Posts tagged FEPSAC
Posts tagged FEPSAC
Do you know who Ema Geron was? If you don’t, you are remiss. Ema Geron was the first president of the Fédération Européene de Psychologie des Sport et des Activitées Corporelles (FEPSAC) and her work with female gymnasts is considered the “dawn of the gender perspective in sport psychology” (p. 101; Tenenbaum, Lidor, & Bar-Eli, 2011). Do you know who Dorothy Harris was? If you don’t, you should. Dorothy Harris was the first female member of the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP), the first woman to receive a Fulbright Fellowship in sport psychology, and the first resident sport psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). These are the women who, along with the men you more than likely do know, built the world that you and I are privileged to work within.
Being a female has its upsides; for instance, no one questions my sanity or stability when I cry at the end of a good sports movie. However, there are adversities associated with being a female – particularly when my gender makes me part of the minority in my field. As the only female faculty member in a Sport and Exercise Psychology program, I am often asked to share my experiences and perspective with students. In fact, this past Spring I was asked by some of our doctoral students to lecture in a course for undergraduates and speak about Women in Sport and Exercise Psychology. One of my male colleagues jokingly responded “I wonder why they asked you to talk about that.” As he and I both chuckled, I wondered whether or not my experiences should be any different than the experiences of my colleagues — after all Nike was a goddess — but they are. When I was 5 years old, a boy on my K-league soccer team told me “I don’t have to listen to you, because you’re a girl”, I understood that I was different. When Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off in 1999, I understood the significance and importance of her actions. When the starter said “Lady and gentlemen start your engines” at the Indy 500 in 2005, I understood the implication and meaning of six words instead of four. I understood all of these events differently than most, what may have been funny to all of the parents on the sidelines or just another cover shot for Sports Illustrated or just another day at the races, was more relevant to me because I am a woman working in what some consider to be the “last male bastion”.
Brandi Chastain’s “Infamous” Moment
I know, I know…another woman ranting about inequality in sport. But just for a minute, let’s pretend that my rant has merit. Consider this…although most female athletes would have no problem working with a male sport psychology consultant, adversely, many male athletes I have encountered in my career would have an issue working with a female sport psychology consultant. Consider this…while it might take me 20 minutes to earn the rapport of a female soccer team, it may take me 20 or more practice sessions to earn the same rapport with a male soccer team. Consider this…I am more likely to get my male clients attention with the length of my skirt than the information coming out of my mouth. And consider this…when I enter a consultation with a men’s American football, baseball, or wrestling team, the athletes can question my credibility based on my lack of playing experience in sport I was never afforded the opportunity to participate in due to my gender.
Researchers in social psychology suggests that as a female, it is likely that I have a different moral orientation (Gilligan, 1982; Jaffee & Hyde, 2000), a different way of knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986), a different way of interacting with groups (Markus & Kitayama, 1991), different ideas about how to develop and maintain close relationships (Cross & Madson, 1997), a different way of communicating (Tannen, 1990), and a different self-construal (independent vs. interdependent; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Cross & Madson, 1997) than the majority of male athletes with whom I might work. Does that mean that I am less capable of relating to male athletes or that they are less likely to understand me?? Does that mean that I may be less sympathetic to their perspective or have difficulty truly appreciating their problems?? Does that make me less qualified to work with male athletes?? Maybe a better question is this…if the answer to the previous questions is “yes”, then why are the vast majority of female athletes across the world coached by men?? Men may be tired of hearing women rant about inequality in sport, but I assure you, we are just as tired of ranting.
Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., & Tarule, J. M. (1986). Women’s ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.
Cross, S., & Madson, L. (1997). Models of the self: Self-construals and gender. Psychological Bulletin, 122, 5-37.
Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Jaffee, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2000). Gender differences in moral orientation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 703-726.
Markus, H.R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224-253.
Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: William Morrow.
Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, R., & Bar-Eli, M. (2011). OBITUARY. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 9:2, 99-101
Vanessa R. Shannon is in her fourth year as an assistant professor in the Sport and Exercise Psychology program at West Virginia University. Her research areas include group dynamics, psychology of injury, career transition, and physical activity promotion. She has worked with athletes across the lifespan and all levels of competition (youth, high school, collegiate, masters-level adults, and professional) as a performance enhancement consultant for over 10 years.
Given the number of medals Russia achieves in international competitive arenas it becomes interesting what the contribution of sport psychology is to these achievements and what could be special about it in Russia. I was lucky enough to visit the International Sport Psychology conference in Moscow June 4-7th, and let me share with you some of my notes.
The conference itself has become an annual traditional event since it was first organized 8 years ago. It is devoted to the memory of the eminent Russian psychologist P. Rudik who stood at the beginning of sport psychology in Russia.
The conference was hosted in the cradle of Russian sport sciences – Russian State University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow. There were around 300 attendees, 117 speeches, and 3 round table sessions. In addition, the president of FEPSAC, Paul Wylleman, gave an online presentation followed by an assembly of the Russian Sport Psychology Association.
Moscow State University
Looking through the conference program the first thing that caught my attention was the great number of speakers who told us about peak performance of top athletes. Six sections among seven were devoted to performance enhancement of elite athletes, whereas only one section touched upon psychology of physical education and physical activity.
I would like to focus on a few noteworthy topics which I think may be of interest and could contribute to the development of sport psychology, and then I will outline the general opinion of sport psychology development in Russia.
Professor G. Lojkin from Ukraine presented results on working with coaches. He took an interesting approach: putting focus on a coach’s well-being he investigated destructive processes which could favor a tendency to adapt maladaptive strategy to guide followers. His conception reminds me of some theories from a leadership domain, but with slight emphasis on motivational climate which creates a sense of a coach’s satisfaction. In addition, he proposed some approaches to address coaches’ well-being and influence their behavior in a desirable way. However, to support his conception there is a clear need for additional studies.
The next speaker was Professor V. Malkin from Russia, who started his presentation by criticizing some approaches which were used by one of Russia’s most eminent applied sport psychologists, Rudolf Zagainov. I could assure you that search engines would not find either Zagainov’s biography nor any of his articles, but during his career Rudolf Zagainov worked with 38 world champions and 19 Olympic champions. He is a controversial and scandalous figure who simultaneously has huge applied experience. The critique was mostly related to pressure that this psychologist may have used to manipulate an athlete to guide him towards Olympic gold. On one hand, this is a great ethical issue which V. Malkin pointed out, while on the other hand, sport itself represents a unique environment where people may willingly allow others to manipulate their lives.
The speaker had recently published a book “Managing Psychology Training in Sport”. As he explained to me, this book is based on his 30 years of applied experience and deals with a conception of psychological readiness and how to manage this state during various stages of an athlete’s development. The only regret is that the book is available only in Russian.
One of the extraordinary topics which glued my attention was presented by N. Bogacheva, a PhD student from Moscow State University. In her presentation she explored psychological issues of cyber-sport athletes. This presentation stirred up huge debates and critics. Opponents argued that, firstly, cyber-sport is deemed not to be a sport at all, and secondly, because the majority of computer games promote violence, being involved in cyber-sport does not positively influence an individual’s development. What do you think?
Well, from one side, a growing number of participants in e-sport sparks a huge interest of media to the World Cyber Games, from the other side, there is a tension to accept e-sport as a sports activity (especially true for Russia) and investigate more deeply performance issues of cyber-athletes. I feel that this area really represents a gap in sport / performance psychology.
Instead of a poster presentation, which is very common for international conferences, there were three round table activities, which provided an opportunity for an exchange of views between experts in the field and various stakeholders.
At one round table participants discussed issues related to teaching sport psychology at universities. The questions which were raised were related to distance learning, developing competence criteria for a sport psychologist, and improving collaboration between universities which are involved in teaching students sport psychology.
How to gain respect and smoothly join a team for a sport psychologist was discussed during another round table. Professor V. Sopov shared his experience with freestyle skiers and concluded that if an athlete needs some assistance from a sport psychologist right before performing, this in turn could indicate that this sport psychologist had worked insufficiently with the particular athlete. In addition, A. Ter-Minosan, a sport psychologist who simultaneously works as a coach, shared his opinion on why coaches usually resist sport psychologists. According to him, coaches’ negative opinion about sport psychologists is based on the assumption that sport psychologists are not good at coaching and while they are distributing annoying questionnaires and reporting irrelevant information they bring only additional problems. On the contrary, for smooth integration into a team a sport psychologist must eliminate problems from the coach’s head - and the key to that is previous experience in coaching or at least a desire to understand the coach’s methods and philosophy.
Lastly, I have noticed some Russian sport psychologists attempting to create unique theories and / or applied practices. For example, Professor V. Sopov (Russian State University of Physical Culture and Sport) investigated the mechanism of beliefs. His conception is based on a specific linguistic technique mixed with mental simulation . This activates subconscious processes and increases beliefs in one’s ability. Another example is the research of A. Kolosov (Scientific Laboratory of Ukrainian Sport Teams). He presented a conception of a dependence phenomenon in coach-athlete collaboration and linked it to a mechanism of a power influence. Due to the uniqueness of these conceptions they currently stand alienated, and I feel that there is a clear need for supporting researches.
At the end of the conference there was an assembly of the Russian Sport Psychology Association. Given the number of Russians regions this association is constantly growing. The president of this association, Professor V. Sopov emphasized during his online conference with FEPSAC president Paul Wylleman that one of the aims of the Russian association is to increase collaboration with European colleagues and join FEPSAC. I hope this event will help identify the next steps towards future actions in the field of sport psychology and positively influence its development.
Dmytro Bondarev is currently doing the European Master’s in Sport and Exercise Psychology (EMSEP) at Lund University, Sweden. His current research area is in automatic processes in decision-making.
Here is a guest post from your sister program!
We have just spent two and a half weeks at the Intensive Course in Amsterdam. The Intensive course for the European Master sure is intensive! 22 lectures in 17 days is a lot to take in… but since the lectures were hosted by inspiring teachers like legendary Glyn Roberts (Oslo) and interesting new subjects were presented, like Christophe Gernigons (Montpellier) research about momentum in sport, it wasn’t hard to keep the energy up! Each student has his or her own favorite area, but I think that the passion each researcher showed for their area made each subject interesting. In addition to explaining some of the 32 theories about motivation Glyn took some time to tell us about his path during his career, as educator, researcher, applied sport psychologist and president of AASP, NASPSPA, IAAP and FEPSAC. That was very interesting for us rookies!
The mix of new findings from the researchers’ world and practical workshops was really good, since most of us didn’t have that much applied experience so far. Erwin Apitzsch (Lund), Reinhard Stelter (Copenhagen), Vana Hutter (Amsterdam) and Rico Schuijers (Amsterdam) shared some of their exercises with us. I especially liked the lecture Vana added this year to the IC about peer-counseling. We got the chance to try two different strategies how to do a peer-counseling session. The strategies were called “Incident method” and “Gossip method”. I found them very useful and will sure use them with my colleges back home.
In addition to the great new academically knowledge that we have added to our tool box, we also had the opportunity to get to know each other - colleagues from all over the world. I believe that we all made friendships that will last for a very long time! We are 21 students from twelve different countries, so we all had many interesting discussions about sports, psychology, the working situation in our own countries and well… almost everything
During our spare time we went to visit Ajax’s facilities, the Olympic Stadium from 1928, had applied workshops, movie nights and of course enjoyed the life of Amsterdam!
I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all had a really good time and got an experience for life! It sure was intensive and a lot of hard work, but I would really recommend this course! I’m happy I got the chance!
Emelie Lindström is currently studying for her European Master in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Halmstad University (Sweden) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain). Emelie is working half time for the Swedish Sailing Federation and has her own company called Sportsmind Sweden, doing applied sport psychology. Her main interests are team development and mental skills training for young athletes.