Development of an Evidence-Based Sport Psychological Training Program for Young Elite Athletes

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

  • Johan Michael Wikman
Sport psychological training seems to be a viable way of facilitating development and performance for adult athletes, and even though sport psychological training for young athletes is less investigated, research indicates that talented athletes can benefit from sport psychological training as well. The aim of this thesis is to review and add to the current knowledge on sport psychologicaltraining for young elite athletes, and to investigate sport psychological interventions for young elite athletes. This will aid the development of sport psychological training programs for young elite athletes.This thesis investigates sport psychological training for young elite athletes through two approaches. First, three reviews are performed: a review of psychological skills and characteristics needed for successful talent development, a review of current talent development theories and models, and a review of sport psychological interventions for young athletes. Second, four research studies are reported. These studies investigate sport psychological interventions for young elite athletes.In the chapter entitled “Sport Psychological Training for Young Elite Athletes”, the three reviews of the literature are conducted. First, a review of studies investigating sport psychological skills and characteristics needed for successful development reveals three skills/characteristics that seems to be mentioned repeatedly in the literature, namely motivation, social skills, and self-regulation.Second, a theoretical introduction to current talent development theories and models is given. Here, the Theory of Deliberate Practice (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993), the Developmental Model of Sport Participation (Côté, Baker, & Abernethy, 2007), the Lifespan Model (Wylleman & Reints, 2010), and the normative transitions faced by the athlete (Stambulova, 1994) are viewedwith a focus on sport psychological training, with the aim of uncovering which psychological skills and characteristics, young athletes need to possess in order to develop and become successful elite athletes. The result is an overview of the psychological skills and characteristics, an overview which supports the conclusions from the first review of psychological skills and characteristics needed for successful talent development – that motivation, social skills and self-regulation are important for successful development. Third, a review of sport psychological interventions for young athletes is performed. The reviewreveals 37 studies, of which 10 used a sample that can be viewed as elite. Furthermore, the review reveals that interventions targeting the important skills and characteristics for talent development, motivation, social skills and self-regulation, are not thoroughly investigated with young participants. Therefore, it is decided to conduct four studies targeting motivation, social skills and self-regulation.In the chapter entitled “Methodology”, the methodology of the intervention studies in this thesis is discussed. The chapter starts with discussing important points regarding intervention studies, namely the theoretical underpinning of the intervention, randomised control trials compared with quasi-experimental studies, length of the intervention, whether the intervention had an effect, andthe dual position of the researcher.This is followed by an introduction to mixed methods, namely the ontology, epistemology, and methodology of using both quantitative and qualitative methods to obtain data about the phenomenon under scrutiny, and it is defined, which methodological standpoint has supported the methods of this thesis, namely the pragmatic standpoint. Two mixed methods frameworks arepresented (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2007; Östlund, Kidd, Wengström, & Rowa-Dewar, 2011), and the studies in the thesis are placed in these frameworks.Lastly, measurement issues of questionnaire studies are discussed, with focus on reliability and validity of the data produced with questionnaires. The “Methodology” chapter is then followed by the four research studies.Study 1 describes the effects of a three-month goal setting intervention on fear of failure in talented swimmers and track and field athletes. The goal setting group participated in 12 weekly goal setting sessions, while the control group did not. The effects were investigated primarily through questionnaire data gathered at baseline and at the end of the intervention, but qualitative interviewswere also conducted to capture the participants’ experience of the intervention. It was concluded that goal setting can be used to decrease fear of failure in young elite athletes. This research article also includes a validation of the Achievement Motive Scale-Sport (Elbe & Wenhold, 2005) throughconfirmatory factor analysis.Study 2 describes the effects of a three-month team building intervention on social cohesion in young elite football players. The intervention group participated in 12 weekly team building sessions, while the control group did not. Effects were investigated with questionnaire data gatheredat baseline and end of the intervention, as well as with qualitative interviews. Statistical resultssuggested that social cohesion increased in the intervention group compared with the control group,and qualitative interviews supported this conclusion. Cohesion seems to be a possible target forinterventions, even with teams that spend a lot of time together. The Group Cohesion Questionnaire(Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985), which was used in this study, seemed to have problemswith reliability, and possible reasons for this are discussed.Study 3 describes the effects of a three-month relaxation intervention on levels of recovery intalented athletes attending high school. The effects in the intervention group compared with thecontrol group were investigated via questionnaire data gathered with the Recovery-StressQuestionnaire for Athletes (Kellmann & Kallus, 2001) at baseline and at the end of the intervention,as well as with qualitative interviews with the intervention participants. While the statistical resultsindicated that there was no effect of the intervention, analysis of the qualitative interviews8suggested that the intervention had an impact on the participants. It was concluded that theintervention was effective. Suggestions for future interventions are given.Study 4 describes the effects of a narrative-collaborative group coaching intervention on therecovery levels in young elite athletes in high school. The intervention group participated in eight90-minute group coaching sessions distributed over 12 weeks, while the control group did not.Questionnaire data was gathered with the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for Athletes (Kellmann &Kallus, 2001) at baseline and at end of the intervention, and qualitative interviews were conductedwith the participants in the coaching groups. Statistical analyses suggested that the coachingintervention had an effect on social recovery and general well-being. These results were supportedby the analysis of the qualitative interviews.In the chapter “Main Findings”, the primary findings of the three reviews of current literature aswell as the four intervention studies are reported. This is followed by the chapter “GeneralDiscussion”. Here, the four research studies are discussed in relation to existing literature, as well asin relation to the current talent development theories and models. This is followed by a generaldiscussion not related to the literature reviews in the thesis. Limitations of the current thesis aredescribed, as well as implications for future research and practice in talent development and sportpsychological training.Findings suggest that sport psychological training for young elite athletes is possible and importantin order to give young athletes the best conditions to develop successfully into elite athletes. Thereviews of psychological skills and characteristics, talent development theories and models, andsport psychological interventions for young athletes, as well as the four research studies can be usedto inform research and practice in the future.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Udgivelses stedCopenhagen
ForlagDepartment of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
Antal sider206
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7611-878-5
StatusUdgivet - 2015

Bibliografisk note

CURIS 2015 NEXS 159

ID: 141211552