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.”