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Enhancing wellbeing, long-term development, and performance in youth sport: Insights from experienced applied sport psychologists working with young athletes in the United Kingdom

Sam N. Thrower Orcid Logo, Jamie B. Barker Orcid Logo, Adam M. Bruton Orcid Logo, Pete Coffee Orcid Logo, Jennifer Cumming Orcid Logo, Chris G. Harwood Orcid Logo, Karen Howells Orcid Logo, Camilla Knight Orcid Logo, Paul J. McCarthy Orcid Logo, Stephen D. Mellalieu Orcid Logo

Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Pages: 1 - 23

Swansea University Author: Camilla Knight Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Although applied sport psychologists are supporting young athletes drawing on experiential evidence of what works, there is a lack of understanding regarding how to effectively help young athletes enhance their wellbeing, long-term development, and performance. The aim of the current study was to ga...

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Published in: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
ISSN: 1041-3200 1533-1571
Published: Informa UK Limited
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa64769
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Abstract: Although applied sport psychologists are supporting young athletes drawing on experiential evidence of what works, there is a lack of understanding regarding how to effectively help young athletes enhance their wellbeing, long-term development, and performance. The aim of the current study was to gain insights into the consultancy process from accredited applied sport psychologists working with young athletes (5–18 years) in the United Kingdom, to inform the training and development of practitioners. An Interpretive Descriptive (ID) design was used to generate grounded knowledge relevant to applied practice contexts. The current study was conducted by a British Psychological Society (BPS), Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP), research working group and consisted of two phases: First, working group members (n = 6) participated in two separate focus groups. Second, in-depth interviews were conducted with UK-based sport psychology practitioners (n = 9) who had extensive knowledge and experience of working with young athletes. Reflexive thematic analysis generated six higher order themes: (a) Clear intentions, motives, and boundaries; (b) flexible and adaptable theoretical approaches; (c) seeking and securing connections; (d) multiple perspectives matter; (e) indirect interventions maximize impact; and (f) adaptation and integration determine Psychological Skills Training (PST) effectiveness. The current study offers unique and detailed insights regarding the consultancy process when working with young athletes. Such insights are crucial for applied sport psychologists to promote evidence-informed developmentally appropriate practice.Lay Summary: Experienced applied sport psychologists in the UK demonstrated clear motives for working with young athletes, used flexible and adaptable consultancy approaches, secured connections, and assessed young athletes from multiple perspectives. Indirect interventions (delivered through coaches, parents, etc.) were considered the most impactful, but adaptation and integration determined PST effectiveness.
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: This work was supported by the BPS DSEP research working groups initiative.
Start Page: 1
End Page: 23