This study examined the relative effectiveness of various cognitive techniques on the basketball free throw shooting performance of young athletes. Forty boys (ages 10.2–12.4 years) who were subjectively rated as good free throw shooters by staff members at a 6-week summer sports camp were randomly assigned to one of four training conditions. All initially performed 20 baseline trials of the free throw shot with a 45-sec intershot interval. After the last baseline trial the boys in each group received instructions and practiced their respective preshot techniques. The next day they received a second instructional period followed by a series of 10 free throws. During the last 15 seconds of the 45-sec intershot interval on these trials, subjects engaged in their respective preshot activity. An analysis of covariance was used to determine group differences in free throw percentage during the test trials, with free throw percentage during baseline trials used as the covariate. The results suggested that mental imagery combined with arousal adjustment is a useful preshot cognitive strategy that young athletes may use to enhance their free throw shooting performance.
Craig A. Wrisberg is with the Department of Physical Education and Dance, 344 HPER, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700. Mark H. Anshel is with the Department of Human Movement and Sport Sciences at the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.