Psychological Characteristics of Successful and Nonsuccessful Big Ten Wrestlers

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Daniel Gould Michigan State University

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Maureen Weiss Michigan State University

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Robert Weinberg North Texas State University

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Wrestlers (N=49) competing in the 1980 Big Ten championship tournament completed a psychological skills inventory assessing psychological factors used in both training and competition. The relationships between 22 cognitive variables and two performance measures (tournament placement and seasonal won-loss record) were then examined using t-tests and discriminant function analyses. The findings revealed that self-confidence, maximum potential, and use of attentional focusing were the most important variables separating the groups. Specifically, successful wrestlers as compared to less successful wrestlers were more self-confident, indicated that they were closer to achieving their maximum wrestling potential, and more frequently focused their attention only on wrestling-related thoughts prior to competition. Unlike the previous studies, few differences in anxiety level or in coping responses to anxiety were evident between the successful and less successful wrestlers. Limitations of the design used in this type of research are discussed and suggestions for more controlled field experiments examining self-confidence and attentional control intervention techniques are outlined.

The authors would like to thank Steve Combs, Executive Director of the United States Wrestling Federation, for his assistance in conducting the study. Appreciation is also extended to Mike Bradley and Tom Sampson for their assistance in the data collection. The authors would like to thank Dr. Pamela Highlen for providing the revised copy of the Highlen and Bennett (1979) inventory and for her suggestion of using Cronbach's alpha to evaluate the appropriateness of scale items. Reprint requests should be sent to Daniel Gould, Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Room 203 - IM Sports Circle, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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