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Disapointing from a professional coach's perspective
on 2 August 2012
Currently working in professional rugby union as a coach, with a strong sport science background, and massive appreciation for 'applied performance psychology', rather than clinical psychology, I was looking forward to reading this book. However I was deeply disapointed by the content and overall read of the book for the reasons below:
- Although the author does well to state the issues with clinical psychology and its disconnected relationship to the real world demands of professional sports club environments, I stll think a lot of what was discussed byt he author realisitcally in professional sport was not required as generaly these issues can be effectively dealt with and applied by high quality coaches. For example, meetings with players and using reflective practice to help a player move forward is a method used highly effectively by many high quality coaches and does not require the less experienced and clinical mind of a sport psychologist. The best coaches are outstanding psychologists, they can carry out and understand the fundamental thigns which are required to boost all elements of psyholocgy related to performance, and do so witihin the normal coach-athlete relationship,thus avoiding the somewhat mundane and often bizzare scenarios which are played out when a sport psychologist speaks to a player. Indeed, if coaches didnt need a sport psychologist then one might argue that such a role wouldnt exist and/or teams would not have issues with culture etc. My arguement would be that many coaches good and bad are just poorly educated on certain elements related to things such as maximising work ethic and just need to study the research and use their applied skills to deliver it. Furthermore, many clubs employ sport psychologists and never resolve, or in cases deepen issues they were originally bought into address.
- The book contained a lot of information which was either too strung out or not required. For example, most, if not all readers do not need an explanation regarding what the premier league is or its history.
- The constant reptition of the authors disagreement on what sport psychoogy really is and where it should go got irritating. A far point was made, however its constant appearance from no where in paragraphs throughout the book weared thin and was not required.
- The authors use of rather sensational, philosohpical phrases, sentances and quotes to explain things which could be explained far more simpily was mad. I got lost by what was being said on a number of occasions and given this is aimed at students and people who are unlikely to have a strong grasp of philosphy, was over kill. Selling itself as an applied psycholgoy book in professional football, I dont care about accient philosphy, I care about performance. Hence it was somewhat pot calling the kettle black as the author states sport psychology should always relate to performance, yet would often revert back to talking about confusing and grey philosophical statements. For example, the last sentance of the book highlights this, portrayed the author as trying to be a bit of a smart arse.
- The author made fair points and valid ones about the challenges of working in a professional sport environment, topics not usually covered in academic degree courses or in research papers. However one of the most disapointing things was the author did not go into any form of detail regarding the underpinnings of any fundamental psychological areas related to sport performance such as culture, mental toughness, cohesion and motivational climate. Covering this and then discussing applied ways to develop this #i.e. evidence based practice# would have been very interesting and valuable for the main type of reader this book was aimed at. For me the book suggests it will cover this and is a big attraction, yet fails compeltley on delivering it.
- There was an excessive use of the term 'the sport psychologist' which made the read very repetitive
- Finally, in reference to my first issue with the book, sport psyhcology from my own perspective, a professional coach who respects and is well read in this field, does not belong in the context the author outlines with their elaborate definitions. Psyhchology is simply a fundamental element of world class coaching. Understanding what underpins fundamental elements of psychology which relate to the sport performance environment and learning ways through your own experience as a coach to effectively and optimally deliver/improve these, is where the field of psychology in sport lies. The role of a sport psychologist should be to research the field in tbe context of the applied nature of performance sport, to help provide information to inform coaches of best practice. it is then the coaches who apply such findings to their own coaching philosphies and the environment, not a person who walks into a club and spends time their as a 'sport psychologist'.