‘Psychological Skill Use for Performance Enhancement and Wellbeing in Youth Sport: Perceptions of British Sport Psychologists’

Sam N. Thrower, Jamie Barker, Adam M. Bruton, Peter Coffee, Nicholas Dann, Jennifer Cumming, Chris Harwood, Karen Howells, Camilla Knight, Paul McCarthy, Stephen Mellalieu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Objectives: The aim of the current study was to explore what can be learnt from sport psychologists practicing with young athletes in Great Britain. Specifically, the current study focused on: a) what are the most effective ways to assess and build working relationships with young athletes?. and b) what psychological skills and techniques are most effective/ineffective when working with young athletes?

Design: An Interpretive Descriptive (ID) design was used to generate important grounded knowledge that is relevant to applied practice contexts. Specifically, the goal of using ID as a research design was to create a sense-making structure for the eccentricities and variations that occur in the real world of sport psychology application.

Methods: The current study was conducted by a BPS DSEP working group and consisted of two phases: Firstly, group members participated in two focus groups (n = 6). Secondly, in-depth interviews were conducted with BASES or BPS accredited sport psychologists who had extensive knowledge and experience of working closely with young athletes during childhood, early-adolescence, and/or mid-to-late adolescence (n = 10). Audio recordings were transcribed professionally and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes were generated from the analytical process: Guiding philosophy and eclectic approaches, connecting with and understanding young athletes, psychological skill adaptation and integration, and indirect interventions within the wider system.

Conclusions: The current study offers unique and detailed insights regarding the consultancy process when working with young athletes. Such insights are crucial for neophyte sport psychologists in order to promote evidence-based developmentally appropriate practice within this area.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Psychological Society, Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology Annual Conference
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Aug 2021

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