Therefore, these researchers sought to (i) determine the relationship between mindfulness, well-being and stress in student-athletes, and (ii) assess the mediating role of autonomy satisfaction, an innate psychological need required for optimal well-being according to Self-Determination Theory. This was a cross-sectional study of 240 student-athletes (aged 20.5 with 53.7% males). Mindfulness and autonomy were regressed onto well-being (Model 1) and stress (Model 2) in multivariate regression models assessing direct and indirect mediating mechanisms. More than a third of athletes scored low on well-being, and only 3% high, and a significant proportion of variance was explained in both models. Mindfulness directly predicted autonomy satisfaction, and stress. Autonomy satisfaction also directly predicted well-being and stress, whilst partially mediating the association between mindfulness and well-being and stress. Thee researchers conclude that mindfulness may improve well-being and reduce stress through increasing athletes’ capacity to self-regulate, satisfying the psychological need for autonomy
Sutcliffe & Greenberger (2020). Identifying psychological difficulties in college athletes. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2020.03.006
Psychological conditions occur frequently in college students. One contributing factor is the onset of most mental health disorders occurring in late adolescence and early adulthood, as well as the identity formation and individuation that is typical of this developmental stage. Precollege trauma (emotional, physical, sexual, and witness to violence) and lower socioeconomic status can set the stage for psychological difficulties. Some of many stressors that may affect college athletes include peer pressures, independence, need to please family, friends, and coaches, high level of expectations with a very strong commitment to succeeding and winning in competitive and intense intercollegiate sports, time management for academic demands, sports, relationships, and well-being, mood status, history of mental illness, injuries including concussions, and adjusting to the length of time for recovery from injuries, fears of reinjury, or return-to-play concerns, managing body and weight concerns related to performance, and unexpected medical conditions such as infectious mononucleosis. A case is presented of a patient who is a college student-athlete with mild intermittent asthma and seasonal allergic rhinitis who was found to have generalized anxiety, surreptitious cannabis use, and bulimic symptoms. He was angry at his position coach because of lack of playing time.
Terzioglu, Yildiz, Cakir (2020). Examining the effectiveness of mindfulness based training program on female handball players’ psychological skills and coping with stress strategies. Turk Spor ve Egzersiz Dergisi 22(1), 30-37. Retrieved from http://dergipark.gov.tr/tsed
These researchers examine the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based training program on female handball athletes’ psychological skills and strategies to cope with stress in sport. Researchers used a quasi-experimental method, pre-test, and post-test model without a control group. The study group consisted of 9 female handball players who play in the Antalya Muratpa?a Municipality Women’s Handball Team. Researchers used a personal information questionnaire, the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory and Coping Strategies in Sport Competition Inventory to collect data as pre-test before the program and as post-test at the end of the program. Researchers implemented the Mindfulness-Based Training Program once a week as group training, consisting of 8 sessions lasted 60 minutes each. Researchers also used the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test to test the significance of the scope difference. As a result of the study, after the program, there was a significant difference in terms of ability to cope with adversity, coachability, concentration, goal setting and mental preparation, and being free from worries. Moreover, these researchers noted a significant difference between pre-test and post-test scores of the task-oriented coping dimension in Sport Competition Inventory.
Toner, & Moran, (2020). Toward an explanation of continuous improvement in expert athletes: The role of consciousness in deliberate practice. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(6), 666-675. https://doi.org/10.7352/IJSP.2015.46.666
In a body of research spanning three decades, Janet Starkes and her colleagues have produced a wealth of empirical evidence on the importance of deliberate practice in the development of elite performers. Within this corpus of work, a number of studies have alluded to the important role that self-focused attention plays in helping skilled athletes to refine inefficient movements during deliberate practice. Unfortunately, these studies have largely under-represented the role that somatic awareness plays in facilitating further improvement amongst sports performers who have already achieved elite status. In seeking to address this issue of continuous improvement in elite athletes, these researchers explore evidence to suggest that reflective somatic awareness plays an important role in the practice activities of elite performers. In particular, they argue that such awareness enables elite athletes to consciously and deliberately improve their movement proficiency. More generally, these researchers propose that Shusterman’s (2008) theory of “somaesthetic awareness” offers expertise researchers a potentially fruitful theoretical framework for future research on skill advancement at the elite level of sport.
Turgut & Yasar (2020). Mental training of college student elite athletes. Journal of Education and Learning 9(1), 51-59. https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v9n1p51
In order to achieve the expected high performance, athletes must be physically, technically, tactically and socially ready as well as being psychologically ready and strong. In this context, mental training of athletes is also important. Mental training means that athletes adjust and control their own sports behavior by adopting specific ways to promote psychological state. Aim of this research was to determine the level of mental training application of professional athletes and differences according to some variables. The sample consisted of 485 professional athletes who were university students still competing in 4 different sports in Turkey. These sports were football, handball, basketball and volleyball. Data collection tool consisting of two parts was used in the research. In the first part of the data collection tool, a questionnaire consisting of the personal information of the participants was used. In the second part, Developed by Benkhe et al. (2017) and adapted to Turkish by Yarayan and I?lhan (2018), “Mental Training in Sports Inventory” consisting of 5 sub-dimensions and a total of 20 items was used. In addition, different results were determined according to gender and ritual variables.
Vander Schaaf, Webb, & Garlock (2020). Triad of anxiety: A qualitative analysis for anxiety in nursing student collegiate-athletes. Journal of Counseling and Psychology 3(1). https://digitalcommons.gardner-webb.edu/jcp/vol3/iss1/2
Anxiety and resulting implications are prevalent for collegiate athletes who are also in nursing studies. These researchers conducted a qualitative research study to analyze perceptions of nursing student-athlete’s anxiety and feelings of perfectionism. Three main research questions were investigated: What impact does anxiety have on a nursing student-athletes? How does perfectionism affect a nursing-student athlete’s anxiety? How can coaches and professors aid in the reduction of the nursing student-athlete’s anxiety? Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and then coded. Resulting phenomena led to the concept of the Triad of Anxiety. Results indicated that nursing student-athletes experienced perceived threats, negative internal experiences, and used coping phenomena to avoid or control their internal experiences. Individuals who considered themselves perfectionists experienced even more negative internal experiences than those who did not consider themselves a perfectionist.
Wilke, Pfarr, & Moller (2020). Even warriors can be scared: A survey assessing anxiety and coping skills in competitive cross fit athletes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(6), 1874. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061874
Competition anxiety has been demonstrated to decrease sports performance while increasing burnout risk. To date, its degree in Cross Fit is unknown. These researchers examine competition fear and relevant coping skills as well as potential correlates of both in individuals participating in Cross Fit events. A total of 79 athletes answered a battery of three questionnaires (competition fear index, athletic coping skills inventory, mindfulness attention awareness scale). Substantial levels of anxiety, particularly regarding the somatic dimension of the competition fear index, were reported. According to these researchers, the most pronounced coping skill was freedom of worry. While age or level of competition showed no/very small associations with survey data, sex was correlated to the psychological characteristics: women reported higher competition fears and lower coping skill levels. Competition fears are highly prevalent in Cross Fit athletes and these researchers suggest preventive value of population-specific interventions, particularly in females, should be investigated in future research.
Wilson & Gearity. (2020). Cutting through the mindfulness muddle: A book review of three popular mindfulness interventions. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action 11(1), 68-72. https://doi.org/10.1080/21520704.2019.1708522
Research shows numerous positive psychological benefits from mindfulness-based interventions, including psychological flexibility, acute awareness, cognitive diffusion, and attentional control. Mental skills consultants, coaches, and athletes face the dilemma of making sense of the variety of mindfulness approaches. To provide clarity, this book review compares three books on mindfulness-based interventions (MBI). The Psychology of Enhancing Human Performance: The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) Approach (2007), The Power of Mindfulness: Mindfulness Meditation Training in Sport (MMTS) 2018. Mindfulness Sport Performance Enhancement Training (MSPE) 2018.
Wolch, Arthur-Cameselle, Keeler, & Suprak (2020). The effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on basketball free-throw shooting performance under pressure. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2020.1720044
According to these researchers, a brief mindfulness training did not statistically improve free-throw percentage under pressure compared to controls; however, there were medium-sized effects in group differences in performance on the first free-throw under pressure. Mindfulness participants also reported lower anxiety than controls, suggesting that a brief mindfulness training influences mental states prior to athletic performance.