More than meets the (Rationalistic) Eye: A Neophyte Sport Psychology Practitioner’s Reflections on the Micro-politics of Everyday Life within a Rugby League Academy

Chris Rowley, Paul Potrac, Zoe Knowles, Lee Nelson

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Despite the welcome contributions of the reflective practice literature, understanding of the complexities, nuances and dilemmas of applied sport psychology practice is in need of further development. For example, there remains a paucity of inquiry addressing how practitioners make sense of, and subsequently write themselves into, the (micro)political landscape of a sporting organization. Utilizing a reflective, ethnographic approach, this paper examined the first author’s engagement with the socio-political dynamics of everyday life within a professional rugby league academy. Key themes identified were that; a) players simultaneously collaborate and compete with one another; b) tensions exist between the coaches; and c) most players end up being released. The micro-political workings of Ball (1987), and Kelchtermans (1996, 2009a, 2009b, 2011) were used as the primary heuristic frameworks, thus promoting the utility of these theories to inform critical appreciation of the day-to-day realities of applied sport psychology practice. The paper concludes by highlighting the potential benefits of researchers, educators, and practitioners better engaging with the contested, ambiguous, and professionally challenging demands of practice than that which has been achieved to date.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Early online date26 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2018



  • reflective practice
  • ethnography
  • vulnerability
  • stakeholders

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