Mental performance consultants' perspectives on self-regulated learning and how it relates to practice and performance


Self-regulated learning (SRL) comprises an athlete's application of self-processes to control thoughts, actions, and motivations when striving for practice goals (McCardle et al., 2019), with greater SRL being associated with sport expertise (Wilson et al., 2021). Despite the athletic utility of these psychological processes, it is unclear how they are viewed by the Mental Performance Consultants (MPCs) who help athletes develop them. We aimed to describe how MPCs see SRL and its relation to practice and performance. We interviewed 11 Canadian Sport Psychology Association professional MPCs (7 female, 4 male; 3-24 years experience) who consult adolescents on the psychology of practice, about personal conceptualizations of SRL. Data were thematically analyzed. MPCs self-defined SRL as an athlete's ability to be self-aware, set their own goals, and take ownership of learning processes. They aligned SRL with their values and philosophy as consultants because it was associated with self-reliance and independent functioning apart from the consultant. The MPCs described how effective self-regulated learners surpass the coach's set plan, are actively engaged in practice, and are adaptable to contexts and challenges. They thought SRL was essential for the maximal development of athletic performance. When asked to contrast Zimmerman's (2006) popular conceptualization to their own, they believed it made sense, but wanted more specificity within the definition and language suited to strategies in an applied setting. By comparing applied and theoretical perspectives on SRL, we discuss implications regarding the possibilities and limitations of emerging self-regulated sport practice tools and associated narratives in consultation on practice-enhancement.