Psychological Momentum During and Across Sports Matches: Evidence for Interconnected Time Scales

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Groningen
  • | 2 University of Montpellier
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This study on psychological momentum (PM) in sports provides the first experimental test of an interconnection between short-term PM (during a match) and long-term PM (across a series of matches). Twenty-two competitive athletes were striving to win a prize during a rowing-ergometer tournament, consisting of manipulated races. As hypothesized, athletes who had developed long-term positive PM after two successful races were less sensitive to a negative momentum scenario in the third race, compared with athletes who had developed long-term negative PM after two unsuccessful races. More specifically, the exerted efforts, perceptions of momentum, and self-efficacy were higher for participants who had developed long-term positive PM, and their perceptions of momentum and self-efficacy decreased less rapidly. These results illustrate a typical complex dynamical systems property, namely interconnected time scales, and provide deeper insights into the dynamical nature of PM.

Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh, Paul L. C. Van Geert, Nico W. Van Yperen, and Ralf F. A. Cox are with the Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Christophe Gernigon is with the Department of Sport and Physical Education Sciences, University of Montpellier, France.

Address author correspondence to Ruud J.R. Den Hartigh at