Psychological momentum in elite female soccer: perceptions of players and coaches

Reid, Jessica and Crust, Lee (2012) Psychological momentum in elite female soccer: perceptions of players and coaches. In: BASES Student Conference 2012, 16-17 April 2012, University of East London.

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Abstract

The main purpose of the study was to examine elite female soccer players’ and licensed coaches’ perceptions of psychological momentum and how momentum relates to performance. A secondary aim was to explore the relationship between flow and momentum. Two types of momentum have been identified; positive and negative, with momentum being defined as having an added or gained psychological power which can give an athlete or set of athletes a feeling of having an advantage to their opponent. Momentum has been relatively under-researched in relation to player and coach perceptions, especially using qualitative methods. A previous review by Crust and Nesti (2006: Athletic Insight Journal, 8, 1) identified the need for further qualitative research to better understand participant perspectives and gain a clearer conceptualisation of momentum. To the authors knowledge there is only one soccer-related study, by Jones and Harwood (2008: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20, 57-72) which examines male soccer participants perceptions of momentum, and found four key themes; experiences of positive momentum, experiences of negative momentum, strategies to develop positive momentum and strategies to reverse negative momentum. One recent study by Swann, Keegan, Piggott, Crust and Smith (in press: Athletic Insight Journal) has begun to identify a relationship between flow and momentum in elite golf. Ethical approval was gained and followed by a pilot study using two non-elite female soccer players and one coach, which facilitated the development of appropriate questions. Six elite female soccer players were used for the study, all from within Lincolnshire (United Kingdom) and were classified as elite by having played at County Level or above. An initial focus group was used for the soccer players, as this replicates a team environment; however two follow-up semi-structured interviews were also conducted due to player availability and the need for additional data. Two female coaches were also interviewed. These coaches were qualified with one being a level 1 coach and the other a level 2 close to completion of their level 3 qualifications (experience with teams, academies, summer camps). Consistent use of probes was applied to all interviews in order to facilitate more in-depth responses. Questioning began with broad questions such as defining momentum to more specific questions such as controlling momentum. Focus groups and interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and from this an inductive thematic content analysis was conducted. At this stage data is only partially analysed. However, the preliminary focus group with four of the athletes found several themes such as; the prevalence of negative and positive momentum, past experiences, relations to performance, influence of coaches and team mates, and links to flow. Two key points which were raised during the initial focus group were the mediating effect of mental toughness and the differences between male and female soccer. In relation to controlling momentum there was broad agreement that this was partially down to players’ levels of mental toughness, especially in regard to reversing negative momentum. Participants also reported that team mates and spectators may have a bigger impact on momentum in female, rather than male soccer. Initial findings have began to identify a relationship between positive momentum and flow with statements such as ‘in the zone’ being a catalyst for momentum.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Presentation)
Additional Information:The main purpose of the study was to examine elite female soccer players’ and licensed coaches’ perceptions of psychological momentum and how momentum relates to performance. A secondary aim was to explore the relationship between flow and momentum. Two types of momentum have been identified; positive and negative, with momentum being defined as having an added or gained psychological power which can give an athlete or set of athletes a feeling of having an advantage to their opponent. Momentum has been relatively under-researched in relation to player and coach perceptions, especially using qualitative methods. A previous review by Crust and Nesti (2006: Athletic Insight Journal, 8, 1) identified the need for further qualitative research to better understand participant perspectives and gain a clearer conceptualisation of momentum. To the authors knowledge there is only one soccer-related study, by Jones and Harwood (2008: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20, 57-72) which examines male soccer participants perceptions of momentum, and found four key themes; experiences of positive momentum, experiences of negative momentum, strategies to develop positive momentum and strategies to reverse negative momentum. One recent study by Swann, Keegan, Piggott, Crust and Smith (in press: Athletic Insight Journal) has begun to identify a relationship between flow and momentum in elite golf. Ethical approval was gained and followed by a pilot study using two non-elite female soccer players and one coach, which facilitated the development of appropriate questions. Six elite female soccer players were used for the study, all from within Lincolnshire (United Kingdom) and were classified as elite by having played at County Level or above. An initial focus group was used for the soccer players, as this replicates a team environment; however two follow-up semi-structured interviews were also conducted due to player availability and the need for additional data. Two female coaches were also interviewed. These coaches were qualified with one being a level 1 coach and the other a level 2 close to completion of their level 3 qualifications (experience with teams, academies, summer camps). Consistent use of probes was applied to all interviews in order to facilitate more in-depth responses. Questioning began with broad questions such as defining momentum to more specific questions such as controlling momentum. Focus groups and interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and from this an inductive thematic content analysis was conducted. At this stage data is only partially analysed. However, the preliminary focus group with four of the athletes found several themes such as; the prevalence of negative and positive momentum, past experiences, relations to performance, influence of coaches and team mates, and links to flow. Two key points which were raised during the initial focus group were the mediating effect of mental toughness and the differences between male and female soccer. In relation to controlling momentum there was broad agreement that this was partially down to players’ levels of mental toughness, especially in regard to reversing negative momentum. Participants also reported that team mates and spectators may have a bigger impact on momentum in female, rather than male soccer. Initial findings have began to identify a relationship between positive momentum and flow with statements such as ‘in the zone’ being a catalyst for momentum.
Keywords:Elite Sport, Momentum, Qualitative Research
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:6342
Deposited By: Lee Crust
Deposited On:27 Sep 2012 19:03
Last Modified:12 Jun 2014 07:53

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