When I heard about this book I was a little sceptical – who wants to learn from emerging practitioners when there are so many established ones to learn from? But my cynicism was misplaced because there are some really great things to learn from this book and the practitioners within it. My copy is now full of notes and highlighting and I’ve pulled out three new interventions / techniques I plan to incorporate into my practice.

This book is split into two sections: Case Studies and Reflections. This mirrors the approach that the training programme for Sport and Exercise Psychologists use so feels like it works well. It is then held together with commentary from the Editors; Erin Prior and Tim Holder.

There is always a risk in an edited book that the range of authors means that the book jumps and leaps about between chapters and it becomes hard to maintain flow. With only a few exceptions though this actually works really well with most chapters coming together well while still showing the authors personalities peeping through.

A couple of chapters felt like they were written too early in the practitioner’s journey before they have had sufficient time to really gage their reflections or be able to see their journey in the wider perspective. I would be curious to see their reflections 5 years down the line. Additionally, there was a strong pandemic vibe as so many of sessions relating to the case studies took place during the pandemic and the trainees reflecting on their journey’s were clearly impacted by it. This is clearly unavoidable but I wonder what this book would look like a few years down the line?

I was really nicely surprised by how much up to date, recent work was cited on applied practitioner work. I really struggled doing my training to find relevant and interesting journal articles and books to help guide my reflections but it seems this is swiftly changing for today’s trainees – and this is excellent to see. I also really liked the international feel to it with not just UK based practitioners but those working in Canada, Israel and Australia too.

Slight caveat – Tim Holder was my supervisor when I trained and continues to be a valuable source of advice and guidance as I now move into my own supervisory role with trainees. But he knows I’d be honest (too brutally honest he would say!) so there is no mincing here to be kind. It is genuinely an incredibly helpful book for those on MSc Sport and Exercise Psych programmes and on any of the three stage 2 training pathways.

I’ve highlighted something from each chapter that I found valuable and you may too:

Fionnuala Barnes – Finding your Voice: I loved the focus in this chapter on Belonging and relationships, especially the point that there will usually be a degree of messiness in our interactions. This can feel uncomfortable – but it is inevitable.

Anna Abraham – Playing with Heart: Here Anna discussed how Sport Psychology is a difficult career path so you have to be incredibly proactive to find your own route – but she found if you push hard the benefits of designing your own world and career path are huge. It also felt as if she adopted many of the techniques she teaches her athletes within her own approach to her career which was great to see.

Beth Yeoman – Parental Involvement: This chapter would be excellent for trainees to see an example of a case formulation and how this is used to create session structures and plans.

Betsy Tuffrey – REBT: A really great explanation and examples of how to use REBT.

Harley de Vos – Outside the Arena: This focused on how to adapt your sport psych techniques and approaches to working with high performers in other sectors. I loved how he reminds us that psychology is mainly about relationships so the context for sport psychologists doesn’t need to be limited to sport. Harley’s approach is the most similar to mine in this book and I really loved the pre-work he sets clients of a reflective performance appraisal – I may well ‘borrow’ this idea.

Bernadette Ramaker & Ismael Pedraza-Ramirez – Esports: This gives a really clear idea to those not yet working in Esports how to begin the process and develop skills within this world.

Guy Matzkin – Coaching Performance Excellence: Reflections from someone working in a dual role as the Performance Coach and the Performance Psychologist. I enjoyed the reflections on all of the non-clinic settings that really helped build rapport.

Charlotte Hinchcliffe – Pursuing a Dual Career. Charlotte’s main reflections on what you need to take into account when doing your PhD alongside Stage 2 training are actually helpful lessons for all of us whether working in 1 or many roles: Make sure you enjoy what you are doing, build a good support network around you and truly aim to understand the demands of what you are doing so you go in with open eyes.

Steven Vaughan – Living the 100-Year Life: I struggled more with this chapter as it was from a practitioner who (like me) has switched into Sport Psychology later in life after a first career but it felt like some of the context was missing. The discussion on authenticity, your why and values were really interesting but it would have been great to hear more about the background from which these thoughts had sprung.

Karla Drew – The journey from Elite Athlete to Sport psychologist: This chapter offered excellent reflections from someone moving from elite athlete status into the sport psychologist role. I especially loved the deep debate on self-disclosure – and I think this chapter will be essential reading for any trainees reflecting on self-disclosure in their stage 2 submissions.

Megan Gossfield – Personalising a Style: In this chapter I loved Megan’s honesty about when things go wrong and her summary that “Some lessons are hard to learn, but they also lead to our biggest improvements.”

Alban Dickson – The world is your oyster: This chapter should be read by MSc students wondering if they have the business drive and energy to get into applied practice as it clearly outlines all of the logistical elements that need to be taken into consideration. I really liked his four questions for deciding whether to take on an ‘opportunity’ and find filters like this essential when we are trying to start something new.

Clara Swedlund – Embedding Exercise Psychology in the Fitness World: Clara’s work here is essential as Exercise Psychology is desperately needed – but no-one seems prepared to pay for it so there are currently very few practitioners working in this area. Clara shows others who might want to follow in her footsteps one way to approach it.

Erin Prior – What Dreams are made of: Erin’s chapter discusses her working away at an international event. One of the points she raises is essential for all of us at whatever stage we are: When we are away we are not just a practitioner, but also a performer and how do we navigate that?

Joseph Dixon & Jennifer Hobson – The things your training didn’t teach you: This chapter was written as a conversation considering how to have those difficult conversations that you need to have as a Sport Psych practitioner. The style made for interesting reading but did make it harder to pull out ideas or actions to take away for your own practice.

Overall, it will be an incredibly helpful reference book for trainees; not just to actively learn from but also to help shape their own case studies and reflections and use as an essential piece of literature in that process as they go through their stage 2 submissions. The book is published by Routledge: Navigating Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology: Reflections and Insi (routledge.com)