Bridging the Gap Podcast

Bridging the Gap Podcast brings you the latest research in sport, performance and exercise psychology in audio format. Any research that involves strengthening the mind, team dynamics, leadership or well-being, we cover it. We go straight to the researcher and bring the information straight to you, Bridging the Gap between research and your knowledge.
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Now displaying: August, 2016
Aug 29, 2016


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?”

Aug 22, 2016

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.”

Aug 14, 2016

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”

Aug 8, 2016

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.”

Aug 1, 2016

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.