Contributor profile – Katherine Sparks
I am an aspiring Sport Psychologist, lover of all things rowing-related, passionate writer and current PhD Sport psychology student working to bridge the gap between academia and practice. I hope to create a no-nonsense platform for coaches and rowers, where the research jargon has been removed and the need-to-know information in regards to sport psychology is clearly presented with its application to performance visibly demonstrated.
I have rowed for 5 years, consisting of university and club level, as well as captaining at each level. I have always had a passion for sport, with competitively playing football and boxing before my rowing venture began in the first year of university. Although rowing is very different to my previous sports, it turned out to be a sound fit; it needed the stamina, determination and psychological resilience of boxing but also the team playing of football. Three years into my university education I was given the opportunity to continue my academia and partake a Masters and PhD in Sport Psychology focusing on a research area of my choice.
With my passion for rowing growing, it was an easy choice. Now in my first year of my PhD I am investigating the mind-sets, psychological attributes and characteristics of rowers, to understand what psychological factors result in rowers thriving or sub-optimally performing under pressure. Ultimately I would like to develop a psychological intervention that incorporates mindfulness to improve all rowers’ psychology under pressure. Mindfulness is a popular topic in sport psychology at present, which has proven to aid individual’s mental health and promote positive psychology. However, mindfulness in sport is fairly new and therefore one that I would like to investigate further. Research has found it may have performance benefits but I am also interested in how it can improve a rower’s mental health.
I have found that mindfulness aids performance and prevents negative thoughts such as ones related to anxiety in competition. Therefore for one of my final PhD studies I would like to develop a psychological intervention that is specific to rowers and incorporates mindfulness. I am currently looking to discuss and brainstorm with coaches and athletes to aid me in developing this intervention. Additionally as always, I am looking for willing participants to take part in this study in the future. If you would like some more information or to organise a call/skype then please contact me on KVS414@student.bham.ac.uk