Current Sport Psychology Projects and Grants

The UNT Center for Sport Psychology’s faculty and graduate students maintain active research programs. Areas of research by the Center’s staff include: physical and psychological health of adolescents; eating disorders and body image; psychological antecedents and consequences of athletic injury; influences of parents, peers, and coaches in youth sport; to name a few. Whether a prospective graduate student or an athlete or coach, we invite you to learn more about our ongoing research projects.

Pre-Retirement Planning in Collegiate Athletics
Researchers: Heather Kiefer & Trent A. Petrie
The purpose of this research is to see how athletic departments across all three NCAA divisions (DI, DII, DIII) prepare their athletes for retirement from sport. Specifically, we are seeking to understand if athletic departments have preretirement programs available for athletes. If athletic departments do have preretirement planning programs, we are seeking to understand the topics that are covered in their programming. If athletic departments do not have preretirement planning programs, we are seeking to understand if they have resources available on campus (i.e., outside of the athletic department) to help prepare their student-athletes for graduation and retirement from sport.

Mental Health Screening
Researchers: Tess M. Palmateer, M.Sc., Megan Drew, Trent A. Petrie, PhD.
The purpose of this study is to better understand how NCAA institutions are implementing mental health screening and how they are conducting follow-ups with athletes who are identified as “at-risk. More specifically, the present study seeks to understand: a) what is the process of identifying student athletes as “at-risk”? b) How are at-risk student-athletes followed-up with after being identified? c) What are some of the barriers NCAA institutions face specific to being able to conduct mental health screening? Athletic department administrators and/or sports medicine professionals who oversee mental health of student athletes will be solicited to participate in the study via email. The results from this study will help to better understand the strengths and growth areas of current mental health screening. Further, this study will be valuable for recognizing an ideal set of procedures for identifying and following up with at risk athletes and following up with. This information could be used to inform future guidelines regarding mental health screening.

Sexual Attraction and Boundary Crossing between Sport Psychology Consultants and Athlete Clients
Researchers: Tess M. Palmateer, M.Sc., & Trent A. Petrie, PhD.
Past research has demonstrated that sexual and non-sexual boundary crossing occurs in sport psychology (Moles, Petrie, Watkins, 2016), though the data from this study were collected over 15 years ago. Because the field has grown tremendously since that time in terms of the number of practitioners working with athletes and sport teams, an update as to current the current behaviours of SPCs is needed. Thus, the specific research questions to be addressed are: (a) What is the prevalence of SPCs’ sexual attraction to their athlete clients and to what extent do such attractions manifest in certain behaviours (e.g., kissing a client)? (b) To what extent do “nonsexual boundary crossings” occur? (c) What are SPCs’ beliefs and emotions regarding boundary crossing and sexual attraction with clients? (d) How willing are SPCs to seek supervision regarding their attraction to clients? (e) Are there any differences in boundary crossing related to training (e.g., psychology vs. sport science)? Individuals working professionally with athletes, coaches, sport teams, and/or sport organizations will be invited to complete the modified from the Survey of Applied Sport Psychologists (SASP; Moles et al., 2006). The data from this study will be used to submit posters at professional conferences and subsequently, the data will be used to write a manuscript to be submitted to an academic journal (e.g., Journal of Applied Sport Psychology) for publication. The results from this study will ideally help to understand boundaries and professional relationships and how to effectively manage sexual attraction to athlete-clients.

Bodies in Motion for Life: A Long-Term Qualitative Evaluation of an ED Prevention Program with Retired Female Athletes 
Researchers: Stephanie Barrett, M.S., Trent Petrie, Ph.D., Dana Voelker, Ph.D. 
The Bodies in Motion program is a cognitive dissonance and mindfulness-based eating disorder prevention program designed to address the unique needs of female athletes with regard to their body image, and relationships with food and exercise.  This 5-session workshop teaches female athletes to become aware of the societal and sport-specific pressures they face about their bodies, and learn skills (i.e., mindfulness, self-compassion) to help challenge these messages and relate to themselves in healthier and more functional ways. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively evaluate the effectiveness of the program with female athletes who have transitioned to sport retirement. Female athletes who have completed the program and retired from their collegiate sport careers will be asked to participate in a semi-structured interview to explore their current perceptions of their bodies as athletes and as women, as well as their relationships with food and exercise/fitness. Interview responses will be qualitatively analyzed using thematic analysis, and aggregate findings will be published to help extend current literature on body image and sport retirement among female athletes. 

College Student Athletes and Psychological Well-being in Retirement
Researchers: Karolina Wartalowicz, M.S., & Trent Petrie, Ph.D.
Retiring from sport can be a challenging and difficult time for college athletes (Smith & Hardin, 2018), and although many former student athletes (SAs) are doing well years after retirement, substantive numbers still struggle with different concerns (i.e. body image, depression, eating; e.g., Papathomas, Petrie, & Plateau, 2018) up to six years after retirement (Wartalowicz & Petrie, 2018). During the transition from competitive sport, athletes may experiences stress and anxiety, lowered levels of self worth, loss of social support, changes in mood, isolation, loneliness, disordered eating and even depression (Lally, 2007; Wylleman et al., 2004). The current study will investigate elite student athletes’ psychological health and well-being in the months immediately following retirement, which has been indicated as a critical time period (Stokowski, Paule-Koba, & Kaunert, 2019). Participants will consist of collegiate retiring athletes who are surveyed across three time points: the end of their competitive seasons (baseline), one month post (Time 1), and three months after collegiate careers have ended (Time 2). Separate two-way (gender – between subjects; time – within subjects) repeated measures ANOVAs will be run to examine how SAs’ psychological distress (i.e., BSI), body satisfaction, and satisfaction with life change over time and if such changes differ by gender. Furthermore, separate hierarchical regression models for each outcome will be run to examine the extent to which the significant BALANCE items predict their Time 1 and Time 2 scores by controlling for baselines scores of each outcome in the regression analysis. Results can inform the development of pre-retirement programming within athletic departments.

The Current Status of Sport Psychology in Counseling Psychology Training Programs
Researchers: J. Andy Walsh, M.S., M.A., Trent Petrie, Ph.D., others TBD
The purpose of the study is to replicate Petrie & Watkins (1994) and learn more about the involvement and interest in sport psychology that is held by both faculty and students in APA-accredited counseling psychology training doctoral programs by surveying the programs’ training directors. We are examining what types of opportunities are already in place for faculty and students in a variety of avenues (e.g., research, practicum experiences) and the openness that the training directors have in allowing faculty and students to pursue these interests if opportunities are not already in place.

Weight Environment and Weight Management Practice of Male Collegiate Athletes
Researchers: J. Andy Walsh, M.S., M.A., Trent A. Petrie, Ph.D., Karolina Wartalowicz, M.S., and Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, Ph.D.
The purpose of our study was to replicate Tackett et al. (2016) and examine the weight environment and weighing management practices in a sample of male collegiate athletes. Specifically, we examined frequency of weigh-ins, the manner in which athletes were weighed, strategies implemented to prepare for weigh-ins, what the athletes wanted to do about their weight, and sources of weight management and nutritional information

Disordered Eating in Male Athletes
Researchers: Kaleb Cusack, M.A., & Trent Petrie, PhD. 
Petrie and Greenleaf’s revised sociocultural model (2012) proposes that athletes experience general societal pressures for appearance alongside unique sport environment pressures regarding weight, body size/shape, eating and appearance that increases their risk of developing disordered eating (DE) attitudes and behaviors.  Such pressures are likely to vary by sport depending on its unique environment and performance demands. For example, female athletes who participate in “leanness-focused” sports experience more body dissatisfaction and societal appearance pressures compared to those in “nonleanness-focused” sports (Kong & Harris, 2015). Initial research with male athletes suggests pressures unique to the sport environment, such as pressure from teammates and coaches, uniforms, or bodyweight and appearance, can explain variance in multiple correlates of disordered eating after accounting for general sociocultural pressures (Galli et al, 2014). Because research with male athletes lags far behind that of female athletes, more is needed to better understand the potential effects of sport environments on disordered eating and body image concerns. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of sport type, which served as a proxy for pressures in the sport environment, to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors among male collegiate athletes. 

Collins, J. R., & Martin, S. B. (2015-2020). Development of leadership, sport, and health in girls attending high school and middle school. Girls in the Game (Fossil) $55,800.00 (FUNDED). High school students involved in the program also received college scholarships (to date > $15,000).