Perceptions of Psychological Momentum and Their Relationship to Performance

in The Sport Psychologist
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The present investigation examined perceptions of psychological momentum, situation criticality, and skill level and then determined the relationships between these variables and performance outcome in volleyball using archival data. Division I and beginning volleyball students completed questionnaires to determine perceptions of momentum. Different scenarios were provided in which situation criticality and perceived momentum were manipulated. Subjects responded to each scenario by rating which team they perceived to have a psychological advantage. Actual game situations in which one team came back from 3 points down to tie were analyzed to determine the outcome of the next five serves, 5 points, and the game at critical and noncritical stages. Results indicated that subjects’ perceived momentum had a psychological influence on the game but that only low-skill subjects perceived it as having an influence on performance. Momentum had minimal influence on subsequent performance in actual game situations.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203.

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