Dr. Sharleen Hoar is an assistant professor teaching Sport & Exercise Psychology in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at The University of Lethbridge. Sharleen completed her doctoral work under the supervision of Dr. Peter Crocker at UBC in the spring 2003. Dr. Hoar established the laboratory for Emotion and Sport Performance in 2008. Currently her research explores emotional development of children and adolescents through participation in sport and physical activity. Specifically, her research aims to (a) understand the fundamental cognitive, social, and behavioural components of emotion regulation, and (b) identify skills and competencies that can be enhanced as part of intervention programs to facilitate positive adaptation for youth who are at risk for psychological and health problems due to exposure to stress and adversity within the sport and physical activity context. Her research has several interrelated themes including: stress, coping, and emotion; the role of the sport social network in the development of coping skills in adolescence; help-seeking behaviour in sport; and determinants of physical activity in the transition to post-secondary education. Dr. Hoar applies her expertise in the area of mental skills development by working with Canadian athletes of all ages and skill abilities.
I am passionate about understanding psychological resiliency in the context of performance achievement. This interest emerged from my personal experiences in competitive sport (as a national level figure skater as a youth) and from a 4th year undergraduate applied sport psychology course taught by Neil Widmeyer at the University of Waterloo. During Neil’s course, I became aware that it was possible for human performers to LEARN to regulate achievement performance related-emotions. This poignant fact meant that anyone could develop a set of effective strategies that would limit the impact of debilitating emotions (such as anxiety) and augment the effects of facilitating emotions (such as joy) on ones performance. I now understood that being psychologically resilient was not an elusive personality trait, which I had not genetically acquired, but something that I could systematically build up. Learning psychological resiliency skills could enhance performance (important for those who desire to reach the pinnacle of his or her achievement domain such as sport, academe, drama, and business to name a few), protect from ill health and injury, and increase personal satisfaction in the process of striving to achieve. From that point on I was hooked and wanted to learn more.
My work is directly poised for ‘real world’ application. Most of us participate in sport because of the emotions that are evoked. The American Broadcasting Company’s sport program Wide World of Sport (which I recall spending many of my Saturday afternoons watching with my father) coined the tag line “Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat” to describe this draw that we have to sport. Though my work is grounded in theory and academe thought, the questions that I ask come directly from my experience developing athletes’ psychological resiliency skills. My research laboratory is ‘field-based’, using survey and observation methods to better understand emotional control processes, as it authentically unfolds in ‘real world’ human performance contexts. In turn, the information gained from my research is used to develop evidence-based interventions that athletes employ to effectively manage the stress and emotion that naturally surfaces during an achievement-oriented performance.
To date the greatest honour in my career has been the peak performances that have been achieved by my athletic clients that I consult with. In the application of my research, I have assisted athletes in achieving some of their dreams including: qualification for 2010 Olympic games; gold medals at World Championship, World Cup races, and the Youth Olympic games; obtaining professional sport contracts; being named ‘most valuable player’ or ‘most improved player’ of their University team.
To be plain, my research wouldn’t happen without students. So, students are critical to the success of my research program. My research samples typically consist of 150 to 600 athletes who are actively engaged in competition. To collect the data, substantial manpower is required. In addition, students inspire new questions and different ways about thinking about old questions. The undergraduate and graduate students that work in my laboratory (Emotion and Sport Performance Laboratory) are regarded as members of a team. Each student has a unique role to fulfill in the research process. The individual role assigned to a student is predicated on his or her strengths as a student as well as aspects of the research that serve as a appropriate challenge to his or her skill set. To inspire each other, our research team has weekly team meetings and opportunities to compete for the coveted “Champ Award” (with Mahamad Ali’s quote “I knew I was great, before I was”). I have been considerably fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of University of Lethbridge’s brightest and hard working students.
How to get Canadian’s to move and keep them moving throughout their lifespan! Less than half of the Canadian population is physically active enough to derive health (mental and physical) benefits. The physical activity issue spans all spheres affecting quality of life for Canadians including physical, psychological and spiritual functioning; connections established with the physical and social environment; as well as maintaining and enhancing skills.
"Creating a positive start" Legend May 2010
"Enriching lives through sport psychology" Faculty of Arts & Sciences in your Community Winter 2009 (see p.20)