This article considers interesting differences between the mental focus employed by an elite athlete javelin thrower (E1) when contrasted with three international standard javelin throwers (I1, I2, I3). Athletes’ mental focus was recorded in both competition and training using self-report measures. In addition, kinematic analysis through point of release was examined for both categories of athlete. In both conditions, E1 demonstrated lower patterns of movement variability. Interestingly, a contrasting mental focus was recorded among athletes I1, I2, and I3 when compared with athlete E1. Tentative conclusions are drawn concerning the optimum sources of information for athletes before task execution in self-paced athletic events.
Is What You Think What You Get? Optimizing Mental Focus for Technical Performance
Alan MacPherson, Dave Collins, and Calvin Morriss
What Works When Working with Athletes
Angela Fifer, Keith Henschen, Daniel Gould, and Kenneth Ravizza
A highly effective method for disseminating knowledge is to observe the most experienced individuals in the field of interest. Although business, teaching, and coaching have been mentoring and apprenticing students for years, the field of applied sport psychology does not have a long formal history of doing so. The purpose of this article is to capture and present the thoughts, theories, and techniques employed by highly experienced applied sport psychology consultants to formally record what they believe “works when working with athletes.” General topics discussed include: gaining entry, techniques of assessment, delivery of information, and approaches for preparing athletes for “major competitions.” Common ideas and practical guidelines are summarized from the authors and discussed in light of current scientific and professional practice knowledge in the field. These consultants do not claim they have all the answers, but rather share their experiences in hopes of providing ideas and facilitating self-reflection concerning consulting effectiveness on the part of the reader.
Volume 22 (2008): Issue 2 (Jun 2008)
“Amplification of Error”: A Rapidly Effective Method for Motor Performance Improvement
Chiara Milanese, Gabriella Facci, Paola Cesari, and Carlo Zancanaro
The aim of the current work was to test the effects of an innovative teaching method in improving motor skills. We evaluated the effectiveness of an error-based instruction method (Method of Amplification of Error, MAE) in increasing the performance of 13-year-old school students in the standing long jump. We compared MAE with direct verbal instruction (DI) and no instruction (Control group). The rationale for the MAE method is that giving a participant the opportunity to experience directly his or her own main movement error will trigger a positive searching strategy that will in turn help him or her to improve performance. The effectiveness of MAE is because of the type of feedback provided, namely the same motor-perceptive language used by the participant. Results showed that for the MAE and DI groups the length of jump increased from pre- to post-instruction, but postinstruction performance of the MAE group was significantly that of both of the other groups. It appears that MAE is an easy-to-use method for rapidly improving motor performance in the school teaching setting.
Effective Coaching in Action: Observations of Legendary Collegiate Basketball Coach Pat Summitt
Andrea J. Becker and Craig A. Wrisberg
The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the practice behaviors of Pat Summitt, the winningest collegiate basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. Throughout the 2004–05 season, Summitt’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors were video recorded during six practices. A total of 3,296 behaviors were observed and coded using the Arizona State University Observation Instrument (Lacy & Darst, 1984). Results indicated that 55% (n = 1810) of Summitt’s behaviors were directed toward the team, whereas 45% (n = 1,486) were directed toward individual players. The most frequent behavior was instruction (48%, n = 1,586) followed by praise (14.5%, n = 478) and hustle (10.7%, n = 351). Contrary to predictions, no differences were found in the quantity or quality of the coaching behaviors that Summitt directed toward high and low expectancy players.
In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training (4th Ed.)
The MVP Model: From Phenomenology to Practice
This article is an introduction to the MVP model, which focuses on the experience of competitive sport performance from a phenomenological stance, with particular emphasis on the influence of perceived success and failure. One premise of the MVP model is that sport performance is partially determined by the athlete’s interpretation of prior performances, which influences the trajectory and intensity of his or her phenomenological state. A second premise is that when the experiences described by athletes are analyzed together as a “layered picture,” these experiences tend to follow a pattern summarized by a sequence of six “competitive positions,” which can be arranged around a semicircumplex called the “Performance Dial.” The Performance Dial is an educational tool that can be used in consultations to facilitate communication between practitioners and athletes. The MVP model also serves as a framework within which sport psychology research findings can be understood in relation to the experience of sport performance, thereby increasing the applicability of sport performance research for practitioners.
Performance Enhancement with Music in Rowing Sprint
Mária Rendi, Attila Szabo, and Tamás Szabó
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of fast- and slow-tempo music on 500-m rowing sprint performances. Twenty-two rowers performed 500-m sprints 3 times: rowing without music, rowing to slow music, and rowing to fast tempo music. Strokes per minute (SPM), time to completion, (TTC), and rated perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded. Although RPE did not differ between the rowing conditions, TTC was shortest in the fast music condition. Further, shorter TTC was observed in the slow music condition in contrast to the control condition, indicating that slow music also enhanced performance. The strongest treatment effects emerged, however, in the examination of the SPM that were significantly higher during rowing to fast music in comparison with rowing to slow music or no music. These results suggest that fast music acts as an external psyching-up stimulus in brief and strenuous muscle work.
Reducing Heavy Drinking in Intercollegiate Athletes: Evaluation of a Web-Based Personalized Feedback Program
Diana M. Doumas and Tonya Haustveit
This study evaluated the efficacy of a Web-based personalized feedback program aimed at reducing drinking in freshman intercollegiate athletes. The program was offered through the Athletic Department freshman seminar at a NCAA Division I university. Seminar sections were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: Web-based personalized feedback (WPF) or Web-based education (WE). Assessment measures were completed at baseline, 6 weeks, and 3 months. Athletes were classified as high-risk or low-risk drinkers based on baseline reports of binge drinking. Results indicated for high-risk athletes, students in the WPF condition reported significantly greater reductions in drinking and changes in beliefs about peer drinking than those in the WE condition. In addition, reductions in drinking were related to reductions in peer drinking estimates for athletes in the WPF group. Findings provide initial support for the efficacy of Web-based personalized feedback for reducing the quantity and frequency of heavy drinking in freshman intercollegiate athletes.
The Role of Repression in the Incidence of Ironic Errors
Tim Woodman and Paul A. Davis
The role of repression in the incidence of ironic errors was investigated on a golf task. Coping styles of novice golfers were determined using measures of cognitive anxiety and physiological arousal. Following baseline putts, participants (n = 58) performed a competition putt with the opportunity to win UK£50 (approx. US$100). Before completing the competition putt participants were instructed to “land the ball on the target, but be particularly careful not to over-shoot the target.” The distance the ball traveled past the hole formed the measure of ironic effects. Probing of the coping style × condition interaction, F(2, 41) = 6.53, p < .005, revealed that only the repressors incurred a significant increase in ironic error for the competition putt. This suggests that the act of repressing anxiety has a detrimental performance effect.