(S)tumbling blocks : making sense of and creating a model for mental blocks in sport.


Access rights

No access – contact librarywebmaster@baylor.edu

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study is to contribute to the literature on athletic skill mental blocks (ASMBs) by providing a nuanced theoretical and methodological perspective on the topic. Through sensemaking theory, this study is one of the first qualitative methodological approaches to explain the experiences and sensemaking processes of athletes affected by ASMBs. Following a pilot study with 12 female acrobatics and tumbling, gymnastics, and cheerleading athletes, this research study interviewed 16 collegiate and/or professional athletes in order to describe and provide a model and grounded theory for the experiences and sensemaking processes of ASMBs. This study contributes to the academic literature on ASMBs by employing a nuanced methodological approach for studying this phenomenon. This approach uncovered themes that have not been reported in similar existing research while also contributing to the sensemaking communication literature by extending the theoretical framework to a new context. This research has numerous practical contributions to the coaching practice and sport organizations’ mental health resources, and it has the opportunity for front-facing research about the ASMB experience to reach stakeholders. This study allows increased understanding of ASMBs to surface within the population, while additionally providing advice for coping with and strategies for reintegration into athletic skills.