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.