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The effect of a mental health literacy intervention on Chinese team officials and staff in elite sports: a two-arm non-randomised controlled trial

ABSTRACT Mental health issues among elite athletes have received much attention in recent years. A supportive sport promotes the mental health of its athletes, team officials and staff play a crucial role in assisting athletes to seek help for their mental health when needed. However, studies have demonstrated that these individuals do not have sufficient knowledge to provide the appropriate support and assistance. Mental health literacy (MHL) is a major factor influencing support and help-seeking attitudes. Therefore, the current study aimed to provide support staff with knowledge about MHL to increase their MHL levels, reduce their stigma towards mental health issues, and improve their help-seeking attitude and their confidence in helping athletes with mental health issues. To this end, a two-arm non-randomised controlled trial was used, during which one 4-hour MHL workshop was delivered to 74 team officials and staff between the ages of 22–54 (M = 35.65, SD = 8.16). Data were collected at three time points (pre-intervention, post- intervention and follow-up). The results showed that the participants in the MHL group significantly outperformed those in the wait list control (WLC) group in terms of improved MHL and help-seeking attitude and reduced stigma. However, compared with the WLC group, the participants’ confidence in helping athletes with mental health issues did not significantly improve at post- and follow-up examinations. This study has practical implications for interventions designed to promote MHL among Chinese team officials and staff in elite sports and provides suggestions for future research on MHL and help-seeking.

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Reciprocal relationships between teamwork execution, emergent states, and perceived team performance: a longitudinal study

ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to analyze the reciprocal relationships between teamwork execution (i.e., communication, cooperation, and coordination), emergent states (i.e., group cohesion and collective efficacy), and perceived team performance among sport teams over the course of a competitive season. We also examined whether (a) emergent states mediated the relationship between teamwork execution and perceived team performance, and (b) teamwork execution mediated the relationship between emergent states and perceived team performance. We adopted a longitudinal design, taking measures of each variable near the beginning, middle, and end of teams’ seasons. Participants included 657 athletes (104 teams), aged 16–43 years (M = 23.56, SD = 5.72; 71% men), and from a range of team sports and competitive levels. Structural equation models showed teamwork execution was positively and reciprocally related to collective efficacy as well as task cohesion (but not social cohesion). Teamwork execution also predicted perceived team performance over time but a reciprocal effect was not evident. Finally, task cohesion and collective efficacy mediated the longitudinal association between teamwork execution and perceived team performance; however, teamwork execution did not mediate the relationship between those emergent states and perceived team performance. These findings provide initial evidence of longitudinal relationships between teamwork execution, two emergent states, and perceived performance. It appears particularly important that coaches and practitioners focus on developing teamwork execution from the outset of their team’s season as this appears to translate over time into greater task cohesion and collective efficacy and, in turn, team performance.

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The psychology of Gaelic games: a co-produced scoping review to inform research, policy, and practice

ABSTRACT Gaelic games are a family of indigenous Irish sports played in Ireland and across the world. With recent growth in research on the psychology of Gaelic games and developments in sport science policy in this context, there is a need to map and clarify understanding of psychology in Gaelic games. Against this backdrop, we conducted a scoping review that aimed to identify and synthesise current literature on the psychology of Gaelic games, with the intention of generating findings that could have implications for research, policy, and practice. After electronic database searches and manual searches up to September 2023, we included data from 42 articles involving 4963 Gaelic games participants in the review. We organised findings into eight categories: mental health and wellbeing; burnout; youth coaching practices; psychology of injury; attentional processes; optimal experiences and performing under pressure; identity; and female coach development. In light of the findings, we offer (a) five recommendations for researchers to strengthen the quality of research in future, and (b) five implications for policy and practice, some of which might also be transferable to other sport contexts. We believe that consideration of our recommendations for research can build a stronger and more coherent evidence base for policy and practice. By doing so, this can ultimately lead to more meaningful and tangible benefits for all in Gaelic games.

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A systematic review of quantitative studies concerning psychological aspects of early specialisation

ABSTRACT Despite the intense and long-standing interest surrounding early sport specialisation, scholars still debate its nature and implications. Previous researchers have also identified the need for further research relating to the psychological aspects of early specialisation such as lower quality motivation, dropout and burnout. To help guide future research it is important to build upon the quantitative literature concerning such psychological aspects of early specialisation. The specific aims of this paper are to provide an overview of research results of quantitative studies that set out to explore relationships between early specialisation and psychological aspects, and to critically examine the designs of such studies. As such, study design characteristics including participant demographics, the psychological aspects represented, and the research questions and results are explored. Data searches were conducted in PubMed, SportDiscus, and PsychINFO using search terms such as “early sport speciali*”. Twenty-one relevant papers met the inclusion criteria. The results highlight that the published papers in this area are broad in some respects (variety of sports, performance levels, and gender), but narrow in others (North American dominance, few psychological aspects explored, and few papers per psychological aspect). Many of the studies are based on cross-sectional and retrospective self-reports. Overall, this paper serves as a foundation on which to design future research studies in this area.

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The effects of a single bout of high-intense strength exercise on cognitive function and postural dual-task control in older adults

ABSTRACT In this study we aimed to test if acute strength exercise would induce cognitive improvements. Secondarily, we examined the relationship between exercise-induced changes in cognitive function and postural dual-task control. Thirty-seven cognitively intact, non-faller older adults (≥60 years) were nonrandomly allocated to strength exercise or control. Strength exercise consisted of Smith machine squats (one session, 3 × 3reps at 90%, 95%, and 100% one-repetition maximum). Control participants held seated rest for 45 min. Cognitive functions, recognition (memory search), working memory (mathematical processing), processing speed (2-choice reaction time), and postural dual-task control were tested before and immediately after exercise or control using the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics-4 (ANAM4) battery and a mathematical counting task while maintaining a tandem Romberg stance with eyes open on a force plate. Outcome measures were response time and performance index (100 × [accuracy/response time]) on the ANAM4 tests and sway activity and entropy during the postural dual-task. We found a non-significant improvement with moderate effect size in performance index on the mathematical processing task of experimental participants compared to control participants (p = 0.145,  = 0.060). Improvements in the mathematical processing task over time in the control group were associated with increased sway activity during the postural dual-task. No significant associations were found between changes in cognitive function and changes in postural control in the experimental group. Ultimately, our results may direct researchers and healthcare professionals in designing the optimal exercise treatment to improve cognitive function and postural control in older adults.

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The behavioural regulation in exercise questionnaire (BREQ): psychometric properties and associations with physical activity outcomes in a Norwegian sample of physically active adults

ABSTRACT We investigate the factor structure and psychometric properties of different versions of the Behavioural Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ), which measures exercise motivation, and explore the association with physical activity (PA) outcomes, in a Norwegian sample of physically active adults. The sample consisted of N = 1198, 68.9% men, mean age 49.1 (SD = 11.4) using a cross-sectional design. We analysed several BREQ versions with confirmatory factor analysis to retain the one with the best model fit: The 15-item BREQ, 19-item BREQ-2, 19-item BREQ with integrated regulation, 18-item BREQ-3, and 24-item BREQ-3. An 18-item BREQ-2 with five factors (external, introjected, identified, and intrinsic regulation, and amotivation) showed excellent model fit (χ 2 = 493.848; df = 125; RMSEA = .050; 90% CI [0.045-0.054]; CFI = .975; TLI = .969; SRMR = .041), with the item “I get restless if I don’t exercise regularly” removed. Configural, metric, scalar, and strict measurement invariance was supported. Intrinsic motivation was associated with the PA index (PA-I), PA frequency, duration, and intensity, and estimated cardiorespiratory fitness (eCRF). Identified regulation was associated with PA-I, PA frequency and eCRF, and introjected regulation with PA-I and intensity. External regulation was negatively related to PA frequency and eCRF, while amotivation was unrelated to all outcomes. The results support the factorial validity of the 18-item BREQ-2. The poor model fit found for other BREQ versions warrants additional studies to investigate the psychometric properties in physically active adult samples. Autonomous motivation factors were most important for PA outcomes.

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The future-oriented hopes and goals of adolescent student-athletes in Finnish sport high schools

ABSTRACT As most young athletes do not end up making a living in sport, and professional athletic careers are relatively short, adolescent athletes need to think about and plan their future outside of sport. The present longitudinal study examined the future-oriented hopes and goals of adolescent student-athletes in Finland at the beginning and end of sport high school. Gender differences in these hopes and goals were also examined. The sample consisted of 381 student-athletes (51% females, 49% males) in the autumn of the first year of high school and 351 student-athletes (50% females, 50% males) in the spring of the third year, who filled in a questionnaire at both measurement points. A total of 11 goal categories consisting of 49 subcategories were identified using directed content analysis. Changes across time and gender differences in these hopes and goals were examined using the “N-1” chi-squared test. The results showed that sport-related hopes and goals were the most common at both measurement points. However, only 51% and 27% of the participants mentioned dual careers in their goals for the future at the beginning and end of high school, respectively. The female participants reported statistically significantly more goals related to education and a dual career and statistically significantly fewer goals related to sport than males. Further, male participants reported statistically significantly more often not knowing their future hopes and goals than females.

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The development and validation of the Youth Sport Parental Support-Questionnaire (YSPS-Q)

ABSTRACT The concept of parental support in youth sport has been well studied, however, the measurement of the construct is not as advanced. Existing sport parenting literature has relied on study-designed instruments and/or psychometric instruments not developed or validated for use in the sport-specific context. The present multi-study research programme sought to develop and validate a theory-informed measure of parental support in youth sport. In study one, athletes’ perceptions of parental support were explored to gain an in-depth qualitative understanding of parental support. The findings from study one were subsequently utilised to inform the generation of initial scale items (70 items) which reflected parental support in study two. Content validity was then established during study two, through an expert panel of judges (n = 5) and members of the target population (n = 7). During study three, retained items (33 items) were administered to a sample of youth athletes (n = 318) for further item reduction and to explore the factor structure of the instrument, utilising exploratory factor analysis (EFA). In study four, a 19-item measure was administered to a second independent sample of youth athletes (n = 319), to confirm the factor structure of the instrument utilising confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Following minor ad-hoc modifications, the final four-factor, 18-item YSPS-Q (autonomy; emotional; instrumental; informational support) demonstrated excellent model fit. Moreover, the 18-item YSPS-Q demonstrated good reliability, alongside convergent, and divergent validity. The YSPS-Q will enable researchers to effectively evaluate future parent-support programmes, and assist researchers in understanding what factors moderate its effectiveness.

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