Enhancing performance in cricket by using South African cricket coaches’ experiences in an ecological intervention

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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

Sport psychology in South Africa has for many years been characterised by the deficit perspective on human nature focusing on “what is wrong with sports people”. Psychological Skills Training (PST) programmes have been used to correct these deficits until optimal performance can happen in the “absence of discomfort.” In this study, an asset perspective to performance enhancement was employed, i.e. the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach which views optimal performance as happening “despite discomfort”. Sport psychologists present these interventions (PST and MAC) predominantly to cricket players, often neglecting other important role-players such as coaches. The aim of this study was to move away from the deficit perspective and individualistic interventions to an asset perspective with an ecological intervention. This was attained by using South African cricket coaches’ experiences of the MAC programme in an experiential learning context. The extent to which experiential learning occurred was established through analyzing 18 individual in-depth, semi-structured interviews with coaches using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The major findings were that coaches experienced the MAC programme as flexible, accessible and a developmental psychological tool, which increased their knowledge of sport psychology. Coaches enjoyed the MAC programme and found the experiential learning and accompanying manual valuable.