The think aloud method and its utility within coach, athlete and sport psychology practitioner development

Amy Whitehead, Hayley McEwan

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A primary objective of sport psychology consulting is to assist athletes and coaches in identifying the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours associated with effective performance. A potential method that has been adopted within research is the think aloud (TA) method, which has been used to explore athlete cognition in a variety of different sports. TA involves asking a participant to verbalise their thoughts concurrently throughout the duration of a task (Ericsson & Simon, 1993). Previous studies have used TA to generate information about athletes’ and coach’s thoughts and understand how they think during performances, cope with pressure, and focus their attention. With the growth in interest in TA as a method to generate insights into athletes’ “in-event” cognitions, it is timely to examine the utility of this method in applied sport psychology practice. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the use of TA within sport psychology practice. To achieve this, we delivered an educational workshop on TA to 25 trainee or HCPC sport psychologists, and conducted follow-up interviews with 10 trainees and 4 HCPC practitioners at 6 and 12 weeks’ post-workshop to identify if and how the participants used TA within their practice as applied sport psychologists. Preliminary findings reveal the practicalities of applying TA with a range of athletes (e.g., golfers, rugby kickers) and coaches. Applied implications demonstrate how TA can be used at different phases of applied sport psychology support (e.g., needs analysis, monitoring phases). Finally, conclusions are drawn on the perceived benefits and limitations of TA in applied sport psychology practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021
Event13th ICCE Global Coach Conference - University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 17 Nov 202120 Nov 2021


Conference13th ICCE Global Coach Conference
Internet address


  • Think Aloud
  • professional development
  • applied sport psychology


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