Aaron L. Slusher and Edmund O. Acevedo
Physical activity is essential for optimal human functioning. However, the emergence of modern lifestyle conveniences has contributed to the increased prevalence of sedentary behavior. As a result, the psychobiological nature of physical activity and the positive impact of physical activity on body and brain communication has prompted investigators to utilize a breadth of research strategies and techniques to identify physical activity regimes, associated mental health benefits, and the plausible mechanisms that explain the mental health adaptations. Furthermore, investigators have provided evidence supporting a number of mechanisms that at least partially explain the psychological adaptations to acute (a single bout) and chronic (long-term) physical activity intervention. Through these efforts, the observed efficacy of physical activity as a potential therapeutic intervention strategy to ameliorate the most prevalent mental disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia), and to enhance mental illness-related and age-related impairments of cognitive function has received some attention in the literature and will likely lead to clarity and confidence for clinical use.
Athletes’ transition out of elite sport has drawn the attention of psychologists in view of the number of problems retired athletes face with which they are generally unprepared to cope. Research over the past decades has revealed that athletic retirement should not be viewed as a dead-end stop but rather as a process of transition. The quality of this transition is influenced not only by the pre- and post-retirement phases but also by the challenges retiring elite athletes have faced at different levels of their development. Using the holistic athletic career model, challenges faced by retiring athletes are described at the athletic, psychological, psychosocial, academic, vocational, financial, and legal levels of their development. Particular attention is paid to the influence of these multilevel challenges on retirees’ mental health. In conclusion, the roles of psychologists in preparing and supporting elite athletes during the transition out of their sport are considered.
Yeshayahu Hutzler and Joelle Almosni
Persons with intellectual disability (ID) exhibit reduced levels of participation in recreational and habitual physical activity, which leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and resulting medical and psychosocial burdens. In spite of their cognitive limitations, persons with ID are able to benefit from utilization of learner-centered approaches to physical activity participation. Several theoretical models, including social cognitive theory (SCT), self-determination theory (SDT), and constructivism, are helpful for explaining the benefits of internalizing learning within the framework of physical activity in persons with ID. Peer modeling, decision-making for leisure (DML), divergent production style (DPS), and the cycle of internalization (CIL) are practical teaching models focusing on internalizing learning experiences and developing an intrinsic motivation for action in the physical domain. These models have been successfully practiced in persons with ID, and their feasibility and effectiveness was established particularly for developing autonomy and social relatedness. In this article the theoretical constructs and the research literature pertaining to SCT, DML, DPS and CIL is reviewed, enabling to synthesize perspectives on how to integrate these models within residential, vocational or community based physical activity programs for persons with ID. Utilizing such models and practices may facilitate persons with ID developing an internalized motivational approach to participation in physical activity and therefore be beneficial for reducing risk factors, keeping fit and enhance quality of life. Staff members in community residences and homes for persons with ID as well as in day-care and vocational centers, should be encouraged to utilize such models as an alternative to the widely used directive teaching model following the behaviorist approach.
Anthony C. Hackney and Eser Ağgön
Stress is encountered by every individual on a daily basis. Such encounters can be of a negative (distress) or a positive (eustress) nature. Excessive and chronic distress exposure is associated with numerous health problems affecting both physiological and psychological components of a person’s well-being. One mediating aspect of these occurrences is the responses of the neuroendocrine system with the body. Physical activity (i.e., exercise) produces large and dramatic changes in the neuroendocrine system as it serves as a “stressor” to the system. To this end, though, chronic engagement in physical activity leads to exercise training-induced adaptations within the neuroendocrine system that potentiate an individual’s ability to deal with distressful experiences and exposures. Therefore, becoming more physically fit and exercise trained is one potential adjunctive therapy available for clinicians to recommend in the treatment of health problems associated with chronic exposure to distress.
Christopher M. Bader and Scott B. Martin
As a field of study, sport psychology is relatively young, gaining its formalized start in the United States in the 1920s. Then and now, the practice of sport psychology is concerned with the recognition of psychological factors that influence performance and ensuring that individuals and teams can perform at an optimal level. In the past 30 years, sport psychologists have made their way into intercollegiate athletics departments providing mental health and performance enhancement services to intercollegiate student-athletes. The differentiation between mental health practice and performance enhancement practice is still a source of some confusion for individuals tasked with hiring sport psychology professionals. Additionally, many traditionally trained practitioners (in both mental health and performance enhancement) are unaware of the dynamics of an intercollegiate athletic department. The interplay of the practitioner and those departmental dynamics can greatly influence the efficacy of the practitioner.
Gene M. Moyle
Literature regarding supervision and related supervisory and training models applied within the field of sport, exercise, and performance psychology (SEPP) has grown exponentially as the field continues to define and redefine itself. A range of supervision models from mainstream psychology has been explored and applied within SEPP settings, with research indicating that regardless of the preferred model of supervision, a key component of effective supervision is the supervisor’s knowledge and skills related to the area of service delivery.
Whilst the supervision of psychologists-in-training within performing arts settings presents similar challenges faced by those working in sport and exercise settings, the social, cultural, and artistic considerations embedded within these performance contexts necessitates a nuanced approach. The provision of supervision for psychologists within performing arts (e.g., dance, music, acting) requires scaffolded learning opportunities that assist the practitioner to gain an in-depth understanding of the context, including how to best tailor, translate, and communicate psychological concepts and skills to their clients that will address their unique challenges and meet their distinctive needs. Furthermore, clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of the supervisee within the organizational context of an artistic setting is vital to ensuring that effective and ethical service delivery can be provided.
Laura D. Ellingson and Christopher D. Black
Exercise is known to exert an influence on pain. Specifically, sensitivity to pain decreases both during and following a single bout of exercise—a phenomenon that has been termed exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH). EIH has been shown to occur following a variety of types of exercise including aerobic, dynamic resistance, as well as intermittent and continuous isometric exercise, and with a variety of types of pain stimuli including pressure, thermal, and electrical, among others. Depending upon the type of exercise, the intensity and duration of the exercise bout may affect the magnitude of EIH observed. EIH also may be influenced by presence of chronic pain. In individuals with chronic pain conditions, exercise can have both hypo- and hyperalgesic effects, again depending on the specifics of the exercise stimulus itself.
The mechanisms underlying EIH have not been definitively established. However, a number of potentially viable mechanisms have been examined including: release of stress mediators such as adrenocorticotrophic hormone and growth hormone (GH), stimulation of the endogenous opioid system, interactions between the pain modulatory system and the cardiovascular system resulting from shared neurological pathways, activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, and engagement of supraspinal pain inhibitory mechanisms via conditioned pain modulation (CPM). There is also some evidence that psychosocial factors, including pain-related beliefs like catastrophizing and expectation, may influence EIH.
Research in EIH has several important implications for research and practice. In healthy adults, reduced sensitivity to pain is a salient benefit of exercise and EIH responses may play a role in exercise adherence. For chronic pain patients, research on EIH has the potential to uncover mechanisms related to maintenance of chronic pain. Improving our understanding of how and why hyperalgesia occurs following exercise in these patients can aid in understanding central nervous system mechanisms of disease maintenance and ultimately may help to avoid symptom exacerbation with exercise. However, there remain practical and mechanistic questions to be examined. Translating reductions in pain sensitivity that occur with exercise under controlled laboratory conditions to situations that are more naturalistic will be an important next step for promoting physical activity as a treatment for pain.
Clinton Gahwiler, Lee Hill, and Valérie Grand’Maison
Since the 1970s, significant growth globally has occurred in the related fields of sport, exercise, and performance psychology. In Southern Africa, however, this growth has occurred unevenly and, other than isolated pockets of interest, there has been little teaching, research, or practice.
South Africa is an exception, however, even during the years of apartheid. A number of international sport psychology pioneers in fact visited South Africa during the 1970s on sponsored trips. Virtually all this activity took place in the economically advantaged sectors of the country, and it is only since the end of apartheid in 1994 that applied services have been extended to the economically disadvantaged areas through both government and private funding.
The 2010s have also seen a growing awareness in other Southern African countries, which have begun sporadically using (mainly foreign-based) sport psychology consultants. Among these countries, Botswana is currently leading the way in developing locally based expertise.
Throughout the Southern African region, sport, exercise, and performance psychology remain organizationally underdeveloped and unregulated. Local researchers and practitioners in the field face unique challenges, including a multicultural environment and a lack of resources. In working to overcome these challenges, however, they have the potential to significantly add value to the global knowledge base of sport, exercise, and performance psychology.
Jessica L. David, Jesse A. Steinfeldt, I. S. Keino Miller, and Jacqueline E. Hyman
Multiculturalism is a broad term that encapsulates a number of idealistic constructs related to inclusion, understanding the diverse experiences of others, and creating equitable access to resources and opportunity in our society. Social justice activism is a core tenet of multiculturalism. In order to be optimally effective, multiculturalism needs to be an “action word” rather than a passive construct, one that is inextricably linked to the ability to commit to and engage in an agenda of social justice wherein the inclusive ideals of multiculturalism are actively sought out and fought for.
One such domain where the constructs of multiculturalism and social action are playing out in real time is within U.S. sport. U.S. athletes across all ranks (i.e., Olympic, professional, college, and youth sports) are actively engaging in social justice activism by using their platforms to advocate for equality and human rights. A recent display of activism that has garnered worldwide attention was the silent protest of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. During the National Football League (NFL) preseason games of the 2016 season, Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem as a means to protest racial injustice, police brutality, and the killing of African Americans. Since the start of his protest, athletes around the nation and the world have joined the activist–athlete movement, thereby raising awareness of the mistreatment of African Americans within U.S. society. The activist–athlete movement has amassed support and generated momentum, but consulting sport psychology professionals can adopt a more active role to better support athletes, thereby advancing the movement. Consulting sport psychologists can strive to better understand the nature of athlete-activism and aspire to help their athlete clients explore and express their opinions so they can work to effect meaningful societal change, using sport as the vehicle for their message.
Aggressive behaviors and attitudes are investigated first of all from the viewpoint of psychology, sociology, and philosophy. These three disciplines could provide a coherent groundwork for the science on aggression in sport. The science on aggression in sport would be a discipline united by a bond between related issues and a unity of subject, and not by one uniform method.
There are two different viewpoints concerning aggression in sport: the cognitive and the ideological. The cognitive viewpoint approaches sports phenomena objectively in order to describe, explain, and compare them—that is, to present the real situation. The ideological viewpoint approaches the subject in an ideological way; that is, it strives for to presenting sport in the most favorable light, while attempting to hide its vices. This viewpoint makes it nearly impossible to diagnose the existing state of affairs, Attitudes towards aggression in sport, while taking into account other criteria, may be divided into the cognitive and the commonsense interpretations. Proponents of the commonsense viewpoint suggest that aggression is a solely negative entity and that it takes place only in the form of emotionally driven aggression meant to do harm. The cognitive interpretation suggests that there exist two forms of aggression in athletic rivalry: emotional aggression aimed at doing harm to an opponent and necessary aggression resulting from the regulations of a given sport.
Aggression in sport—considered from the viewpoint of regulations of particular sports—may be either necessary (that is, instrumental) or non-instrumental (that is, potential in the sense that it enables expression of emotions which are not provided for by regulations). Aggressive behavior is necessary when called for by the regulations of a given sport, specifically, among others, combat sports such as boxing, judo, or wrestling. Competitors who avoid fighting and who do not manifest aggressive behaviors in such a field are induced to manifest them and—if this does not bring results—may be punished by referees and, as a last resort, sent off.