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The Effects of Centering on the Free-Throw Shooting Performance of Young Athletes

Karen Haddad and Patsy Tremayne

The present study investigated the effectiveness of a centering breath on the free throw shooting percentage of young athletes age 10–11 years. A convenience sample was used involving young representative basketball players (juniors who were trialed, selected, and identified as the most talented basketball players in their age group). They consisted of 2 females and 3 males (M = 10 years and 7 months, SD = 6months), from a basketball stadium located in Sydney, Australia. The participants trained at least twice a week and played representative games against other metropolitan associations on the weekends. A single subject multiple-baseline design was used, and through the use of visual inspection the centering breath was shown to be a useful tool for improving all participants’ performance to varying degrees. The findings indicate that it may be advantageous to explore the effectiveness of centering or other psychological skills in a variety of sport skills (closed versus open), and for children of different age groups.

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Effects of Musically-Induced Emotions on Choice Reaction Time Performance

Daniel T. Bishop, Costas I. Karageorghis, and Noel P. Kinrade

The main objective of the current study was to examine the impact of musically induced emotions on athletes’ subsequent choice reaction time (CRT) performance. A random sample of 54 tennis players listened to researcher-selected music whose tempo and intensity were modified to yield six different music excerpts (three tempi × two intensities) before completing a CRT task. Affective responses, heart rate (HR), and RTs for each condition were contrasted with white noise and silence conditions. As predicted, faster music tempi elicited more pleasant and aroused emotional states; and higher music intensity yielded both higher arousal (p < .001) and faster subsequent CRT performance (p < .001). White noise was judged significantly less pleasant than all experimental conditions (p < .001); and silence was significantly less arousing than all but one experimental condition (p < .001). The implications for athletes’ use of music as part of a preevent routine when preparing for reactive tasks are discussed.

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A Note from the Editor

Ian Maynard

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The Relationships among Skill Level, Age, and Golfers’ Observational Learning Use

Barbi Law and Craig Hall

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of skill level and age on golfers’ (n = 188) use of observational learning for skill, strategy, and performance functions, as assessed by the Functions of Observational Learning Questionnaire. Golf handicap was used as an objective measure of golf skill level, with a lower handicap reflecting a higher skill level. It was hypothesized that both age and skill level would predict observational learning use, with younger and less experienced golfers reporting increased use of all three functions of observational learning. It was also predicted that age and skill level would interact to predict use of the performance function, with younger golfers employing more of that function than older golfers at the same skill level. Partial support was obtained for these hypotheses. Regression analyses revealed that the interaction of age and skill level predicted use of the skill function. Younger golfers employed more of the skill function than older golfers; however this discrepancy increased as skill level decreased. Age, and not skill level, was a significant predictor of golfers’ use of both the strategy and performance functions, with younger golfers employing more of these functions than older golfers. These results suggest that age-related factors may have a greater impact than skill-related factors on observational learning use across the lifespan.

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Revisiting the Performance Profile Technique: Theoretical Underpinnings and Application

Daniel F. Gucciardi and Sandy Gordon

The performance profile technique (Butler, 1989, 1991), which stems from a personal construct psychology (PCP; Kelly, 1955/1991) framework, has become a useful methodology for identifying and understanding an athlete’s perceived need for areas of improvement. Despite the popularity of this technique, current descriptions and practices fail to appreciate key tenets of PCP which offer a greater insight into one’s perspective. Accordingly, the purposes of this paper are to revisit the performance profile technique and describe an extension of its current form by drawing on these key PCP tenets as well as providing an example of the revised methodology in practice. Following a brief overview of PCP, we outline two key tenets of this theoretical framework that have guided the revised version of the performance profile technique presented here. We conclude with a case example of the new methodology in practice using an Australian footballer’s perception of mental toughness.

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“Specializers” versus “Samplers” in Youth Sport: Comparing Experiences and Outcomes

Leisha Strachan, Jean Côté, and Janice Deakin

The purpose of the current study was to examine two different trajectories of sport participation and explore any similarities or differences that may result regarding personal development and sport outcomes. Seventy-four youth athletes (40 “specializers” and 34 “samplers”) were recruited for the current study and four measures were employed to assess sport experiences and outcomes. Discriminant function analyses revealed no differences between groups in asset possession or sources of enjoyment however, differences were reported in sport experiences and burnout. The “samplers” reported more experiences regarding the integration of sport and family as well as linkages to the community. Although the “specializers” reported higher levels of physical/emotional exhaustion than did the “samplers,” they also reported more experiences related to diverse peer groups. The differences highlight the importance of examining specific pathways of development in sport to gain a deeper understanding of youths’ experiences in sport.

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Topics in Applied Psychology: Sport and Exercise Psychology

Tadhg MacIntyre

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Understanding Adolescents’ Positive and Negative Developmental Experiences in Sport

Jessica Fraser-Thomas and Jean Côté

The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of adolescents’ positive and negative developmental experiences in sport. Twenty-two purposefully sampled adolescent competitive swimmers participated in a semistructured qualitative interview. Content analysis led to the organization of meaning units into themes and categories (Patton, 2002). Athletes suggested their sport involvement facilitated many positive developmental experiences (i.e., related to challenge, meaningful adult and peer relationships, a sense of community, and other life experiences) and some negative developmental experiences (i.e., related to poor coach relationships, negative peer influences, parent pressure, and the challenging psychological environment of competitive sport). Findings underline the important roles of sport programmers, clubs, coaches, and parents in facilitating youths’ positive developmental experiences in sport, while highlighting numerous important directions for future research. Implications for coach training and practice are outlined.

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Volume 22 (2008): Issue 4 (Dec 2008)

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Advanced Psychological Strategies and Anxiety Responses in Sport

Sheldon Hanton, Ross Wadey, and Stephen D. Mellalieu

This study examined the use of four advanced psychological strategies (i.e., simulation training, cognitive restructuring, preperformance routines, and overlearning of skills) and subsequent competitive anxiety responses. Semistructured interviews were employed with eight highly elite athletes from a number of team and individual sports. Participants reported using each strategy to enable them to interpret their anxiety-response as facilitative to performance. Only cognitive restructuring and overlearning of skills were perceived by the participants to exert an influence over the intensity of cognitive symptoms experienced. The perceived causal mechanisms responsible for these effects included heightened attentional focus, increased effort and motivation, and perceived control over anxiety-related symptoms. These findings have implications for the practice of sport psychology with athletes debilitated by competitive anxiety in stressful situations.