Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology


Click here for

         Nearly one year ago, Dr. Humara, the Editor and Chief of Athletic Insight and I began speaking about the possibility of an entire AI edition, devoted solely to athletic performance in professional sport. Professional sport is a wonderful testing ground of athletic resilience, and therefore athletic insight. Professional athletes perform under the spotlight, with at very least, sponsors, owners, media, and fans looking on. The professional athleteís readiness is tested continuously, and measurements of performance are often unforgiving. The pursuit of athletic excellence is often evaluated in terms of hundredths of a second and hundredths of an inch. Professional sport, with its small margins of error, provides a wonderful venue for athletes to test their skills, including their mental skills.

         When discussing athlete / team performance in professional sport, there are a wide number of factors that together, tend to influence competency. For instance, employing the broadest of perspectives, one can consider the interpersonal rapport that bridges athletes, their coaching staff and their family members. Inversely, one can engage in a discussion of role clarity, and within it, the boundaries of sport psychology consultants who typically work as part of a larger staff within professional sport milieus. Additionally, any examination of professional athlete performance needs to include the essential facets of athlete control, including their self-regulatory attempts, and supplemental support-staff [proxy] control behaviors, in both mastery and coping circumstances. There is also the over-arching consideration of athlete perspective. These motivational factors are merely the tip of the professional sport iceberg, and they only provide a glimpse of useful sport psychology starting points.

         What I am trying to say is that professional sport environments are complex and they are best understood through a multifaceted consideration of context and intervention. Performance in professional sport requires a wide number of athlete and support-staff skills. This is why the invited contributions from the experienced professional sport consultants herein tend to span many topics. For the authors to suggest otherwise would have provided a misleading and overly simplified impression of professional sport consultation today.

         For this special edition, AI and its senior staff have welcomed a few authors with first hand consulting experience in professional sport to share their stories and their views. One such person is Dr. Cal Botterill, an experienced consultant with successful Stanley Cup experience to his name. Beyond contributing to successful elite ice-hockey teams, Cal is also a parent of two medal winning Olympic hockey players. Dr. Wayne Halliwell, fortunately, also agreed to contribute to the current edition of AI. Wayne has contained himself mostly to experiences working successfully with National Hockey League teams in this edition. However, his discussion understates accolades that span summer and winter sports at the Olympic and professional levels. Together, these two world renowned consultants have provided detailed and practical insights regarding their approaches to professional team sport consulting, and they have chosen professional ice-hockey as their backdrop.

         There are also two papers devoted solely to individual professional sport. The first paper is written by Dr. Tom Ferraro, an eminent sport consultant from the private sector, who in his article, agreed to emphasize experiences with Professional Golf Association athletes. Tom has amassed considerable experience assisting successful professional athletes on site at crucial tournaments, among them, golfers at the US Open. His views of effective sport consulting are insightful, as is his comprehensive clinical psychology approach with athletes. To compliment Tomís experiences, I have contributed personal experiences working with professional boxing. My professional boxing experiences have spanned four continents, and I have had the privilege of supporting athletes and coaches during successful world title bids and world title defenses.

         As you will see, each one of us has different stories to share, and we all seem to hold slightly different consulting perspectives. For instance, there appear to be different views regarding what extent a sport psychology consultant ought to be publicly visible. Perspectives, at first blush, appear to differ. However, it is worth remembering that each sport has its own unique challenges, its own unique demands, and its own unique norms. Therefore, the differences from one contribution to the next might be as much a reflection of sport as they are a reflection of consultants.

         With an emphasis on unique vantages, AI has attempted to preserve the authenticity of each authorís views, and each sportís inherent differences. You will find that each contribution is presented differently. Some authors have written entirely in prose. Others have included bullets and free standing bolded key words. Some have chosen to emphasize sport culture, where others have opted to emphasize mental skills, and only alluded to group norms as part of the backdrop to their experiences. These choices were left entirely to the discretion of each author. From first invitation onward to final product, the authors were provided latitude to choose whichever performance factors they believed were the most important aspects for you, the reader, to consider. And as you will see, their combined experiences paint a comprehensive and colorful picture of sport psychology consultation in modern day professional sport.

         In closing, AI wishes to thank the authors for their contributions. Their views provide a taste of the diverse consulting tactics that enrich todayís sport psychology practice. It is our hope that you, the reader, find this first AI special edition and its topic matter insightful.

Robert Schinke
Co-Editor Banner

We look forward to your comments and feedback.  Simply e-mail Athletic Insight.
Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology: Line Mental Health Net Award Winner
Copyright © 2004 Athletic Insight, Inc.
ISSN 1536-0431