Elite Divers and Wrestlers: A Comparison Between Open- and Closed-skill Athletes

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Pamela S. HighlenUniversity of Western Ontario

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Bonnie B. BennettUniversity of Western Ontario

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Elite wrestlers (n = 39) and divers (n = 44), representing open- and closed-skill sports, respectively, completed a survey assessing psychological factors associated with training and competition. Of particular interest were factors distinguishing qualifiers from nonqualifiers within and between each sport type. Discriminant analyses and t-tests revealed that as expected self-confidence and concentration distinguished qualifiers from nonqualifiers in both sport groups. Also, as predicted, use of imagery differentiated only the qualifying from the nonqualifying divers. Self-talk items also distinguished the two diving groups on more items than they differentiated the wrestlers. However, when all elite divers were compared with their wrestling counterparts, no differences were found for the imagery scale and self-talk frequency, instruction, and praise items. Anticipatory anxiety patterns for divers and wrestlers were different, with successful divers and less successful wrestlers reporting higher precompetition levels of anxiety. During competition nonqualifiers across sport type reported higher anxiety. Implications for a sport-specific typology of psychological characteristics are discussed.

This research was partially supported by a grant from the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association. We wish to thank Glynn Leyshon, coach of the 1979 Canadian National Wrestling Team, diving coach Keith Stewart, and the Canadian Amateur Diving Association for their enthusiastic support. Likewise, we extend our appreciation to Sandy Nuttall for her valuable statistical consultation. Finally, we especially want to thank the divers and wrestlers who participated in this study.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Pamela S. Highlen, The Ohio State University, Department of Psychology, 411 Arps Hall, 1945 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Bonnie Bennett is now at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Her address is 160D Gardiner Loop, West Point, NY 10996.

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