Sporting Recommendations for Spiritual Encounters: Delivering Sport Psychology inside the English Premier League
Sport psychologists rarely discuss religious belief or spirituality in their work. Where they do, this is most usually in relation to flow and positive experiential states linked to optimal performance. This article argues that other spiritual dimensions, such as courage, sacrifice and suffering can also be encountered in sport, especially at elite and professional levels. By drawing on broader and more holistic approaches to identity in sport it becomes possible to recognise that for some athletes, religious faith and other sources of spirituality are a major source of meaning in their lives. Applied experiences of the author delivering sport psychology counselling inside several English Premier League teams over 9 seasons is used to highlight how spirituality can be encountered in work with elite professional footballers. Existential phenomenological psychology and philosophical personalism are offered as ways in which sport psychology might be able to find a suitable theoretical framework that can accommodate spiritual ideas and renew focus on the person of the athlete.
Mark Nesti, Martin Littlewood, Lisa O’Halloran, Martin Eubank and David Richardson
The present paper aims to specifically outline the critical moments that permeate professional football players’ development and existence in elite level English Premiership football. It also recognises the role of the applied sport psychologist in working with top players to address issues that challenge, impact (and change) player identity and personal meaning as they travel through their career from youth to professional to retirement. We conclude the paper by introducing some alternative perspectives on theory and practice. The paper is a result of the combined interests and applied activity of the authors and draws from theoretical frameworks and concepts in social psychology, existential phenomenological psychology and sociology. In this regard the paper attempts to synthesise (and celebrate) complimentary disciplines in order to allow us to consider the individual player within their social context.
Charlotte Chandler, Martin Eubank, Mark Nesti and Tim Cable
Previous literature within applied sport psychology offers little detailed discussion regarding the personal qualities of sport psychology practitioners and the impact of these qualities on practice. This paper presents an exploration of the views of sport physicians regarding the personal characteristics and qualities of applied sport psychologists deemed necessary for effective practice. Five UK-based physicians and one Head of Medical Services, working in a range of elite and professional sports, were interviewed about their experience and perceptions of working with sport psychologists. The interview transcripts were content analysed and trustworthiness criteria applied. Four key themes emerged from the data, labelled ‘Personal qualities’, ‘Relationship Building’, ‘Professionalism in Practice’, and ‘Similarities between Psychologist and Physician’. The findings within each theme offered interesting insights into the impact of personal qualities on effective sport psychology practice. This study extends the existing literature on sport psychologists’ characteristics and effectiveness and offers new insights into their personal qualities and how these interact with the practice environment. The findings supported the growing emphasis within the field on the importance of the person behind the practitioner. Suggestions are offered with reference to the need to consider how literature from counselling psychology and medical training could assist the development of practice and education and training in sport psychology.