• I’m delighted to speak with Jen Harris this week. Jen is an expert in the field of parenting in youth sport. As the mother of a child athlete Jen was struck how little help there is for parents and decided to help change this. She undertook a Masters degree in Sport Psychology, the focus of which was parenting in youth sport. For her dissertation she created the Super-P Approach; an easy to teach parental communication style which can significantly reduce worry levels in child athletes. Jen is now completing her PhD at The University of Edinburgh to extend the research into her Super-P Approach.

    Jen has also launched a business, Raising Happy Champs, which offers workshops and an extensive e-learning program to parents of children involved in competitive sport. Jen teaches parents sport psychology principals and how to apply them to improve their child’s experience of sport.

    In this episode we speak about Jen’s experiences as a sport parent and we discuss the results of a study Jen undertook along with Prof Dave Collins and Dr Christine Nash entitled “Let’s Hear It From the Kids! Examining the Experiences, Views, and Needs of Highly Committed Children Involved in Youth Sport”.

  • In this episode I’m delighted to speak with Dr Paul Mansell and Dr Katie Sparks.

    Paul is a lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Staffordshire University. Paul completed his PhD in 2023 at the University of Birmingham which investigated the role of trait beliefs in determining stress appraisals, performance and well-being. Paul continues to research in this area, with a specific focus on stress mindset and irrational beliefs. Specifically, Paul has constructed an intervention informed by the REBT framework to enhance well-being and performance under pressure.

    Katie is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Staffordshire University and is currently undertaking her PhD at University of Birmingham. Katie is also a mindfulness practitioner. She previously worked with British Rowing as a Performance Lifestyle Advisor and ran psychology educational workshops within their talent development pathway.

    Paul and Katie discuss the findings of a study that investigated whether a multimodal cognitive-behavioural intervention could enhance young athletes’ psychological well-being and performance. The intervention employed a combination of education and reappraisal delivered in 6 × 1-hour group workshops. Content included stress mindset, irrational beliefs, self-compassion, and imagery. They found that teaching athletes simple cognitive behavioural techniques can change their ‘stress mindset’ and, in turn, enhance their wellbeing and performance.

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  • I’m delighted to speak with Ben Freakley this week. Ben is a highly skilled and experienced sport psychology professional, helping athletes, coaches, and teams to achieve peak performance and reach their goals. Ben is also the founder of Ready.Set.Resilient.

    Ben has coached individuals, athletes, teams, soldiers, and businesses on the psychology of performance, leadership, team dynamics, and well-being for nearly 20 years. Along the way, Ben has been a NCAA Division I men’s soccer coach, mental performance coach for special operations forces, Head of Mental Performance for the Toronto Blue Jays and he now works in the MLS and USL.

    Ben holds master’s degrees in Sport Psychology and Sport Management from Georgia Southern University where he was an NCAA Division I athlete. He has a doctoral degree in Sport and Performance Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counselling. Ben is a Certified Mental Performance Coach (CMPC) and member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

    I talk to Ben about his experiences as both a coach and a sport psychology professional and we discuss the factors inherent in high performance coaching environments.

  • I’m delighted to speak with Matthew Layton this week. Matt is head of youth development phase at Swansea City Football Club. He manages the multidisciplinary staff departments and the players within the youth development phase to support and coordinate their pathway throughout the programme into the professional development phase.

    Matt and I discuss a brilliant paper he co-wrote with Dr Jamie Taylor and Prof Dave Collins about the measurement, tracking and development practices of academies. The paper is available here https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640414.2023.2289758

  • I’m delighted to speak with Dr Sam Thrower this week. Sam is a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Oxford Brookes University. His main research interests lie in the area of youth sport and specifically the psychosocial development of young athletes. He is particularly interested in topics such as parenting in sport, sport-confidence, motivational climates, stress and coping, and anti-doping in sport. Sam’s research in these areas has been published in a range of leading international journals including: ‘Psychology of Sport & Exercise’, ‘Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise & Health’, ‘Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology’, ‘Journal of Applied Sport Psychology’ and 'Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology'. His current research focuses on parent-child interactions and the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based sport parent education programmes.

    In this episode we discuss a paper Sam led about enhancing wellbeing, long-term development, and performance in youth sport.

  • I’m delighted to speak with Dr Shakiba Moghadam this week. Shakiba is a chartered psychologist with a specific focus on community psychology, as well as sport and exercise psychology. Shakiba currently lectures in psychology and Sport and Exercise psychology at Solent University.

    Shakiba graduated with a first-class honours degree in BSc Psychology from the University of Portsmouth and completed her MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Portsmouth.

    Shakiba’s research predominantly focuses on mental health literacy and athlete mental health, experiences of women athletes in male dominated sports, human rights violations in sports, and the experiences of marginalised communities such as refugees and asylum seekers. She is one of four leads on the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science’s SEPAR equality, diversity, and inclusivity workshops where much of her work focuses on providing training on cultural competence in practice for upcoming sport and exercise psychologists. Shakiba is also the Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Human Rights Advisory Group.

  • This week I’m delighted to speak to Dr Charlie Corsby, Prof Robyn Jones and Dr Andy Lane.

    Charlie is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Charlie holds a UEFA ‘A’ Licence coaching qualification. Alongside his academic responsibilities, Charlie is the Head Coach for Cardiff Met FC BUCS1 programme.​ The focus of Charlie’s research relate to the everyday complexities and affairs of coaches, particularly relating to ‘influence’ and ‘control’ within the coaching context.

    Robyn is Professor of Sport and Social Theory and a former Associate Dean of Research at Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. Robyn’s research area comprises a critical sociology of coaching in respect of examining the relational nature of the work, and how practitioners manage the power-ridden dilemmas that arise. The purpose is to generate critical insight into an important part of cultural life, namely that of sports participation, and how that complex experience is framed by coaches

    Andy is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University. He is currently the Programme Director for the BSc Sport Coaching Undergraduate degree and teaches across undergraduate and post graduate programmes. Andrew also currently supervises a number of post graduate students within coaching and coach education and is a member of the Schools Social Science ethics committee.

    We discuss a paper co-written by Charlie, Robyn and Andy entitled “Contending with vulnerability and uncertainty: what coaches say about coaching”.

  • I’m delighted to speak with Prof Chris Harwood this week. Chris is the Director of the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). He is a Professor of Sport Psychology at NTU where his research focuses on the psychosocial aspects of athlete development, wellbeing and performance including the roles of the coach, parents, and the wider social and organisational environment. Chris is particularly focused on the integration of psychological principles into youth sport settings and his applied research is characterised by working with the support system around young people. Chris is also prominent in the area of professional development, supervision and training of sport psychologists in the UK and international systems.

    We speak about Chris’s research over the past 30 years, focusing on Achievement Goal Theory, Reflection-in-Action, and the 5 C’s: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence.

  • I am delighted to welcome back Dr Ian Peek in this episode. Ian has been a golf coach for 35 years. He is currently consulting with the Swiss Golf Federation supporting the coaches at national and regional level and supporting parents at some of the leading juniors in the country.

    Ian helps his clients achieve their goals whether that’s transitioning to a new level of achievement or maintaining their position at the top of their sport or industry.

    Ian is also a PGA Master Professional - the highest educational level in The PGA - which recognises PGA Members who make a significant effort to improve themselves as golf professionals and maintain the highest degree of excellence for themselves and their operations.

    In this episode Ian and I discuss the mental health challenges that professional sport competitors face when competing at the very highest level of their game.

  • In this episode I’m delighted to welcome back Prof Mark Williams and Prof Nicola Hodges to speak about skill acquisition in sport.

    Mark Williams is a Senior Research Scientist at The Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC)- a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System and is affiliated with several Florida universities. Mark was previously at the University of Utah, where he was professor and chairman of the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation. Mark has held various senior leadership positions Liverpool John Moores University, University of Sydney and Brunel University, London.

    Mark’s research interests focus on the neural and psychological mechanisms underpinning the acquisition and development of expertise. He has published almost 300 journal articles in peer-reviewed outlets in numerous fields including exercise and sports science

    Nikki is a Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver in the School of Kinesiology. It is at UBC that Nikki runs the Motor Skills Laboratory where she studies the mechanisms of motor skill learning. Her research focuses on processes involved in watching, learning and predicting from others and how practice should be best structured to bring about long-term enhancement of motor skills and high-level performance (particularly in sport). She has been involved in sport-consulting and she has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and chapters.

  • I’m delighted to speak with Dr Daniel Fortin-Guichard this week. Daniel works as a Postdoc fellow at the University of Toronto where he specialises in talent identification research through psychological characteristics.

    Daniel received his PhD from Université Laval in psychology with a specialty in perceptual-cognitive skills in sports. In parallel with his thesis, Daniel worked with the Quebec Remparts hockey team as an advisor to the scouting staff. Each year, Daniel travelled the Province of Quebec and the Maritimes with the scouts to measure the players' psychological and perceptual-cognitive skills.

    In this episode we discuss a paper that Daniel led which looked at the identification of “sleeping” talent using psychological characteristics.

  • In this episode I’m joined by Dr Keith McShan and Dr Whitney Moore. We talk about coach-athlete relationships.

    Keith is Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Missouri State University. Before joining MSU, Keith was an active high school basketball and football coach in Canada. Keith has worked for organisations such as Football Canada, Duke University Men’s Basketball Camp, and the Corporation of the City of Windsor.

    Keith is an active member of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) and The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Keith is the current faculty advisor for the Kinesiology Research and Career (KRC) Club.

    Whitney is Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University. Prior to this, Whitney was an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas and an Associate Professor at Wayne State University.

    Whitney previously owned and was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for MOORE Training. Her company focused on providing high-quality training for youth and adults.

    In this episode we discuss a fascinating paper Keith and Whitney edited entitled “A systematic Review of the Coach-Athlete Relationship From the Coaches’ Perspective”.

  • I’m excited to speak with Dr Mark Aoyagi this week. Mark is the Co-Director of the Master’s programme in Sport and Performance Psychology and Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver. He is also the founder of the Center for Performance Excellence.

    Mark’s areas of expertise include performance excellence, team effectiveness, and achieving meaning, satisfaction and fulfilment through sport, work, and life. He is a recognised sport psychology consultant and has worked with several professional and Olympic teams and athletes as well as NCAA athletic departments and developmental athletes. Mark is active in several professional organizations including the International Society for Sport Psychology, American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

    In this episode Mark and I speak about theories of performance excellence.

  • In this episode I’m joined by Dr Alison Maitland and Jenna Ashford to talk about their new book “Drop the Struggle: A Transformative Approach to Achieving Your Potential in Sport and Life”.

    Alison is a widely recognised and experienced HCPC registered and BASES accredited Sport Psychologist. She has a PhD in elite sport and uses her expertise in human performance in a wide range of settings in sport and businesses around the world. Alison has helped elite athletes achieve World Championship titles and Olympic success.

    Jenna is a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist and Performance Consultant, working with top athletes, CEO's at global companies and within sectors including education and healthcare. Jenna is also a passionate sportswoman and represented England Hockey and played in premier league teams all over the world.

    Their book, “Drop the Struggle” is based on scientifically proven techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and takes a radically new look at the mental side of reaching your potential in sport. It has been written for athletes, coaches and anyone wanting to achieve more and provides a practical kitbag of ways to succeed. It will teach you a sustainable way of dealing with difficult thoughts, managing your emotions and harnessing them to help you perform to the best of your ability.

  • In this episode I’m joined by Dr James Munnik and Prof Leon Van Niekerk.

    James is a Counselling Psychology Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. James has worked with a number of athletes in his own private practice as a high performance mental coach in psychotherapy and counselling. He has special interests in sport/exercise psychology research and Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) theory and practice.

    Leon is a Professor of Psychology at University of Fort Hare in South Africa. He is a registered Counselling Psychologist and has his own psychology consultancy practice where he focuses on the provision of sport psychological services to individual athletes and teams.

    Leon’s research interests are in the psychological well-being of athletes. This includes topics such as the development of mental toughness, sport identity and life roles, burnout, stress and anxiety among athletes, the effectiveness of mindfulness during competition, mental health in sport and the psychological health benefits of exercise.

    In this episode we discuss a paper entitled “Recommendations for Integrating Psychological Skills Training (PST) into Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT)” which was led by James and co-written by Dr Martin Turner and Leon.

  • On this week’s episode I speak to Dr Chris Mesagno. Chris is a sport psychologist, a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Victoria University, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University.

    Chris has over 20 years of research expertise in stress, anxiety, attention and concentration skills and has successfully developed theory-matched interventions to improve performance for highly anxious and “choking-susceptible” athletes. Chris also worked, and continues to work, with numerous athletes from a range of team and individual sports to enhance mental skills for better performance and mental health outcomes.

    Chris maintains a robust academic research profile with more than 50 research articles and book chapters and has given various presentations at national and international conferences. This international research profile has been recognised with awards and keynote conference presentations within sport and exercise psychology.

    In this episode we focus on a paper led by Dr Peter Gröpel and co-written by Chris entitled “Choking interventions in sports: A systematic review”. The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview of studies that have tested interventions used to alleviate choking. The results of the paper may help athletes and coaches select and implement effective strategies and methods to improve performance under pressure.

  • In this episode I’m joined by Dr Ella McLoughlin and Dr Rachel Arnold. We discuss a paper that was led by Ella which examines how stressors influence sport performers’ health, well-being, and performance.

    Ella is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Nottingham Trent University. Her research interests span the topics of lifetime stressor exposure, the enhancement of health, well-being, and performance, and psychophysiological responses to acute stressors among athletes.

    Ella is a member of the Sport, Health, and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre. She has published in peer-reviewed journals in the area of stress, health, and performance and has presented her work at national and international conferences.

    Rachel is the Academic Director (Doctoral) and a Reader in Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Bath. Rachel is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, registered Practitioner Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council, accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Chartered Scientist with The Science Council, and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

    Rachel’s research looks at how individuals and organisations can optimally manage stress to enable thriving, predominantly in sport but also in high pressure domains. She has published widely in leading peer-reviewed journals on the area of stress, performance, and well-being.

  • I’m excited to speak with Dr Steve Ingham this week. Steve has spent his career immersed in high performance having provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. He also coached Kelly Sotherton to Olympic and World medal winning success.

    Steve worked at the British Olympic Association as the Sports Science Manager and then English Institute of Sport as the Head of Physiology and then Director of Science and Technical Development where he led a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB.

    Steve is the host of the brilliant Supporting Champions podcast which explores aspects of human performance. He is also an author, having written the best-selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’ and ‘The First Hurdle: A guide to searching, applying and interviewing for jobs in sports performance’. Steve is a motivational speaker and consultant on the topic of 'high performance teams', having spoken at Google, McLaren, Elastic, Samsung, Legal and General.

    Steve and I discuss his journey as a sport scientist and leader, discussing the challenges he’s experienced along the way and the leadership processes he executed to help develop some of the world’s greatest athletes.

    To fill in the industry survey that Steve discusses in the episode please click here: https://www.supportingchampions.co.uk/skills/

  • I’m joined by Dr Jon Rhodes in this episode. Jon is an Associate Lecturer in Motivational Psychology and Sport Psychology at the University of Plymouth. Jon is also a Chartered Cognitive Psychologist and is co-developer of Functional Imagery Training (FIT) which is a unique approach to behaviour change that uses mental imagery to motivate change. FIT teaches people new ways of thinking about their immediate future to help them stay motivated as they achieve each small step towards their goal.

    Jon has written about FIT in his new book “The Choice Point: The Scientifically Proven Method for Achieving Your Goals” co-written with Joanna Grover. The book describes how FIT can help us lengthen our Choice Point: that moment when we say to ourselves, 'Am I going to make the healthy decision, or am I going to choose to take an action that I know will undermine my success?'. Merging mindfulness, motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy into a user-friendly model, The Choice Point grants us control of the decisions that define us.

  • I’m delighted to speak to Dr Carla Edwards in this week’s episode. Carla is a psychiatrist whose practice focuses on the treatment of mental illness and psychological struggles in athletes.

    Carla completed her Bachelor of Science and Masters’ degrees in Chemistry at Mount Allison University. While completing her degrees, she also competed on their varsity volleyball team, accumulating such awards as Conference Rookie of the Year and First Team All Star for each of her five years of competition. She was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sport Hall of Fame in 2015. Carla obtained her medical degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland before completing a psychiatry residency at McMaster University. She has been an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at McMaster University since 2005.

    Carla is President at the International Society for Sports Psychiatry which aims to carry the science and practice of psychiatry to the athletic community, so that all people may enjoy the benefits of healthy participation in sports. The Society develops the field of sports psychiatry and advocates for mental health and wellness in sports.

    Carla also holds leadership positions with the Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative, and U SPORTS. Additionally, Carla is involved with the Safe Sport International Athlete Working Group, the Canadian Football League mental health program and the NCAA Mental Health Advisory Group.

    Drawing from her extensive experience working with athletes Carla has written a paper entitled “Athlete Maltreatment in Sport” which we discuss in detail.

    You can find the paper here: https://www.sportsmed.theclinics.com/article/S0278-5919(23)00068-6/fulltext