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Sex Differences in Perceived Motor Competence After the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program Intervention

Leesi George-Komi, Kara K. Palmer, Stephanie A. Palmer, Michael A. Nunu, and Leah E. Robinson

This study examined the effects of a motor-skill intervention on children’s perceived motor competence (PMC; object control, locomotor, and combined [total]) and explored if effects differed between the sexes. Preschoolers (N = 274; 47.96 months) completed either a motor-skill intervention (the Children’s Health Activity Motor Program [CHAMP]) or recess. PMC was measured with the Digital Scale of PMC before and after each condition. Controlling for pretest scores, recess girls had lower posttest object-control PMC scores than CHAMP boys, CHAMP girls, and recess boys (all p < .05). CHAMP children had significantly higher posttest locomotor and total PMC (all p < .001) compared with children who engaged in recess. CHAMP partially eliminates sex differences in PMC, particularly for object-control skills. Girls who participated in recess did not increase PMC like children in CHAMP and boys who engaged in outdoor recess.

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Mental Effort in Elite and Nonelite Rowers

Henrik Herrebrøden, Thomas Espeseth, and Laura Bishop

Mental effort (intensity of attention) in elite sports has remained a debated topic and a challenging phenomenon to measure. Thus, a quasi-ecological laboratory study was conducted to investigate mental effort in elite rowers as compared with a group of nonelites. Findings suggest that eye-tracking measures—specifically, blink rates and pupil size—can serve as valid indicators of mental effort in physically demanding sport tasks. Furthermore, findings contradict the notion that elite athletes spend less cognitive effort than their lower-level peers. Specifically, elites displayed similar levels of self-reported effort and performance decrement with increasing mental load and significantly more mental effort overall as measured by pupil-size increase (relative to baseline) during rowing trials as compared with the nonelites in the sample. Future studies on eye tracking in sports may include investigations of mental effort in addition to selective attention during physically demanding tasks.

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The Relationship of Resilience, Self-Compassion, and Social Support to Psychological Distress in Women Collegiate Athletes During COVID-19

Matthew Mikesell, Trent A. Petrie, Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, and E. Whitney G. Moore

Given how COVID-19 had caused significant increases in collegiate athletes’ psychological distress, we examined the extent to which such distress may have been ameliorated by the athletes’ psychosocial resources (e.g., resilience). We used structural equation modeling to examine the direct and indirect relationships of resilience, self-compassion, and social support to women collegiate athletes’ (N = 3,924; 81.2% White) psychological distress; athletes completed measures of these constructs from mid-April to mid-May 2020. Analyses revealed significant direct effects: More supported (β = −0.12 to −0.19), self-compassionate (β = −0.48 to −0.53), and resilient (β = −0.21 to −0.35) athletes experienced less psychological distress (R 2 = .61–.65). Further, self-compassion and social support were related indirectly (and inversely) to psychological distress through higher levels of resilience. These psychosocial resources appear to have played a positive role in how athletes coped with the pandemic, being associated with less psychological distress. These findings have application beyond the pandemic, providing direction for how sport psychology professionals may assist athletes in maintaining their well-being.

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An Examination of the Challenge/Threat State and Sport-Performance Relationship While Controlling for Past Performance

Matthew Jewiss, Oliver R. Runswick, and Iain Greenlees

A challenge state is associated with superior performance compared to a threat state in a variety of performance domains (e.g., sport, aviation, education). However, in the challenge and threat (C/T) literature, between-subjects variability in past performance is often inconsistently controlled for. Here, we aimed to investigate the effects of C/T states on performance using two methods to control for past performance. Experiment 1 used previous performance statistics in a between-subjects design and Experiment 2 used a within-subject design. In Experiment 1, regression analysis showed that cardiovascular correlates of C/T states predicted cricket batting performance in 45 amateur cricketers. In Experiment 2, between- and within-subject analysis found that past performance was the only predictor of subsequent golf putting performance in 40 noncompetitive golfers. Taken together, the findings challenge the role that C/T states play in predicting performance under pressure after controlling for past performance.

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The Relationships Between Neural Activity and In-Game Hitting Performance in Baseball

Jason R. Themanson, Grace Norton, Evan Daly, Leah Thoma, and Brad E. Sheese

The current study examines the relationships between hitters’ neural activity and their in-game hitting performance. Collegiate baseball players completed a computerized video task assessing whether thrown pitches were balls or strikes while their neural activity was recorded. In addition, each player’s hitting statistics were collected for the following baseball season. Results showed that neural activity during the computerized task was associated with in-game hitting performance, even after accounting for other individual difference variables. These findings indicate that players’ neural activity measured in a laboratory environment shows a translational relationship with in-game hitting performance over time. Neural activity provides a more objective analysis of players’ ongoing self-regulatory processes during hitting and a better understanding of the cognitive processes associated with hitting performance. Self-regulatory cognitive control is adaptable and trainable, and this research advances the measurement of cognitive variables related with in-game hitting performance in baseball.

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Jeff Caron, Alyson Crozier, Alison Ede, Matt Hoffman, Seungmin Lee, Sascha Leisterer, Sean Locke, Desi McEwan, Kathleen Mellano, Eva Pila, and Matthew Stork

Edited by Kim Gammage

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Volume 45 (2023): Issue 3 (Jun 2023)

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The Provision and Experience of Variety in Physical Activity Settings: A Systematic Review of Quantitative and Qualitative Studies

Narelle Eather, Emily McLachlan, Benjamin Sylvester, Mark Beauchamp, Colin Sanctuary, and David Lubans

Background: Emerging evidence indicates that the provision or experience of “variety” may be an important determinant of physical activity behavior. Variety refers to diverse endeavors, opportunities, or tasks and, in the context of physical activity, has been examined as a feature of an activity or environment (i.e., variety support) and an experience (i.e., one’s felt experience or perceived variety). Objective: The primary aim of our review was to synthesize studies investigating the provision or experience of variety in physical activity settings on health and well-being, behaviors, and motivation. Our secondary aim was to examine quantitative data reporting on different facets of variety in physical activity settings. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of five electronic databases (Scopus, SPORTDiscus, Science Direct, MEDLINE, and the Human Kinetics Library) to identify studies providing a quantitative or qualitative assessment of variety in physical activity settings. Results: We identified 5,576 potentially relevant articles to examine. After title and abstract screening (and removal of duplicates), 74 articles remained for full-text screening, from which 28 studies were deemed eligible. Our findings from qualitative and quantitative (experimental and cross-sectional) studies demonstrate that the provision and experience of variety relates to participation and engagement in physical activity, motivation for exercise and physical activity, and well-being outcomes. Our results also indicate that the provision of variety can increase enjoyment, interest (i.e., motivation), and adherence to a physical activity program. Conclusion: Our findings support the assertion that variety should be considered during planning, implementation, and evaluation of physical activity programs. Additional experimental studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how elements of physical activity and exercise programs, delivery, and environment can be manipulated to increase variety and foster participation in physical activity.

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Investigating Intraindividual Variability of Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Relations With Subsequent Physical Activity

Erin J. Reifsteck, Derek J. Hevel, Shelby N. Anderson, Amanda L. Rebar, and Jaclyn P. Maher

Heeding recent calls to capture dynamic variability of physical activity (PA) motivation within a self-determination theory framework, this study examined the extent to which psychological needs satisfaction in PA predicted subsequent PA, disaggregating within-person and between-persons data. University students (N = 89) wore an ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer for 6 days and reported basic psychological needs satisfaction daily. Multilevel models examined whether competence, autonomy, and relatedness for the previous day’s PA (>2,020 counts per minute) predicted the following day’s minutes of PA (>2,020 counts per minute), controlling for previous-day PA. Participants who, on average, reported greater feelings of autonomy and competence tended to engage in more minutes of PA the following day. When participants reported feeling greater relatedness than what was typical for them, they tended to engage in more PA the following day. Psychological needs vary day to day, but how and to what extent they predict PA depends on the specific need.

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Volume 45 (2023): Issue S1 (May 2023)