Sport Psychology Study And Its Scientific Merit

Sport Psychology Study and its own Scientific Merit Report (Assessment)


This paper analyzes the scientific merit of a study study in neuro-scientific sport psychology. Antonini Philippe, Rochat, Vauthier, and Hauw (2016) give a qualitative investigation of runners’ experience grounded on the stories of withdrawals during an ultra-trail running race. The paper aims to judge the contribution of the analysis to advance the scientific knowledge foot of the identified field of research and also the improvement of research theory and the field of study all together. Also, it will assess the usage of the scientific ways of enquiry by researchers, determine the validity and reliability of research in mind, and estimate the strategies that the authors used to handle ethical concerns in the analysis.

Evaluation of Advancing the Scientific Knowledge Base

The study involved increases the scientific knowledge base in neuro-scientific sport psychology. Overall, the results of the research give a better knowledge of the organization’s peculiarities of runners throughout a race. It could be figured this study collects and refines information from previous studies focused on endurance events (Holt, Lee, Kim, & Klein, 2014; Johnson, Kenttä, Ivarsson, Alvmyren, & Karlsson, 2015; Lahart et al., 2013). The analysis discovered six representative sequences that explain your choice of racers to withdraw from the race. These sequences include “feeling pain, putting meaning to those feelings; adjusting running style; wanting to overcome the issue; other runners’ influences; and assessing the problem” (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016, p. 368). They suggest a fresh knowledge of the withdrawal mechanism.

In fact, the analysis findings correspond to the original expectations of the study team and support previous research results concerning the segmented courses of action and their general organization to attain sports performance purposes. For instance, Mohamed, Favrod, Antonini Philippe, and Hauw (2015) investigated the situated management of safety during risky sport in line with the connection with skydivers. Their findings suggested that withdrawal was probably the most frequent result of a big change in the individual’s perceptions of different situations through the trail race because of personal experience that has been obtained because of participation in sports. Nevertheless, this research adds two new properties which are meaningful for the problem of ultramarathon investigation. These properties cope with ordering and linkages of the sequences that constituted the experiences of the withdrawals in the analysis under question: progression and accumulation (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016). Talking about progression in the knowledge of runners, it included a succession of sequences that influenced the athlete and, predicated on their previous experiences, to making the decision to withdraw the race, which seemed the only real proper option at that time. The problem emerges through the first two sequences, which will be the feeling of pain and attempts to grasp it. This finding means that an experienced athlete knows the problem right from the start and tries to comprehend it and reveal the reason why for it.

The next two representative sequences imply adjustment. The researchers revealed alterations in the design of running demonstrated by athletes in addition to race management factors, including rest stops and treatment. The changes be determined by the athlete’s perceptions of the problem. The problem of perceptions was investigated by Johnson et al. (2015). Their study discovered that perceptions are meaningful for experiences of races, which, since it is proved in today’s study, impact on withdrawal decisions. Nevertheless, the efforts didn’t result in the issue resolution and resulted in essential for the seek out support in the surroundings of the racers, making the fifth representative sequence. Finally, the sixth representative sequence implies the analysis of the problem. While an athlete might still hesitate, this stage may be the nearest to withdrawal decision. Following the six sequences, as Antonini Philippe et al. (2016) claim, comes the seventh, that is the withdrawal itself. Consequently, the analysis under analysis results within an algorithm of withdrawal decision-making, thus adding to the scientific knowledge base.

The analysis findings are linked to other studies focused on similar problems. For instance, the psychological facet of ultramarathon runners’ behavior was studied by Simpson, Young, and Jensen (2014), nonetheless it was more centered on the problem of surpassing oneself, that is typical of ultra-marathon runners. Similar research implying the participants’ in-race experience was focused on the problem of psychological mechanisms of withdrawal through the race (Holt et al., 2014). In addition, it used interviews and race summaries to get data.

Evaluation of Contribution to analyze Theory and the Field of Study

The analysis has both practical and theoretical value. Talking about its contribution to analyze theory and the field of study, the next conclusions could be made. To begin with, today’s study revealed the actual fact of the existence of qualitative indicators linked to the construction of race and very important to the race participants. Within their turn, those indicators determined certain features, characteristics, or stories for withdrawal. The researchers suggest describing them as “a progressive, cumulative process associating diverse bodily, behavioral, cognitive, and social experiences” (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016, p. 370). This means that the behavior of runners through the race and their decision to withdraw is prompted by way of a complex of factors that frequently usually do not be determined by the runner.

Another significant contribution of the analysis to research theory may be the development of the theoretical framework grounded on the enactive method of human activity (McGann, De Jaegher, & Di Paolo, 2013). This framework does apply to the sports context and demonstrates the impact of the perceived experience through the succession of sequences on the consequence of the experience. Therefore, if the steps that result in a particular result (withdrawal in the event of the existing study) are predictable and repeated, they may be useful for developing preventive strategies, thus assisting to reduce withdrawal rate during ultra-trail running races or other athletics that demand significant efforts and endurance from its participants. Consequently, the analysis will not only prove the hypothesis that withdrawal from the race is because a complex process that implies a couple of steps, but suggests the possible applications of the knowledge.

Also, the analysis provides implications for further investigations. To improve the study theory and donate to the field of study, the authors suggest conducting future research to research how athletes manage their thoughts concerning the possibility of withdrawal prior to the race, thus allowing a deeper psychological insight and suggesting opportunities for counseling for runners to lessen withdrawal rate. Moreover, this investigation could possibly be potentially ideal for athletes and offer them with suggestions about race and thus decrease the negative influence on the athletes’ performance, for instance, through effective coping strategies.

Present research provided a theoretical basis for other studies in sport psychology and the related aspects. Thus, some members of the study team continued their focus on the problem of withdrawals and its own reliance on race topography (Antonini Philippe, Rochat, Crettaz von Roten, & Hauw, 2017). Also, it prompted a comparative study involving vitality states of race finishers and withdrawers in trail racing (Rochat, Hauw, Antonini Philippe, Crettaz von Roten, & Seifert, 2017). Hauw et al. (2016) also attemptedto investigate different methods to the analysis of ultra-trail runners’ performance and used the concepts revealed by the existing study. As a continuation of the sequence that implied seek out support, Rochat, Hauw, Gür, and Seifert (2018) initiated a study aiming to understand the experience of trail runners on online forums.

Through the previous two years, there have been some studies conducted by other researchers that included this research data as part of their literature reviews or theoretical sections. Thus, Vors, Marqueste, and Mascret (2018) investigate the Trier Social Stress Test applying the technique similar to which used by Antonini Philippe et al. (2016). Roebuck et al. (2018) are the present study within their systematic overview of literature on the psychology of ultra-marathon runners. Finally, Hauw and Bilard (2017) involve the enactive approach suggested by Antonini Philippe et al. (2016) within their study, which is an effort to comprehend drug use among athletes to improve their appearance. Therefore, it could be concluded that the analysis under analysis contributes both to analyze theory and the field of study, providing both theoretical grounds and practical tools for future research.

Application of Scientific Ways of Enquiry

The decision of method in a qualitative study demands considerable preparation and planning. Ways of enquiry ought to be selected to answer the study questions and prove or disapprove the hypothesis, thus following purpose of the analysis. Research under analysis is really a phenomenological study that aims to “understand an event from the participants’ viewpoint” (Leeds & Ormrod, 2013, p. 150). It targets a phenomenon of withdrawals during an ultra-trail running race and uses the experiences of participants as research data. It usually employs in-depth, unstructured interviews conducted among 5-25 individuals.

Sampling was organized on the list of participants of the three Grand Raid de la Réunion races on Reunion Island in 2014. Thus, this is a purposeful selection that is essential for phenomenological study because research participants were
selected within a definite cohort of runners. The sample included 8 male and 2 female athletes who volunteered to take part in the research. Sampling was conducted properly with consideration of the research design. The sample size is appropriate to the design as well because phenomenological studies usually involve from five to 25 participants. Ethical issues such as signing the informed consent and getting acquainted with the research peculiarities were also provided.

The study by Antonini Philippe et al. (2016) uses prompted self-confrontation interviews to collect data for research. It is the most frequent method of data collection in phenomenological studies. In addition to interviews, traces of past activity of racers were collected to provide an in-depth understanding of their experiences. Self-confrontation interviews were recorded and transcribed to simplify the process of data extraction. The interviews allowed collecting information about the activity of athletes during the race. Prompts were used to guide respondents and stimulate them to share the experiences that could contribute to the current study. There were three forms of prompts, such as involvement, representamens, and interpretants (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016).

In the context of the selected methods and the study design, the existing limitations should be mentioned. First of all, a retrospective design applied in research involves some problems. Thus, there is a risk of confusion both on the part of a respondent and a researcher. The participants may misinterpret some events, change the order of events, mix up reasons and consequences, etc. Nevertheless, this risk was addressed due to the use of a race map that was expected to help athletes restore the events during the race and analyze the reasons that led to withdrawal with the support of the race map. Another possible limitation can be related to the absence of the control group. Consequently, researchers did not use an opportunity to compare the answers of withdrawn runners and those who finished the race.

Evaluation of Validity and Reliability of the Research Study

The validity of the study comprises both internal and external aspects. According to Leedy and Ormrod (2013), internal validity is “the extent to which its design and the data it yields to allow the researcher to draw accurate conclusions about cause-and-effect and other relationships within the data” (p. 101). Therefore, researchers should take measures to ensure the validity and reliability of data and methods they use for research. In the study under analysis, Antonini Philippe et al. (2016) applied the following measures to ensure data reliability and contribute to research validity. First of all, the group of researchers involved in the study consisted of professionals with experience in conducting qualitative research on the whole and with the application of experience approach in particular. This fact also helped to save time for data analysis because researchers were using familiar instruments and methods.

Secondly, data collection was executed by researchers with experience of investigations in sport sciences and psychology. Moreover, the research supervisor is an experienced professional in the course of action methodology. Before data collection, the researchers were practically trained to be prepared for the peculiarities of data collection for this study and specific procedure of coding process. Thirdly, data coding was provided independently by every researcher. Assessment of coding reliability was conducted with the use of Bellack’s agreement rate (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016). To avoid possible researchers’ bias during the coding process, the coders compared their decisions about representative sequences and excluded those in which all three researchers disagreed. In case two of them agreed, collective re-examination of data was provided to achieve agreement. Only sequences and structures accepted by all the coders were included in the analysis. This approach allowed providing reliability and validity of the research study.

To achieve external validity of the study, which is the applicability of research findings to “situations beyond the study itself,” the team provided research in a real-life setting (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013, p. 103). This strategy enhances the external validity of research thus making it findings more applicable to diverse real-world contexts. Therefore, it has more benefit than a laboratory experiment conducted in artificial settings. Still, since the study under analysis follows a qualitative design, it employs some strategies typical of this research type. Thus, the researchers spent extensive time in the field of study, which make them experts in the researched phenomenon and allows revealing undiscovered aspects and gather the necessary evidence to support the research project and provide theoretical grounds for the hypothesis. The members of the research team were involved in investigations of diverse aspects related to sport psychology such as athletes’ cognition analysis, analysis of performance, problem in competition, etc. Moreover, a thorough literature review was conducted before the study. Also, the strategy of thick description is applied (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). The researchers provide much detail including citations from the interviews thus allowing readers draw their own conclusions based on the research data.

Assessment of Strategies for Addressing Ethical Concerns

Ethical issues are inevitable in the majority of disciplines that involve humans such as social sciences, medicine, education, psychology, and similar areas of study (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). Therefore, researchers need to address ethical concerns related to the study. Leedy and Ormrod (2013) single out four categories of research ethical issues, which include “protection from harm, voluntary and informed participation, right to privacy, and honesty with professional colleagues” (p. 104). The first category is not related to the study under analysis because the selected method of a prompted interview does not imply any physical or mental harm to the respondents. Consequently, no specific strategies are necessary. The issue of voluntary and informed participation is integral to this research. The participants were informed at first contact about the purpose of the study which was to observe how their races had unfolded (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016). Moreover, they were told about the voluntary character of their participation.

All the participants who volunteered to join research received an explanation of the study procedures and provided their written informed consent. The right to privacy was realized through anonymity of data and analysis during the investigation. The researchers cite the materials they use throughout the study thus addressing the ethical concern of honesty to their colleagues. On the whole, the research protocol was prepared before the study and was approved by the Faculty of Social Science of the University of Lausanne research ethics committee and corresponded the concepts of the Declaration of Helsinki (Antonini Philippe et al., 2016). Consequently, there were no violations of ethical policies and codes of behavior.


On the whole, the study under consideration provides a valuable contribution to sport psychology as a whole and the issue of withdrawal during ultra-races in particular. In addition to a meaningful contribution to scientific knowledge base and research theory, it suggests practical applications. First of all, the research findings can be helpful for the runners themselves allowing them to learn the techniques of feelings’ interpretation and management. It is expected to allow racers adapt to these feelings and reduce their negative impact on withdrawal decision. Secondly, these data can be applied by sport psychologists to develop coping strategies and thus help to improve the performance of participants. Still, the major role of the study is its contribution to theoretical grounds of research in the field of sport psychology. The research project applies appropriate methods of enquiry and strategies that guarantee validity and reliability of the research. Also, the researchers involve strategies for assessing ethical concerns, which also adds to the research’s validity and reliability. Thus, the study has all the components necessary for research and the strategies the authors apply correspond the selected methods and research deign.


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