Edited by Andy Borrie, Charlotte Chandler, Andy Hooton, Andy Miles and Paula Watson

One of my biggest bugbears in Sport and Exercise psychology is the disconnect between researchers, those teaching sport psychology and practitioners. I don’t know how we work better together but we absolutely need to because there can sometimes feel like a huge gap between what is assumed in academia and what actually happens on the ground with practitioners. I have lost count of the number of surveys and interviews I’ve tried to complete that just don’t get the reality.

There was a trend a few years ago to be seen as a ‘Pracademic’ doing both but that seems to have dropped off and I don’t see many managing to balance well across both academia and practitioner. Probably for a good reason – they both require very different skills.

So, all this is to say I was rather sceptical whether an academic text would be a helpful book for applied practitioners. The answer is – somewhat.

There are some overly academic chapters. There are some chapters that just do not reflect the reality of how I see sporting experts working in reality. There were some that were incorrect (talking only about 1/3 training routes suggesting a strong, misdirected bias towards certain organisations) or mentioning outdated processes like Myers-Briggs which removed some credibility.

However, there are also some excellent chapters that I will absolutely be recommending to those trainees I supervise and would totally recommend for anyone trying to make their way into a professional sporting or exercise practitioner career.

The excellent chapters I will absolutely recommend…

Chapter 4: Professional Ethics: Navigating the challenging moments. This was a really easy and compelling read, made really interesting through the use of case studies, considerations and decision making frameworks.

Chapter 7 – Getting to know your client: The importance of ‘really listening.’ This is my favourite chapter. Beautifully written by three brilliant psychologists I massively respect. It is a must-read chapter for trainees with lots of case studies, the use of a great motivational theory for motivating your clients and advice on formulation.

Chapter 9 – Reflective practice: The core of professional and personal learning. Another excellent chapter and will be really useful for trainee practitioners who need to complete reflections as part of their qualification process. It offers different approaches, different methods and some tools. I loved that it showed that the reflective process is so individual and there is no ‘correct’ way to do it – just that it is essential you do.

Chapter 10 – Relentless, emotional and amazing: Working in high-performance sport. I enjoyed the pillars that arose in this chapter as to what will help you succeed working in high performance sport.

Chapter 11 – A challenging but rewarding path; Working with disability populations. This is essential reading for anyone who will be working with athletes or exercisers with disabilities, and actually a lot of the considerations the authors suggest would be valuable with every client. This chapter specifically highlights some of the expectations of working with disability athletes and then the realities which I found helpful for reflecting on my own assumptions.

Chapter 14 – It isn’t all child’s play: Working with children and young people. I feel this subject needs a book to itself. The personal reflections included felt too personal to be brilliantly valuable but the ‘bringing it together’ section covering 6 Cs (Connect, Communicate, Consider, Commit, Challenge, Creativity) which it helpful for trainees to consider.

Chapter 16 – Looking across the lines: Common views and shared challenges. This chapter allowed each of the authors to highlight their reflections from the book. I took a lesson from each:

  • Dr Andy Hooton: “Whether working within high-performance sport or physical activity, relationships are the bedrock of effective practice.
  • Dr Paula Watson: “The most effective applied practitioners learn something new with every client they see, every colleague they work with and every book they read.”
  • Dr Charlotte Chandler: “There are some non-negotiables in applied practice.”
  • Dr Andy Miles: “Simply having subject specific knowledge and skills is not enough to prosper in our profession.”
  • Dr Andy Borrie: “It is important that you understand WHY you are doing what you are doing.”

The book is published by Routledge.