Covert Modeling as a Procedure for Altering an Elite Athlete’s Psychological State

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Brent S. Rushall San Diego State University

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This paper describes the steps taken to use covert modeling as a procedure to alter a problematic loss of confidence in an elite wrestler. The traditional steps of the procedure were modified to suit the client and situation. The then world champion was determined to be a phobic stimulus, as the client could not imagine himself performing successfully with the champion. The covert model at first incorporated the champion and a fictional model. After the determination of detailed appropriate behaviors for a high level of wrestling performance, the athlete modeled their occurrence. After familiarity with the procedure had been established, the wrestler was gradually substituted for the fictional character. He reported practicing modeling outside of consultation sessions and deemed the imagery successful after he had substituted himself as the model. Both the wrestler and his coach considered the procedure to be successful. Performances were markedly improved after the intervention. Covert modeling was proposed as being a viable method for eliminating fear, a loss of confidence, and negative self-appraisals in athletes.

Brent S. Rushall is with the Department of Physical Education, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182.

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