Seventeen (17) members of three NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams completed measures of mindfulness and sport-related anxiety to examine the relationship between mindfulness, preshot routine, trait arousal, and basketball free throw shooting percentage. It was hypothesized that (a) mindfulness scores would predict game free throw shooting percentage, (b) practice free throw percentage (indicative of basic skill) would predict game free throw percentage, and (c) consistency in the length of prefree throw routine would predict game free throw percentage. Results indicate that levels of mindfulness significantly predict game free throw percentage and that practice free throw percentage also predicts game free throw percentage. Length and/or consistency of preshot routine were not predictive. Although not proposed as a hypothesis, a statistically significant relationship was also found between an athlete’s year in school (which reflects competitive basketball experience) and game free throw percentage. Together, these results clearly suggest that the combination of mindfulness, skill (practice free throw percentage), and competitive experience (year in school) all contribute to the prediction of competitive free throw percentage and that these variables are more central to successful free throw percentage at this level of competition than length/consistency of one’s preshot routine.
Amy Gooding and Frank L. Gardner
Marjorie Bernier, Emilie Thienot, Romain Codron, and Jean F. Fournier
The two studies included herein discuss mindfulness and acceptance in sport performance. Based on exploratory interviews with elite swimmers, Study 1 showed that optimal performance, or “flow,” states reveal similar characteristics to mindfulness and acceptance states. In flow experiences, the elite swimmers described that they had been particularly mindful of their bodily sensations and accepted them. In Study 2, mindfulness and acceptance were integrated into a psychological skills training program for seven young elite golfers. The program, based on mindfulness and acceptance, contributed to performance enhancement in competition. Participants improved the efficacy of their routines by seeking more relevant internal and external information. The results of both studies corroborated those of previous studies dealing with mindfulness and acceptance in sport. Together, these studies enhance the applicability and efficacy of these approaches with athletic clientele.
Lillian A. De Petrillo, Keith A. Kaufman, Carol R. Glass, and Diane B. Arnkoff
The present study sought to determine the effects of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) on runners. Participants were 25 recreational long-distance runners openly assigned to either the 4-week intervention or to a waiting-list control group, which later received the same program. Results indicate that the MSPE group showed significantly more improvement in organizational demands (an aspect of perfectionism) compared with controls. Analyses of pre- to postworkshop change found a significant increase in state mindfulness and trait awareness and decreases in sport-related worries, personal standards perfectionism, and parental criticism. No improvements in actual running performance were found. Regression analyses revealed that higher ratings of expectations and credibility of the workshop were associated with lower postworkshop perfectionism, more years running predicted higher ratings of perfectionism, and more life stressors predicted lower levels of worry. Findings suggest that MSPE may be a useful mental training intervention for improving mindfulness, sport-anxiety related worry, and aspects of perfectionism in long-distance runners.
Zella E. Moore
As long as athletes strive to attain optimal performance states and consistently reach high performance goals, psychological interventions will be used to assist in the development of skill and the maintenance of performance. In the pursuit of these goals, newer evidence-driven models based on mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches have been designed to achieve these ends. Based upon questionable efficacy data for traditional psychological skills training procedures that emphasize reduction or control of internal processes, mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches develop skills of nonjudging mindful awareness, mindful attention, and experiential acceptance to aid in the pursuit of valued goals. The most formalized and researched mindfulness- and acceptance-based approach within sport psychology is the manualized Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) protocol. In the 8 years since the MAC was first developed and presented, and the 5 years since the first publication on the protocol, the MAC program has accumulated a continually growing empirical base for both its underlying theory and intervention efficacy as a performance enhancement intervention. This article reviews the empirical and theoretical foundations of the mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches in general, and MAC in particular; reviews the accumulated empirical findings in support of the MAC approach for performance enhancement; and presents recent MAC developments and suggested future directions.
Eric D. Morse
Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Mark A. Eys, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell, and Gershon Tenenbaum
Semistructured interviews were used in this study to learn about the challenges experienced by four groups of National Hockey League (NHL) players (N= 11): prospects (n= 3), rookies (n= 3), veterans (n= 2), and retirees (n= 3). The database is comprised of 757 meaning units grouped into 11 contextual challenges. From an additional quantitative analysis, the prospects and rookies emphasized challenges pertaining to scouting demands, training camp, increased athletic demands, team expectations, and earning team trust. The veterans spoke mostly of challenges including scouting demands, athletic demands, and team expectations. Retirees considered mostly challenges pertaining to team expectations, athletic demands, lifestyle, media demands, transactions, cross-cultural encounters, and playoffs. An expert panel ensured that the interview guide, data analysis, and the findings represented the participants’ experiences in the NHL. Recommendations for practitioners and researchers working with NHL players are proposed.
Rebecca K. Dickinson and Stephanie J. Hanrahan
This study investigated the properties of the Athens Insomnia Scale (Soldatos et al., 2000), the Fatigue Severity Scale (Krupp et al., 1989), and subscales of the SLEEP-50 Questionnaire (Spoormaker et al., 2005) in elite Australian athletes, to determine their appropriateness for this population. Fifty-nine athletes (29 male, 30 female, M = 21.86 yrs, SD = 7.44) from elite basketball, rowing, netball, beach volleyball, and sailing squads completed measures. A subset (n= 20) completed measures again at a 1-month interval, and a further subset (n= 5) were interviewed about their thoughts regarding the measures and their understanding of sleep. All scales and subscales displayed high internal consistency, apart from that which contained items not theoretically related, and all displayed good 1-month test-retest reliability. All measures were significantly correlated, demonstrating convergent validity. Athletes reported few sleep problems, but moderate fatigue. Athletes stated the measures produced accurate reflections of their sleep and fatigue, but also suggested improvements. Research limitations and implications are discussed.
Anne M. Haase
As female athletes participating in physique-salient sports report similar levels of social physique anxiety (SPA) and disordered eating symptoms compared with those in nonphysique salient sports, alternative factors contributing to disordered eating require consideration, specifically participation in sport type (team vs. individual). This study examined SPA and disordered eating correlates in female athletes (N= 137) in two sport types (team sports and individual sports). Individual sport athletes exhibited higher SPA, F(1, 135) = 22.03, p< .001; dieting, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 57.05) = 43.79, p< .001; and bulimic behavior, Brown and Forsythe’s F(1, 59.92) = 13.45, p= .001 than team sport athletes. SPA and sport type together predicted 44% of dieting and 22% of bulimic symptom variance, suggesting that individual-sport athletes with higher SPA experienced greater disordered eating. Involvement in individual sports where physique is more open to social evaluation may contribute to dieting and bulimic symptoms among female athletes.
Aditi Mankad, Sandy Gordon, and Karen Wallman
Psychological trauma associated with long-term injury can cause athletes to experience intense stress-like symptoms and considerable negative affect (e.g., Tracey, 2003; Udry, 1997). Due to the nature of competitive sport, however, it is thought that injured athletes inhibit these emotions to the detriment of their physical health. The present study examined Pennebaker’s (1989) emotional disclosure paradigm within a sporting context. It was hypothesized that writing about a traumatic injury would reduce athletes’ mood disturbance and stress during rehabilitation. Further, it was believed that these changes would correspond with an increase in immune expression from pre- to postintervention. Elite injured athletes (N = 9) rehabilitating from anterior cruciate ligament surgery participated in the 3-day writing intervention, consisting of 3 X 20 min writing sessions, during which athletes disclosed negative emotions associated with their injury and rehabilitation experiences. Measures were taken at six time-points (T1-T6), with pre- and postintervention phases lasting for 4 weeks each. Measures consisted of psychological stress (intrusion and avoidance), total mood disturbance, and relative cell-counts/µL for circulating T-cells (CD4/8) and NK cells (CD16/56). Repeated-measures ANOVAs showed a signifcant main effect of time for intrusion, F(5, 70) = 5.83, p =.001, η2 = .29 and avoidance, F(5, 70) = 5.73, p =.002, η2 = 0.29 subscales; mood disturbance, F(5, 70) = 3.71, p= 0.005, η2 = 0.21; and CD4+, F(5, 65) = 2.39, p= 0.048, η2 = .16. Subsequent linear contrasts provided further evidence of significant prepost differences among the stress, mood state, and immune variables. These results suggest that the written disclosure intervention has potential psycho-immunological benefits for athletes rehabilitating from long-term injury.
Anthony Ferreira, Fernando Perez-Diaz, and Charles Cohen-Salmon
Human studies suggest the existence of an exercise dependency syndrome and a link between drug intake and intense physical activity. Our aim was to assess whether a link actually existed between running activity and cocaine intake in mice. Thirty male Swiss mice were used. Ten mice were used as controls, individually housed in cages without a wheel, and 20 mice were in cages with free access to a running wheel. Cocaine preference was estimated as the ratio (as percent) of cocaine solution intake over total fuid intake in the course of free oral access to cocaine solution versus water. High cocaine scores were only found with high wheel activity. The lowest activity scores were found with low cocaine preference. A group of “high runners” impervious to cocaine appetence and to the effects of exercise withdrawal were found, which may suggest that shared mechanisms could be involved in both dependence on sport and drug taking. Findings suggest that moderate activity seems to be associated with low cocaine preference, and cocaine intake could increase in cases of intense activity. The urge for physical activity (as seen with top-level professional athletes) may theoretically combine with different degrees of vulnerability to cocaine. The use of substances by those engaging in intense physical activity, for performance enhancement or recreational purposes, could potentially trigger a pattern of consumption and addiction. This pattern corresponds with the theory that there may be an addictive element in physical activity. Animal models could prove useful for identifying biological or behavioral predictors of such vulnerability and identifying persons either at risk or possessing resistance.