Nikola Milinkovic has extensive experience in Professional Athletics in the field of High Performance and Sports Psychology, focusing on elite junior, ATP and WTA tennis players across several countries, including the United States, the Netherlands and his home country Serbia. Nikola spent the last ten years Directing Sport Psychology programs in high performance tennis academy settings in both the US (Florida and Connecticut) and the Netherlands. Nikola played ITF and college tennis and is a certified Sport Psychology Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and is a certified Professional Level Coach through the United States Professional Tennis Registry (USPTR).
Nikola has worked extensively with sports organizations in Serbia. He is a visiting consultant at Belgrade Sports Academy and UNICEF Serbia. Nikola additionally extended his psychology work across the United Nations in The Netherlands where he served as a Staff Welfare/Development and Learning and Development Coordinator.
Nikola appeared on national television in Serbia and is an international published author. Nikola presented at The US Department of State within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and across the New England Region at various conferences. Nikola is a recipient of the 2006 Clark University Senior Class Award, given annually to the senior student-athlete of highest impact on his/her sport development, who best exemplifies class, spirit and integrity in athletic endeavors. Nikola earned his BA degree in Psychology and Theater Arts from Clark University and his EdM degree in Counseling with focus on Sport Psychology from Boston University.
Researcher: Sam Vine
I am an Experimental Psychologist, with a broad range of interests in the area of skill learning, expertise and performance under pressure. I am particularly interested in how visual attention (examined through eye tracking) and other physiological processes mediate motor skill and decision making performance. I apply my research to a range of different domains (e.g., sport, surgery, military, and aviation) and populations (e.g., children, elite performers and patient groups).
Eye tracking Consultancy: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/business/consulting/eyetrack/
Virtual Reality Human Factors Training: http://www.cineon.training/
Practitioner: Toby Larson
Toby Larson runs a private practice, Fit Mind Training where he works with athletes and performers to develop, enhance or support their mental skills that enable peak performance. Toby has a M.S. in Kinesiology from California State University East Bay and is a Certified Consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Toby's clients include athletes at the elite professional level to the recreational level and high school sports as well. Toby's contact information can be found at www.fitmindtraining.com.
Study: Psychological Factors in Ultrarunning
The psychological processes of ultramarathon runners are not well-understood in the current literature. Previous studies have primarily focused on the physical and physiological components of ultrarunning and the few studies exploring the psychological components of ultrarunning have relied predominantly on retrospective inquiry. The purpose of this study was to use a mixed-methods, multimodal approach to examine the psychological aspects of ultrarunning. “Live” in-task quantitative and video data were collected during the course of a 100 mile and 100 km ultramarathon races that spanned 32 hours of data collection. These data were supplemented with an immediate, short postrace interview directly following the runner completing or withdrawing from the race, and then a second, in-depth interview approximately six weeks following race weekend. For the quantitative data collection, single-item, in-task measures assessed runners’ pain, fatigue, affective valence (i.e., a feeling state of “bad” or “good”), energy, attentional focus, confidence to finish, and perceived exertion. Video cameras were also used to visually record changes the runners experienced during the run. Both postrace interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed with a phenomenological lens. A total of 11 runners in the 100 mile race and five runners in the 100 km race participated in this study; six runners completed the 100 mile race and four runners completed the 100 km race. Due to the lower number of participants in the 100 km race, inferential statistics were completed only with the 100 mile runners. Independent samples t-tests were conducted to examine the mean in-task ratings of finishers and non-finishers in the 100 mile run. Finishers had significantly higher confidence ratings than non-finishers at mile 65 and at mile 75. A series of repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) assessed changes in in-task measures over the course of the ultramarathon race for the six finishers in the 100 mile race. There was a significant effect of time on the in-task measures of pain, affective valence, fatigue, energy, and exertion, with pain, fatigue, and exertion increasing and affective valence and energy decreasing over the course of the race. The videos taken during the race were used as memory prompts during the runners delayed postrace interview following race weekend. Phenomenological analysis of the interview transcripts revealed eight major chronological phases depicting the psychological aspects of the runners’ race experience: pre-race, the start, chugging along, getting dark, it gets real, final push, the finish, and post-race reflections. There were also two overarching subthemes identified in analysis that went beyond the chronological phases: the natural environment of the race and the social community of ultrarunning. Implications for theory and practice, as well as suggestion for future studies, are identified and explored.
Author: Dolores Christensen
Dolores Christensen was born and raised in Northern California. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and political science from Southern Oregon University (Ashland, OR) where she was a member of the women's volleyball team. She then went on to earn her master's degree in Sport and Performance Psychology from the University of Denver. Dolores is currently a fifth-year student in the Counseling Psychology PsyD program at Springfield College (Massachusetts) and is completing her internship at the University of California, Davis in the eating disorders emphasis area. Dolores has focused her clinical training on collegiate student-athletes and her dissertation is on the psychology of ultramarathon runners. She enjoys running on mountain trails in her free time.
Study: Predicting Sport Experience during Training: The Role of Change-Oriented Feedback in Athletes’ Motivation, Self-Confidence and Needs Satisfaction Fluctuations
Change-oriented feedback (COF) quality is predictive of between-athletes differences in their sport experience (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013). This study extends these findings by investigating how training-to-training variations in COF quality influence athletes’ training experience (within-athlete differences) while controlling for the impact of promotion-oriented feedback (POF). In total, 49 athletes completed a diary after 15 consecutive training sessions to assess COF and POF received during training, as well as situational outcomes. Multivariate multilevel analyses showed that, when controlling for covariates, COF quality during a specific training session is positively linked to athletes’ autonomous motivation, self-confidence and satisfaction of their psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness during the same session. In contrast, COF quantity is negatively linked to athletes’ need for competence. POF quality is a significant positive predictor of athletes’ self-confidence and needs for autonomy and competence. Contributions to the feedback and SDT literature, and for coaches’ training, are discussed.
Author: Joelle Carpentier
I am a Social and Sport Psychologist. I am interested in the explicit and implicit impacts of social environments on athletes’ experience, performance and goals pursuit. My current research focuses on the provision of change-oriented feedback (aka negative feedback) by coaches and between teammates. Can change-oriented feedback be autonomy-supportive? Can it lead to positive consequences? Should it be given or avoided? Should teammates give feedback to one another? Obviously, this line of research can also be extended to other learning contexts. I am also interested in people’s implicit perception of autonomy-supportive and controlling environments.
Study: Sensorimotor Rhythm Neurofeedback Enhances Golf Putting Performance.
Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity has been related to automaticity during skilled action execution. However, few studies have bridged the causal link between SMR activity and sports performance. This study investigated the effect of SMR neurofeedback training (SMR NFT) on golf putting performance. We hypothesized that preelite golfers would exhibit enhanced putting performance after SMR NFT. Sixteen preelite golfers were recruited and randomly assigned into either an SMR or a control group. Participants were asked to perform putting while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded, both before and after intervention. Our results showed that the SMR group performed more accurately when putting and exhibited greater SMR power than the control group after 8 intervention sessions. This study concludes that SMR NFT is effective for increasing SMR during action preparation and for enhancing golf putting performance. Moreover, greater SMR activity might be an EEG signature of improved attention processing, which induces superior putting performance.
Author: Ming-Yang Cheng
Ming-Yang Cheng is a PhD student in Bielefeld University, Germany and specializes in sport psychophysiology. He grew up in Taiwan and earned his master degree there. Now, he’s conducting a line of research regarding how to fine-tune athletes’ focused attention by using electroencephalography (EEG), so called neurofeedback training. The results are very encouraging.
Practitioner: Justin Foster
Justin Foster is a Mental Performance Coach who helps teams, organizations, & individuals cultivate excellence through his teaching, coaching, and writing.
He helps coaches and athletes create a winning culture, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of practice, & perform at their best more consistently in competition.
Justin has his Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology and another in Mental Health Counseling. He been in the field of sport and performance psychology for the past 10 years. He has worked with coaches and athletes ranging from nationally ranked juniors, NCAA Division 1, and NFL prospects preparing for the combine. For the past 6 years Justin has been working with members of the United States military building resilience, enhancing performance, and cultivating adaptive leaders. Justin's goal is to help his clients be at their best when it matters most, regardless of the arena - sports, work, or life.
Study: Coaching on the Wave: An Integrative Approach to Facilitating Youth Development
Central to the ability of successfully utilizing sport as a social intervention to promote youth developmental outcomes is the role of the youth sport leader (YSL). While many YSLs care for the youth-athletes with whom they work, many YSLs do not have a purposeful intent when facilitating sport as a social intervention. One strategy developed to increase the YSL's ability to intentionally facilitate sport towards youth development is the Coaching on the Wave model, which offers a framework for YSLs to apply theory and research into their coaching practices to intentionally promote positive youth outcomes such as life-skill development.
Author: Tarkington Newman
Tarkington J. Newman (MSW, University of Michigan; MS, The Ohio State University) is a fourth year doctoral student in the College of Social Work. He is currently serving as a Graduate Research/Teaching Associate for Dr. Anderson-Butcher in The LiFEsports Initiative. Prior to his work as a Graduate Associate, he was awarded a Graduate Enrichment Fellowship through The Ohio State University. Tarkington’s research interests lie within sport-based positive youth development among high-risk urban minority youth. Specifically, his focus is on the role of the youth sport leader and their ability to facilitate and transfer life skill development. Tarkington has co-authored several publications in peer-reviewed journals such as: Research on Social Work Practice, Psychology of Sport & Exercise, and Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Additionally, Tarkington co-developed the experiential-based Coaching on the Wave model, which has been presented at conferences such as Experiential Education Annual International Conference and International Adventure Therapy Conference. Tarkington has also taught a variety of undergraduate courses in both social work and sport science departments such as: Engagement & Interview Skills, Prevention and Youth Development though Sport, Recreation and Play; Contemporary Issues in Sport, and Coaching the Young Athlete. In addition to his academic work, he was trained as a school social worker, where he specialized in adventure therapy and crisis intervention. He has also spent the last decade coaching track & field at the high school and collegiate club levels.
Practitioner: Sam Maniar
Sam Maniar Ph.D. is the founder of the Center for Peak Performance. He has worked with thousands of professional, Olympic, college, and high school athletes, including the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Washington State Cougars.
Dr. Maniar uses performance psychology and his extensive experience as a foundation to help individuals, teams, companies, and groups pursue their potential. His varied background gives him a true understanding of what it takes to succeed, both in sport and the business world. He is a licensed psychologist in the state of Ohio, and his work has been featured in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, ESPN.com, Fox News, NCAA Times, and ILovetoWatchYouPlay.com.
Follow him @sam_maniar.
“It was more correcting myths, like they believed they needed to stay focused for three hours. Well no, you really only need to stay focused for 20 seconds at a time.”
“What would happen is, I would always work with, for whatever reason, every year there was one or two veterans on offense and defense...that would want to do everything in their power to be successful, so one of the things they would do is meet with me.”
‘What I am looking at (pre-draft analysis) is two levels of risk. Risk on the field, and off the field.”
“Part of risk on the field could be their capacity to learn, part of it might be what type of a teammate are they, how do they take feedback from coaches, are they aware of their limitations and strengths.”
Article: Psychological Momentum During and Across Sports Matches: Evidence for Interconnected Time Scales
This study on psychological momentum (PM) in sports provides the first experimental test of an interconnection between short-term PM (during a match) and long-term PM (across a series of matches). Twenty-two competitive athletes were striving to win a prize during a rowing-ergometer tournament, consisting of manipulated races. As hypothesized, athletes who had developed long-term positive PM after two successful races were less sensitive to a negative momentum scenario in the third race, compared with athletes who had developed long-term negative PM after two unsuccessful races. More specifically, the exerted efforts, perceptions of momentum, and self-efficacy were higher for participants who had developed long-term positive PM, and their perceptions of momentum and self-efficacy decreased less rapidly. These results illustrate a typical complex dynamical systems property, namely interconnected time scales, and provide deeper insights into the dynamical nature of PM.
Author: J.R. (Ruud) den Hartigh
Dr. Ruud Den Hartigh is currently assistant professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Groningen (Netherlands), where he is also the coordinator of the international Master’s program Talent Development & Creativity. In April 2015, he defended his PhD thesis (awarded by the collaborating universities of Montpellier (France) and Groningen with the distinction cum laude) on the study of complex processes of human performance. In general, Ruud’s research focuses on providing an understanding of the “laws” of emergence and adaptation of psychological and performance patterns, mostly in sports. Typical examples of questions he is working on are: ‘How can we understand the complex development of talent?’, and ‘How do periods of positive and negative psychological momentum develop?’
Checkout the new MSc. program Ruud and his colleagues have started:
Youtube video where Ruud discusses the current study:
“It’s not always the case that if you have momentum it is guaranteed success, and if you have negative momentum it is a guarantee that you will lose.”
“I think that it (momentum) does shape your feelings of confidence, your efforts that you exert during a match.”
“The way athletes respond to setbacks during a match is related to, I would even say embedded in the momentum process that has developed during the tournament.”
“The idea that athletes’ responses are actually shaped by the process, is surprisingly often omitted.”
“Examining the process can actually give you answers to the question of when and how athletes psychological states and performance actually change.”
“Do not omit the process, rather, focus on the process.”
‘If you want to understand when and how the psychological states and performance of an athlete changes, the answer probably lies in
Practitioner: Lauren Tashman
Lauren S. Tashman, PhD, CC-AASP is an Assistant Professor in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology (SEPP), the Coordinator of Sport Psychology Services, and the Coordinator of the Master's SEPP program at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. In addition to teaching, supervising, and providing mental performance services to athletics at Barry, she has a private practice in which she provides CC-AASP mentoring and mental performance coaching to individual performers and groups/teams. She is currently also the Mental Performance Coach for Softball Canada's Senior Women's National Team. Her educational background includes a Bachelor's in Psychology from The College of New Jersey as well as a Master's and PhD in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Sport Psychology from Florida State University. During her PhD, she also obtained a certification in Program Evaluation, taught an undergraduate Educational Psychology course, and was a Graduate Research Assistant in the Learning System Institute's Human Performance Lab, led by Drs. K. Anders Ericsson, David Eccles, and Paul Ward. Most recently, she co-edited two books with J. Gualberto Cremades investigating global perspectives on applied practice and training/supervision titled, "Becoming a Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology Practitioner: a Global Perspective" and "Global Practices and Training in Applied Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology: a Case Study Approach."
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“In the process of driving better habits of thinking, I also believe that in the moment you need to just go with whatever you have.”
“In a team sense, or how you influence other people I really truly believe that you are either a positive or negative, there is no such thing as a grey area, there is no such thing as in between.”
“My approach has always been try to build really good relationships, do good work with the people that want it and then let it progress overtime.”
“In today’s world where information is everywhere and everyone’s fingertips, I want my students to be better than what someone can get in a book or online.”
Study: Self Talk: Review and Sport Specific Model
Self-talk is a key component of the sport psychology canon. Although self-talk has been widely endorsed by athletes and coaches as a performance enhancement strategy, a comprehensive model of self-talk in sport that might be used to guide systematic research has yet to be developed. This purpose of this paper is to: (a) review theory and research related to self-talk in sport; and (b) present a sport-specific model that builds upon existing theory and research, and addresses key questions related to self-talk. The paper begins with a definition of self-talk, developed with consideration of the discursive nature of inner speech and dual process theories. Extant self-talk models related to self-talk in sport are reviewed and serve as a foundation for a sport-specific model of self-talk. Components of the model (i.e., self-talk, System 1, System 2, behaviour, contextual factors, personal factors) are presented, the reciprocal relationships among model components are explored, and implications of the sport-specific model of self-talk are discussed.
Judy L. Van Raalte, PhD, is a certified consultant for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and listed in the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry. She has presented at conferences in 18 countries and published over 90 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the NCAA, and the International Tennis Federation. Van Raalte served as president of the American Psychological Association's Society of Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology (APA Division 47) and vice president of the International Society of Sport Psychology. She is a fellow of APA and AASP.
“If we already know everything that we know, then why would we talk to ourselves?”
“When you ask people after the fact, they tend to be pretty poor at remembering what they were thinking, or what their experiences were.”
“So people who think they are not really great, and say I’m not really great, and then are told to think ‘No your awesome’, sometimes get stuck in thinking and actually feel worse, and up performing worse.”
“You don’t have to act on every thought you have. It just might be part of the process and normal because sport can be frustrating.”
“How much self-talk is too much?”
“So what I think is new is looking at all the relationships between these factors and then opening things up to really consider peoples own private experiences with system one self talk.”
Practitioner: Donald Christensen
Don grew up playing golf with his family, and began to play more competitively as time went on. In high school he won four state titles in Washington State. His skills helped him get a scholarship to play golf at Stanford University (pre-Tiger he added in). He cites being exposed to some mental coaching as youngster (i.e. reading The Inner Game of Tennis) as the spark the interest that would influence his career choice.
After finishing at Stanford Don attended the University of Washington where he obtained his PHD in Clinical Psychology. During his time at UW and following Don worked with various athletic teams at the school and teams in the community. He currently works for Shoreline Community College, where he has been a professor of psychology since 2004. Additionally he works part time as a consultant for athletes in the local Seattle area.
“What I typically tell people is, if you wanted to have six pack abs could you do that in a day? Unless you are going to a plastic surgeon, that’s not going to happen. The same thing is true with mental skills…if you devote the right effort over a sustained period of time, they grow and they change.”
“Mental skills are very much like physical muscles, if you train them properly they will change.”
“By their nature, habits kind of, at least initially, operate outside of our awareness. So with this mental work…you are hopefully bringing awareness to those habits and modifying them to allow them to serve you.”
“The first stage is control by others, the second stage is control by yourself, and then the last stage is automatic.”
“The argument is the best execution of those actions comes when you move into the final stage and it’s automatic.”
“If you are relying upon reminders to yourself to do something, particularly when pressure comes it’s not a recipe for successful behavior. It’s not a recipe for high performance, in fact you will probably underperform.”
“I like the notion of a sports psychologist as a facilitator as opposed to expert. I mean ya, we have some training and some knowledge that people may not have, but I like this idea of people becoming their own coach.”
“I usually joke with athlete, I tell them that I hope you mess up majorly while you work with me because what we will do in the aftermath is we will review it.”
“When we fail, when we struggle, when things don’t go well, we often don’t want to revisit those moments.”
“What if it’s not failure, what if it’s feedback?”
“When we get excessively anxious, we are actually impairing the pre-frontal cortex. You can actually see it being inhibited, and that’s one major piece of the brain we are going to rely upon to that kind of mental talk yourself through it work. So we are handicapping the very part of our nervous system that we would need to be able to use to pull off that kind of execution. I think better to learn that skill beyond that, so that again its automatic, it’s habitual. Such that, when that part of the brain is impaired it really doesn’t matter because you are using a different aspect of yourself to do what you are doing.”
“The brain goes to what’s familiar. That’s where it wants to return. Is that good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what’s familiar.”
Study: Stereotype Fit Effects for Golf Putting Non-Experts
Research has connected stereotype threat and regulatory fit by showing improved performance for individuals with negative stereotypes when they focused on minimizing potential losses. In the current study, non-Black participants, who were nonexperts at golf putting, were told that a golf putting task was diagnostic of natural athletic ability (i.e., negative stereotype) or sports intelligence (i.e., positive stereotype). Participants tried to maximize earned points or minimize lost points assigned after every putt, which was calculated based on the distance to a target. Results showed better performance for participants experiencing a fit between their global task stereotype and the task goal, and that regulatory fit allowed for increased attention on the strategies beneficial for task performance. Interestingly, we found that performance of individuals high in working memory capacity suffered greatly when those individuals experienced a regulatory mismatch. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Author: Lisa Grimm
Dr. Lisa Grimm grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and developed an interest in psychology while at Grinnell College (B.A., 2001). After Grinnell, she attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received an M.A., and then a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology (2007). Dr. Grimm remained at The University of Texas as a Lecturer and Post-doctoral Fellow until she started as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at The College of New Jersey in the fall of 2009. She is now an Associate Professor. Please see Dr. Grimm’s website for more information: http://grimm.pages.tcnj.edu/. For this project, she collaborated with former TCNJ student, Benjamin Lewis, who was instrumental to the success of the study. More information about her amazing students and research lab can be found on her lab website: http://misclab.pages.tcnj.edu/.
“People generally walk around with like a chronic motivational state.”
“If you are in a regulatory fit, you are more able to flexibly switch the kinds of strategies that you are using.”
“People need to be aware of the outside pressures that end up changing the underlying motivation.”
“Part of that mental toughness is recognizing when you need to adapt. It’s kind of the toughness to realize that you have to change course.”
Matt Belair is a speaker, author, podcaster, athlete and mental trainer with experience in the fields of mental fortitude, Zen, the pursuit of inner peace and positive living, martial arts, marketing, snowboarding, and travel to neuro-linguistic programming, meditation, sport psychology, life coaching, and conscious living.
Matt has travelled the world and put himself in the fire to test his knowledge and his limits. He spent time in Nepal studying meditation with Buddhist monks and survived a near death experience while trekking Everest. Travelled the world as a professional snowboard coach, trained mixed martial arts with pro fighters in Thailand. He has learned the secrets to becoming an effective and powerful leader, speaker and trainer under the guidance of mentor Michel Losier, the best selling author of the Law of Attraction, and spent time in China training with 34th Generation Shaolin Monks, just to name some of his incredible experiences.
In this podcast he discusses his approach to working with athletes and offers advice to anyone that wishes to explore and develop their potential.
“Whats the secret? The secret is bloody hard work.”
“That’s how you create your reality, one day at a time.”
“Mastery is simplicity.”
‘Mastery is so basic, it is just the right basics.”
Study: Reappraising Threat: How to Optimize Performance Under Pressure
Abstract: Competitive situations often hinge on one pressurized moment. In these situations, individuals' psychophysiological states determine performance, with a challenge state associated with better performance than a threat state. But what can be done if an individual experiences a threat state? This study examined one potential solution: arousal reappraisal. Fifty participants received either arousal reappraisal or control instructions before performing a pressurized, single-trial, motor task. Although both groups initially displayed cardiovascular responses consistent with a threat state, the reappraisal group displayed a cardiovascular response more reflective of a challenge state (relatively higher cardiac output and/or lower total peripheral resistance) after the reappraisal manipulation. Furthermore, despite performing similarly at baseline, the reappraisal group outperformed the control group during the pressurized task. The results demonstrate that encouraging individuals to interpret heightened physiological arousal as a tool that can help maximize performance can result in more adaptive cardiovascular responses and motor performance under pressure.
Author: Lee Moore
Dr. Lee Moore is a lecturer in Sport and Exercise psychology at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. His two main areas of expertise include the effect of gaze training interventions on the acquisition and refinement of motor skills and how pre-competition psychophysiological states influence motor skill performance. His work has led him to working with several professional organizations including the Rugby Football Union, Professional Games Match Officials Limited and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. He has some very exciting upcoming work involving the relationship between psychophysiological states and concepts such as resilience, mental toughness and hardiness. He is also a huge fan of Universal Studios.
“This is one of the first studies to show that arousal re-appraisal can also have a beneficial effect on motor performance, on the accuracy of motor and sporting skills.”
“We tend to view increases in physiological arousal…as something that will harm our performance…and is associated with feeling anxious. It is actually just our body preparing itself to perform a task and to perform it well.”
Brian Lomax is an expert in training mental toughness and competitive skills to highly motivated athletes looking to become their best. His students have enjoyed success at local, collegiate and national levels in a variety of sports including tennis, golf, football, volleyball, basketball, softball, luge, and figure skating. He directs the mental skills training programs for several of the best junior tennis academies in New England, and works with a number of Division 1 college sports teams.
Brian received his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri and completed his undergraduate study at Vanderbilt University. He achieved a certificate as a Mental Toughness Specialist from the Human Performance Institute and is a certified tennis professional by the USPTA. On the competitive side, Brian has been a highly ranked tennis player throughout his adult career both nationally and in New England with a career best ranking of #2 in the US in Men’s 35 and over singles in 2006. He continues to compete at a high level and believes that this experience helps him identify with his students.
Quotes from Episode:
“The important thing is to win this match, it’s not to get upset about a mistake that I cannot change.”
“There is a notion these days that being a perfectionist is a good thing”
‘That’s what was the major change, focusing on the process, but also figuring out what it (process) was.”
“One of the reasons we call mental toughness, you know toughness, is it forces you to make tough choices and one of them is looking at yourself as the reason why things happen.”
“If you are blaming things that are outside of your control, then they can never change, and then you can never change.”
“If that’s how you feel and think when you’re playing at your best, well why aren’t you working on getting yourself to feel that way?”
Study: Introducing Sport Psychology Interventions: Self-Control Implications
Abstract: Evidence from sequential-task studies demonstrate that if the first task requires self-control, then performance on the second task is compromised (Hagger, Wood, Stiff, & Chatzisarantis, 2010). In a novel extension of previous sequential-task research, the first self-control task in the current study was a sport psychology intervention, paradoxically proposed to be associated with improved performance. Eighteen participants (9 males, 9 females; mean age = 21.6 years, SD = 1.6), none of whom had previously performed the experimental task or motor imagery, were randomly assigned to an imagery condition or a control condition. After the collection of pretest data, participants completed the same 5-week physical training program designed to enhance swimming tumble-turn performance. Results indicated that performance improved significantly among participants from both conditions with no significant intervention effect. Hence, in contrast to expected findings from application of the imagery literature, there was no additive effect after an intervention. We suggest practitioners should be cognizant of the potential effects of sequential tasks, and future research is needed to investigate this line of research.
Author: Tracey Devonport
Dr Tracey Devonport is registered as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist with the Health Care Professions Council. Other certifications include; Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, accredited with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) for scientific support (Psychology) and a Chartered Scientist. Tracey was made a Fellow of BASES in 2015.
Tracey's research interests primarily lie around stress, coping, and emotion regulation. In particular she is interested in applied research with a focus on intervention development and delivery. Other research interest areas include emotional intelligence, emotional eating, self-control, self-efficacy and body image. She has authored more than 45 peer refereed journal articles, three books and 13 book chapters.
Tracey has worked as an applied sport psychology consultant for more than 20 years. She has worked predominantly with junior national athletes in sports such as Tennis, Swimming, Badminton, Judo and Netball.
“In terms of imagery, you don’t write a script and go there you are, job done. It is a consistently evolving process really, so that you are moving along with their learning.”
“If you are just learning to use imagery, don’t use imagery and then follow it by a new skill you are trying to learn.”
“There is so much research out there that suggests that imagery doesn’t help with a novel skill. This could come down to self-control because you are asking people to use imagery which is going to be novel to them, and then you’re asking to them to perform a novel physical skill. That is two repeated acts of self-control. Use imagery independent of the physical scale”
‘If you want to do really well on a task, plan your day. Don’t try and delimit acts of self-control leading up to that really important task.”
‘Every time you make a decision, quite often it is an act of self-control.”
‘Think of self-control like a muscle, so if you use it you are going to tire it.”
Study: Does Grit Influence Sport-Specific Engagement and Perceptual-Cognitive Expertise in Elite Youth Soccer?
Abstract: We examined whether soccer players who score low and high on the personality trait grit can be differentiated based on their sport-specific engagement and perceptual-cognitive expertise. Findings revealed that grittier players accumulated significantly more time in sport-specific activities including competition, training, play, and indirect involvement. Moreover, there was a significant main effect for performance on the perceptual-cognitive skills tests across groups, with grittier players performing better than less gritty players on the assessments of decision making and situational probability. The findings are the first to demonstrate a potential link between grit, sport-specific engagement, and perceptual-cognitive expertise.
Author: Paul Larkin
Paul Larkin is a post-doctoral researcher and tertiary educator with extensive experience and knowledge in conducting research projects and developing tertiary level educational content both face-to-face and online. As a tertiary educator for over 7 years, Paul has extensive experience of e-learning strategies, developing and delivering course content using a variety of pedagogical methods to promote the learners engagement in the content. Recently Paul has been involved with a government funded research project, with a key aim to monitor and evaluate Football Federation Australia’s National Curriculum for Player Development.
“How does (grit) change moving down the talent spectrum?”
“If you do demonstrate kind of grit and tendencies where you have a passion towards long term goals, your hopefully more likely to invest time engaging toward that goal, which hopefully you will be quite successful at.”
“A lot of players will try and play what the coaches call FIFA ball”
Study: Adversarial Growth in Olympic Swimmers: Constructive Reality or Illusory Self-Deception?
Abstract: Efforts to regulate emotions can influence others, and interpersonal emotion regulation within teams may affect athletes’ own affective and motivational outcomes. We examined adolescent athletes’ (N = 451, Nteams = 38) self- and interpersonal emotion regulation, as well as associations with peer climate, sport enjoyment, and sport commitment within a multilevel model of emotion regulation in teams. Results of multilevel Bayesian structural equation modeling showed that athletes’ self-worsening emotion regulation strategies were negatively associated with enjoyment, while other-improving emotion regulation strategies were positively associated enjoyment and commitment. The team-level interpersonal emotion regulation climate and peer motivational climates were also associated with enjoyment and commitment. Team-level factors moderated some of the relationships between athletes’ emotion regulation with enjoyment and commitment. These findings extend previous research by examining interpersonal emotion regulation within teams using a multilevel approach, and they demonstrate the importance of person- and team-level factors for athletes’ enjoyment and commitment.
Author: Karen Howells
Karen is a Lecturer in Sport and Fitness at The Open University. Previously she worked as a lecturer in psychology and sport psychology in a number of face-to-face universities and further and higher education colleges. Karen joined the Open University in 2015 having completed her PhD at Loughbrough University. The title of her PhD thesis was ‘A Qualitative Exploration of Adversarial Growth in Elite Swimmers’. Karen's research arising from her doctorate has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at national and international conferences.
Karen’s specialist area is sport and performance psychology. She is a Chartered Sport Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). She regularly provides sport and performance psychology support to athletes from a wide range of individual and team sports competing at a variety of levels. She has also delivered non-technical skills to teams within the Oil and Gas Industry and is an ex-Royal Air Force Officer.
“Post traumatic growth occurs when an individual is shattered by their experiences, but in their recovery go beyond their pre-trauma functioning”
“I am not sure the growth is real (post traumatic). If feels to me like people are talking about growth, when actually there is nothing there.”
“Real growth has some kind of change in outlook on life, a philosophical change, real fundamental differences in how people view life.”
“The illusory side of growth is more about self-deception; People deceiving themselves into thinking something positive has come from their experiences.”
“These individuals are identifying positive outcomes, but they are not real.”
“Ideally, I’d like to say we can grow from our experiences, but that’s not to say we always grow, or we have to grow.”
“Resiliency and growth in some ways are contradictory.”
Study: Can You Have Your Vigorous Exercise and Enjoy It Too? Ramping Intensity Down Increases Postexercise, Remembered, and Forecasted Pleasure
Abstract: There is a paucity of methods for improving the affective experience of exercise. We tested a novel method based on discoveries about the relation between exercise intensity and pleasure, and lessons from behavioral economics. We examined the effect of reversing the slope of pleasure during exercise from negative to positive on pleasure and enjoyment, remembered pleasure, and forecasted pleasure. Forty-six adults were randomly assigned to a 15-min bout of recumbent cycling of either increasing intensity (0%-120% of Watts corresponding to the ventilatory threshold) or decreasing intensity (120%-0%). Ramping intensity down, thereby eliciting a positive slope of pleasure during exercise, improved postexercise pleasure and enjoyment, remembered pleasure, and forecasted pleasure. The slope of pleasure accounted for 35%-46% of the variance in remembered and forecasted pleasure from 15 min to 7 days postexercise. Ramping intensity down makes it possible to combine exposure to vigorous and moderate intensities with a pleasant affective experience.
Author: Zachary Zenko
Dr. Zachary Zenko recently earned his Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the Department of Kinesiology at Iowa State University. His undergraduate degree is in Health and Physical Education with a major in Human Performance from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. His Master of Science degree is in Health and Physical Activity from the University of Pittsburgh. Zachary combines the field of behavioral economics with exercise psychology in an effort to promote physical activity and exercise behavior. Much of his research focuses on the affective responses to exercise, the measurement of implicit exercise associations, and exercise decision making. Zachary will soon join the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University as a post-doctoral associate.
“It’s important for most people, and listeners to understand that exercise does not need to feel unpleasant or very intense for it to be beneficial.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I hear that advice being given out with new exercisers. People say oh for, let’s say a month or two, this will be unpleasant but there is nothing you can do about it. Once you get over that hump though, then hopefully you will start to enjoy it or it will feel good for you. Umm……..that’s not necessary.
Study: Think aloud: An examination of distance runners’ thought processes
Abstract: Distance running is popular throughout the USA, and to date it has received much attention in the sport psychology literature. One limitation, however, is the retrospective nature of most current research. Subsequently, the present study examined real-time thought processes of runners recorded during a long-distance run. The think-aloud protocol was used with 10 participants ranging in age from 29 to 52 years old (M = 41.3 years, SD = 7.3). Qualitative analysis of the data identified meaning units, which were grouped into major themes. A final thematic structure revealed three major themes that characterized the participant's thought processes: Pace and Distance, Pain and Discomfort, and Environment. Taken together, the present results extend previous research on running and provide a number of suggestions for sport psychology consultants working with runners.
Author: Duncan Simpson
Dr. Duncan Simpson serves as an Assistant Professor in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology and is the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology Program. He received his MS degree in Exercise Science from Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK and his PhD in Sport & Exercise Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
His teaching experience includes various undergraduate and graduate courses in: applied sport psychology, psycho-social aspects of sport, exercise psychology, psychology of coaching, qualitative research methods and professional practice. In addition to classes taught at Barry University, he has taught at Ithaca College, NY; The University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The University of Leeds (UK) and Leeds Metropolitan University (UK).
Dr. Simpson is an active researcher and his primary research interests include: psychology of endurance sports; performance enhancement through season-long interventions; exploring the experiences of athletes training for competition; stress and coping among elite adolescent athletes; competitive state anxiety in elite adolescents; talent identification and development in physical education, and the acquisition of expertise in sport.
“In the first mile or two for every runner we heard a lot of negative thoughts. Across the board everyone was struggling with some sort of pain or discomfort when they started the run.”
“That old saying, never judge a run on its first mile is really true.”
“Recognize the difference between discomfort and pain. Basically, almost every time you go for a run you are going to feel some form of discomfort. It’s part of the experience of running.”
“I think there is a lesson for athletes that discomfort is sometimes part of the process, and for runners it’s a really important part of the process.”
Study: Appraisal in a Team Context: Perceptions of Cohesion Predict Competition Importance and Prospects for Coping
Abstract: Athletes' precompetitive appraisal is important because it determines emotions, which may impact performance. When part of a team, athletes make their appraisal within a social context, and in this study we examined whether perceived team cohesion, as a characteristic of this context, related to appraisal. We asked 386 male and female intercollegiate team-sport athletes to respond to measures of cohesion and precompetitive appraisal before an in-season game. For males and females, across all teams, (a) an appraisal of increased competition importance was predicted by perceptions of higher task cohesion (individual level), better previous team performance, and a weaker opponent (team level) and (b) an appraisal of more positive prospects for coping with competitive demands was predicted by higher individual attractions to the group (individual level). Consequently, athletes who perceive their team as more cohesive likely appraise the pending competition as a challenge, which would benefit both emotions and performance.
Author: Svenja Wolf
Dr. Svenja A. Wolf is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Social Psychology Program at the University of Amsterdam. In her work, Svenja focuses on two prominent attributes of almost any performance context, emotions and groups, and investigates how these two factors interact. At the moment, Svenja and her collaborators are fascinated by the idea of collective emotions or emotional convergence in sport and other performance teams and explore why teams converge emotionally, which environmental and personal factors impact this convergence, and, crucially, how collective emotions relate to team performance, group climate, and member adherence. Having competed both in individual and team sports, Svenja has experienced both the supportive and pressure inducing effects of a team firsthand and investigated these effects in a more structured fashion when obtaining her Doctorate in Sport Science (area Sport and Exercise Psychology) at the German Sport University Cologne. In this podcast, Svenja shares some insight from her past and current research as well as from her work as an applied sport psychology consultant.
“The more unified teammates were in regards to goals, and the more they felt the team environment was a place for them to play well, the more important they viewed an upcoming competition.”
“If I feel I have friends on the team, and I feel I can lean on these others, then I feel like I have more resources to deal with the upcoming competition.”
Study: “Athletes” and “exercisers”: Understanding identity, motivation, and physical activity participation in former college athletes.
Abstract: Self-identity influences physical activity participation, and individuals who are motivated by self-determined and volitional reasons are more likely to maintain their exercise behavior. The present study incorporates tenets of identity theory and self-determination theory to investigate the relationships among identity, motivation, and physical activity in former college athletes. Former Division I student-athletes (N = 282) completed an online survey consisting of the Exercise Identity Scale, the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, the Behavioral Regulation for Exercise Questionnaire, the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire, and demographic items. Exercise identity and athletic identity were both positively related to physical activity and significantly interacted in their prediction of physical activity participation. Motivation, and specifically identified regulation, appears to have a mediating effect on the relationship between exercise identity and physical activity. The findings of this study add to our understanding of former college athletes’ physical activity behavior within an identity and self-determination theory framework.
Author: Erin Reifsteck
Dr. Erin Reifsteck is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and M.S. and Ph.D. in kinesiology with a sport and exercise psychology concentration. Erin is a former NCAA Division I student-athlete, having played field hockey at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania. Drawing on her research and experience as a former athlete, Erin led the development of Moving On!, a physical activity and health transition program for student-athletes, which she discusses in this interview. Prior to joining the kinesiology department at UNCG, Erin completed her post-doctoral fellowship with the Institute to Promote Athlete Health and Wellness.
“There is this misconception out there that athletes by nature of being athletes know how to be active, have always been active, and therefore will always be active, but the evidence suggests that is not the case.”
“Student athletes who had developed or maintained a broader active identity, so seeing themselves as physically active people, not just specifically maybe a basketball player, that those were the people that were more likely to be physically active.”
“Having that higher exercise identity was also related to greater self-determined motivation.”
“Results suggest that…Identity and motivation could be impactful components of interventions that we might develop to try to foster physical activity in former student athletes.”
“Knowing that identity and motivation are key factors in influencing people’s behaviors and what they do or don’t do in life, that’s a key take a way point to understand regardless of what setting you are in.”
Author: Dr. Blair Evans
Dr. Michael Blair Evans is an assistant professor of kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Masters of Arts in Kinesiology and Physical Activity from University of Lethbridge and his Bachelor of Arts in Sport Psychology at Laurentian University.
His research interests include how personal relationships influence the experiences of athletes and exercisers, group dynamics, and youth sport. With several studies published already, Dr. Evans is expanding his research interests and following several specific lines of research that he discusses during the show.
Articles mentioned in the interview:
Bruner, M. W., Eys, M. A., Evans, M. B., & Wilson, K. (2015). Interdependence and Social Identity in Youth Sport Teams. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 27, 351-358.
Evans, M. B., McGuckin, M., Gainforth, H., Bruner, M. W., & Côté, J. (2015). Informing programs to improve interpersonal coach behaviours: A systematic review using the RE-AIM framework. British Journal of Sport Medicine, 49, 871-877.
Evans, M. B., & Eys, M. A. (2015). Collective goals and shared tasks: Interdependence structure and perceptions of individual sport team environments. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 25, e139–e148.
Evans, M. B., Eys, M. A., & Bruner, M. W. (2012). Seeing the ‘we’ in ‘me’ sports: The need to consider individual sport team environments. Canadian Psychology, 53, 301-308.
“I think there is huge potential to start teach coaches about more elements of team dynamics that extend beyond maybe norms and maybe motivational climate and enter into things like roles of members, interdependence and how you socialize people into groups and create that positive group environment.”