Research Reviews

Barbara L. Fredrickson The Big Idea Until approximately the beginning of the 21st Century, the field of psychology gave little attention to theories, hypotheses, or building models of the form and function of positive emotions (such as joy, interest, contentment, and love). Instead, most all the previous emotion studies have focused on negative emotions (such as fear, anger, or disgust). The big idea of this paper is that there are inherent differences between negative and positive emotions. Because of these differences, there is little sense in…

Manual Santos and Kevin Morgan The Big Idea In 1974 Studs Terkel, the American broadcaster, actor, and oral historian, published the best-selling non-fiction book, Working. In it he interviewed a cross-section of Americans about their working lives, “about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.”  In one interview, Terkel interviewed jazz tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman.  Freeman got to talking about how hard the work of improvisation is, the working out of all the possibilities of a theme, and the on-going promise of…

Matthias Kempe & Daniel Memmert The Big Idea How about we introduce the big idea of this research study with a non-linear and entirely random historical observation?  How about we throw in an outrageous claim that the idea of this paper was in the winds long, long ago back in ancient Rome; back to the Emperor of Rome from 121 to 180; back to Marcus Aurelius; back to his Meditations; back to Book 12; back to the opening paragraph; and finally, back to this quote:…

Context Matters: Revisiting the First Step of the “Sequence of Prevention” of Sports Injuries Caroline Bolling, Willem van Michelen, H. Roeline Pasman, Evert Verhagen The Big Idea This research literature review paper was published in the journal Sports Medicine in 2018.  The problem these researchers are concerned with is sports injury prevention.  A little more than 25 years ago a seminal paper was published proposing a sequential, stepped approach to injury prevention.  Over the years this linear approach has been used, abused, tinkered with, and…

Natalia Balague, Rafel Pol, Carlota Torrents, Angel Ric, and Robert Hristovski The Big Idea This is an opinion paper.  The opinions herein revolve around how the components of complex systems self-organize.  In particular, the authors propose a more streamlined approach to what is called the constraints-led approach to understanding restrictions to the degrees of freedom in complex systems.  The uptick in the popularity of the study of constraints as a unifying framework is proving to be useful in understanding the learning/training process in the complex…

Jack Martin and David Cox The Big Idea It is rare in conventional social psychological research on sport to consider public testimony as a source of truths.  And yet, this is exactly what this study does.  These authors pursue what they call a “portrait of possibility.”  The subject—the only subject—is the early life of one heck of a basketball player: the Canadian Steve Nash (b. 1974) who played 18 years in the NBA (National Basketball Association), nearly half of those years an NBA All-Star and…

Moran, R. Blagrove, B. Drury, J. Fernandes, K Paxton, H. Chaabene, R. Ramirez-Campillo The Big Idea Every day the lonely man reads the matrimonial advertising pages, hoping to meet the girl of his dreams.  Not much luck until one day this ad appeared: “If you dream of the girl for you/Then call us and get two for the price of one/We’re the answer if you feel blue/So call us and get two for the price of one.”  The reader might recall these partial lyrics from…

P. Potrac, R.L. Jones, D Gilbourne and L. Nelson. The Big Idea Let’s approach this research paper indirectly. For it concerns a hard truth in the profession of football coaching, the culture of it. Let’s introduce the problem by way of fiction first – even though there is nothing fictive in the comparison. Louise Penny is an award-winning Canadian writer. Her novels feature Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete de Quebec. Early on in one of Penny’s books, Inspector Isabelle Lacoste reflected on how…

Sara Santos, Sergio Jiménez, Jaime Sampaio, Nuno Leite The Big Idea When you sit a spell and think over the major point of session planning in sports, you can’t avoid the big idea of transformation. Hence, such training programs are inherently designed around re-creation and hope. Faith in unknown possibilities is something like the observation of the American inventor, philosopher, and architect Buckminster Fuller (1895-1993) that, “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” If players and coaches…

Ase Strandbu, Kari Stefansen, Ingrid Smette, and Morten Rensio Sandvik The Big Idea “Involved parenthood” in organized youth sports is what these Norwegian researchers are attempting to better understand.  Child-centered parenting they note—using the United States as an example—is still evolving since its early cultural development in the 1960s.  Organized youth sport in those days was in its infancy, preceding the appearance of involved parents.  On a personal note, this reviewer—who is from the U.S.—recalls his early childhood sporting days in the 1960s, and happily…

 J. Bartholomew, N. Ntoumanis, and C. Ntoumanis The Big Idea Let’s begin this research review with an illustration.  In sports, there is a difference between players who are merely involved and players who are fully committed.  (You will have to play along here.)  There is an old American illustration pointing out this difference, the difference between being involved and being committed.  Think of a ham and eggs breakfast.  You will notice a real difference between the contributions of the two barn animals.  The chicken is…

Balague, C. Torrents, R. Hristovski, K. Davids, and D. Araujo The Big Idea Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) was a legendary Canadian poet, singer-songwriter, and novelist.  The following lyrics are from his 1992 album The Future and the song “Anthem”: Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in. Let’s assume there is a crack in our conventional understanding of practicing, training for, and playing competitive sports.  Not a break.  Just…

Paul S. Glazier The Big Idea It’s GUT check time!  We are all familiar with this cliché in sports performance:  tests of gameness, courage, fortitude, stick-to-itiveness.   But less familiar is another meaning of GUT.  Beginning roughly in the late 1970s particle physicists began looking at the possibilities for the otherwise distinct three of the four forces in nature at high energy to merge into an indistinct single force.  They called this model a Grand Unified Theory, or GUT for short. Over the years, this general…

Christina Salmivalli The Big Idea This review paper was published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior.  Its subject is bullying.  While its context is the classroom, what is reported in the research entails the fields of play as well.  If there is an umbrella quote covering the inherent nastiness of bullying, it would be this, Maya Angelou’s reflection: “I’ve learned that people forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What amplifies…

Blandine Bril The Big Idea In shorthand, this paper is both WEIRD and weird.  In longhand, it is about the impact of cultural constraints on motor habits.  In a sentence: It is weird that the scientific community regularly assumes that Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) peoples are solely representative of humankind. This paper by Blandine Bril was published in Kinesiology Review in 2018.  Bril’s question is a simple one:  Are there “motor styles” common to members of a given cultural group?  Her answer…

Ludvig J. T. Rasmussen, Lars D. Ostergaard, and Vlad Glaveanu The Big Idea Few sport coaches would deny player creativity as an essential component of a winning game performance.  Nor would they deny that facilitating in-game creativity is typically a significant component of practice sessions.  In other words, when creativity is valued it is understood to be an end to be achieved; and it is measured by serendipitous or improvisational performance. But in this research paper published in the journal, Sport, Education and Society (2017),…

C. Ryan Dunn, Travis Dorsch, Michael Q. King, and Kevin Rothlisberger The Big Idea The estimates in the United States vary. But anywhere between 24 and 44 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 participate in organized youth sports. The measurement discrepancy is due to the wide-ranging framing of the demographics, geographies, and organizational structures. Let’s just say there is a glut of kids at play in the U.S. today, organizationally speaking. On the one hand, there is good reason for this popular…

The Big Idea A good example of Yiddish wit is the old parable, “Man plans, God laughs.”  By now this adage has not only achieved bumper sticker status, but the American hip hop group Public Enemy used it as the title of their 13th studio album (released July 16, 2015).  For our purposes then, it isn’t a stretch to connect this bit of wisdom to the world of sports.  After all, planning is at the root of most all preparation and performance in sport.  Is…