Patterns of Change in Psychological Variables Leading up to Competition in Superior Versus Inferior Performers

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Loughborough University
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The study explored patterns of change in a number of potentially performance-related variables (i.e., fatigue, social support, self-efficacy, autonomous motivation, mental skills) during the lead-up to a competitive triathlon, and whether these patterns of change differed for relatively superior versus inferior performers. Forty-two triathletes completed an inventory measuring the study variables every other day during a 2-week period leading up to competition. Performance was assessed using participants’ race time, and using a self-referenced relative score compared with personal best times. Multilevel growth curve analyses revealed significant differences in growth trajectories over the 2-week period in mental skills use, social support, and fatigue. The results provide novel insight into how athletes’ fluctuating psychological state in the 2 weeks before competition may be crucial in determining performance.

Ruth Boat and Ian M. Taylor are with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK.

Address author correspondence to Ruth Boat at r.boat@lboro.ac.uk.
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