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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.

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Coaching Efficacy and Coaching Effectiveness: Examining Their Predictors and Comparing Coaches’ and Athletes’ Reports

Maria Kavussanu, Ian D. Boardley, Natalia Jutkiewicz, Samantha Vincent, and Christopher Ring

Research on the conceptual model of coaching efficacy (Feltz, Chase, Moritz, & Sullivan, 1999) has increased dramatically over the past few years. Utilizing this model as the guiding framework, the current study examined: (a) coaching experience and sex as predictors of coaches’ coaching efficacy; (b) sport experience, sex, and the match/mismatch in sex between coach and athlete as predictors of athletes’ perceptions of their coach’s effectiveness on the four coaching efficacy domains; and (c) whether coaches’ reports of coaching efficacy and athletes’ perceptions of coaching effectiveness differed. Coaches (N = 26) and their athletes (N = 291) from 8 individual and 7 team sports drawn from British university teams (N = 26) participated in the study. Coaches completed the Coaching Efficacy Scale (CES), while athletes evaluated their coach’s effectiveness using an adapted version of the CES; coaches and athletes also responded to demographic questions. Results indicated that, in coaches, years of coaching experience positively predicted technique coaching efficacy, and males reported higher game strategy efficacy than females. In athletes, sport experience negatively predicted all perceived coaching effectiveness dimensions, and the mismatch in sex between athletes and their coach negatively predicted perceived motivation and character building coaching effectiveness. Finally, on average, coaches’ ratings of coaching efficacy were significantly higher than their athletes’ ratings of coaching effectiveness on all dimensions. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for coaching effectiveness.

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Imagery Use during Rehabilitation from Injury: A Case Study of an Elite Athlete

Rebecca Hare, Lynne Evans, and Nichola Callow

The present study explored the perceived affect of personal and situational variables, perception of pain, and imagery ability on the function and outcome of an Olympic athlete’s use of imagery. To gain an in-depth understanding of these factors, semistructured interviews were conducted across three phases of injury rehabilitation, and return to competition. The athlete also completed the Athletic Injury Imagery Questionnaire-2 (Sordoni, Hall, & Forwell, 2002), the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire-2 (Roberts, Callow, Markland, Hardy, & Bringer, 2008), and the Visual Analogue Scale for pain (Huskisson, 1974). Findings highlight the perceived affects of personal and situational variables and imagery ability on the athlete’s responses to injury and function of imagery use. Further, this usage was perceived by the athlete to affect outcome depending on the phase of rehabilitation. Interestingly, perception of pain was not considered by the athlete to influence imagery use, this might have been due to the low pain rating reported.

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Investigating the Functions of Self-Talk: The Effects of Motivational Self-Talk on Self-Efficacy and Performance in Young Tennis Players

Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos Zourbanos, Christos Goltsios, and Yannis Theodorakis

The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of motivational self-talk on self-efficacy and performance. Participants were 46 young tennis players (mean age 13.26, SD 1.96 years). The experiment was completed in five sessions. In the first session, participants performed a forehand drive task. Subsequently, they were divided into an experimental and a control group. Both groups followed the same training protocol for three sessions, with the experimental group practicing self-talk. In the final session, participants repeated the forehand drive task, with participants in the experimental group using motivational self-talk. Mixed model ANOVAs revealed significant group by time interactions for self-efficacy (p < .05) and performance (p < .01). Follow-up comparisons showed that self-efficacy and performance of the experimental group increased significantly (p < .01), whereas self-efficacy and performance of the control group had no significant changes. Furthermore, correlation analysis showed that increases in self-efficacy were positively related to increases in performance (p < .05). The results of the study suggest that increases in self-efficacy may be a viable mechanism explaining the facilitating effects of self-talk on performance.