This study was designed to assess the psychological principles used by coaches and to determine if various categories of coaches differed in the psychological skills and strategies they employed. Intercollegiate wrestling coaches (N=101) completed an extensive survey that assessed their opinions concerning the importance of, use of, frequency of problems arising with, and degree of success they feel they have had in changing or developing 21 psychological skills. Descriptive statistics revealed that the psychological attributes of mental toughness, positive attitude, individual motivation, and attention-concentration were judged to be most important for success in wrestling. Anxiety-stress control, attention-concentration, lack of confidence, and mental toughness were reported as the areas in which wrestlers most frequently experienced problems. The coaches indicated that the strategies most easily developed with their athletes were goal setting, team cohesion, and mental practice-imagery. Finally, the coaches felt they were most successful in enhancing team cohesion and communication, and developing sportsmanship and goal setting. Discriminant function analyses revealed that coaches who had attended USA wrestling sport science certification clinics significantly differed on several psychological principles from coaches who had not attended clinics. Coaching education implications of the results are discussed, and future research recommendations are forwarded.
Daniel Gould, Ken Hodge, and Kirsten Peterson are with the University of Illinois, Department of Kinesiology, 906 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801. Linda Petlichkoff is with the Department of HPER at Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725.