Elite athlete receptivity to sport psychology consulting in Ireland

David Woods, Mary Margaret Meade, Craig Mahoney, Gavin Breslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study assessed the willingness of elite athletes from Northern Ireland and theRepublic of Ireland to seek sport psychology consulting (SPC), their perceptions ofthe potential benefits of SPC to themselves or their team and how accessible theyperceive SPC to be. A sample of elite and sub-elite athletes (n = 68) completed anonline survey and a sub-sample (n = 7) also participated in a semi-structuredinterview. Results showed that athletes were willing to seek assistance from SPCfor a wide range of topics such as building confidence, improving focus anddealing with injury, although a preference was displayed for topics more readilyperceived as directly related to enhancing performance. All SPC topics exploredwere perceived to be of benefit, with a similar preference expressed for topicsmore readily associated with enhancing performance, for example, competing aswell in competition as in practice, over dealing with personal issues orcommunication. Chi-square tests revealed athletes with highly effective priorexperience of SPC were more receptive to SPC than those with less effectiveexperiences (p <.01). Access to SPC was considered low by 48% of athletes, withidentified themes suggesting athlete support networks, either head coaches orgoverning bodies, were the key decision-makers and ‘gatekeepers’ regardingathlete access to SPC. The findings have implications for marketing the practicalbenefits of SPC across the island of Ireland and highlight the room forimprovement in providing better athletes’ access.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalThe Irish Journal of Psychology
VolumeOnline
Early online date24 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • performance
  • expertise
  • exercise
  • games
  • skill

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