Evidence suggests that athlete adherence to structured fitness and psychological skills training programmes is low (e.g., Bull, 1995a; Palmer, Burwitz & Smith, 1998). This research project responds to requests for a greater understanding of the adherence process within sporting populations (e.g., Daw & Burton, 1994).
An interpretive framework enabled a detailed investigation of the England Women's Cricket Team's (1996-1997) fitness training and psychological skill behaviours. An eclectic approach of interpretivist methods was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the players' training adherence perspectives. This included a period of direct experience, the review of documentary evidence and interviews with the players and sport science support staff. An approach based on Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was used to gather pertinent adherence issues.
This research project has fulfilled four dominant aims. First, through critical discussion of the interpretive framework and methods employed, this research project has continued, and actively contributes to, the philosophy of science and research method debate currently developing within sport psychology. Second, through a commitment to the cricketer's perspective, this project has promoted an understanding of the player's sport science experience and her consequential fitness and psychological skill training behaviours. This includes a better understanding of the process of training programme adoption and adherence, and the complex array of determinants that led to player fitness and psychological skill training behaviours. Two themes were dominant. First, the player's present and historical interaction with the non-cricket-related socio-cultural environment highlighted determinants relating to her personal training needs awareness, perceived training benefits and training experiences. Second, the player's interpretation of the cricket-related socio-cultural environment provided understanding of a host of training determinants related to her team-mates, the sport science support programme's delivery and the sport's governing body. These understandings have been combined within a population-specific conceptual framework of the training adherence process. Finally, theoretical interpretation of the players' experiences is used to promote reflection and debate within the sport science profession, and to propose fundamental changes to the approach and support of the athlete. This includes the recommendation of a three-tier approach to the development of sport science delivery and the adoption of critical subjective-based research frameworks, with the primary purpose of promoting the need for player empowerment.
|Date of Award||Jul 2002|