1988 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Excellence: II. Thoughts and Affect Occurring during Competition

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Daniel Gould UNC, Greensboro

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Robert C. Eklund Auburn University

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Susan A. Jackson UNC, Greensboro

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This is second in a series of articles reporting on a study involving interviews with all 20 members of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team regarding their performances in the Seoul Olympics. Qualitative research methodology and analyses were employed and the results of the analyses of thoughts and affect occurring during competition were examined. The wrestlers responded to a series of questions about their all-time best match, worst Olympic match, and most crucial Olympic match. Considerable consistency was found across wrestler responses regarding best and worst matches whereas striking differences were found between best and worst matches. During best matches, wrestlers were extremely confident, totally focused, and optimally aroused. They also focused on clear tactical strategies. During worst matches, the wrestlers were not confident, had inappropriate feeling states, experienced many task-irrelevant and negative thoughts, and either deviated from strategic plans or made poor strategy choices. These results are consistent with other research on Olympic athletes and with peak performance, peak experience, and flow research.

Gould and Jackson are with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412-5001. Eklund is with the Dept. of Health and Human Performance, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36830.

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