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Performance Enhancement for Ballroom Dancers: Psychological Perspectives

Patsy Tremayne and Debra A. Ballinger

Ballroom dance has resurfaced worldwide as a highly popular competitive sport and might be added to Olympic medal competition for the 2012 London Games. This resurgence presents opportunities for sport psychologists to provide psychological-skills and performance-enhancement training for ballroom dancers at all competitive levels. Few sport psychologists have the personal experience, expertise, or an adequate knowledge base about the competitive-ballroom-dance environment to provide meaningful intervention strategies for participants. This article was developed to provide initial guidance for sport psychology professionals interested in working in this environment. An overview of the competitive-dance and ballroom-dance environment, strategies used by dance couples for enhanced mental preparation before and during dance competitions, and excerpts from an interview with an Australian championship-level couple provide readers insight into performance-enhancement strategies for DanceSport.

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A Qualitative Exploration of Psychological-Skills Use in Coaches

Richard C. Thelwell, Neil J.V. Weston, Iain A. Greenlees, and Nicholas V. Hutchings

The current study examined whether, where, when, and for what purposes coaches use psychological skills. A total of 13 elite-level coaches completed a structured interview using open-ended questions to examine their use of self-talk, imagery, relaxation, and goal-setting skills. Data were analyzed via deductive content analysis and indicated self-talk and imagery to be cited more frequently than relaxation and goal setting throughout the interviews. In addition, some purposes for using each skill were specific to training or competition across each time frame (before, during, and after), whereas there were several purposes consistent across each environment. Although the findings suggest that coaches employ psychological skills, it is imperative that they become aware of what skills they require and what skills they possess if they are to maximize their use across their wide-ranging coaching roles.

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The Role of Parents in Tennis Success: Focus Group Interviews with Junior Coaches

Daniel Gould, Larry Lauer, Cristina Rolo, Caroline Jannes, and Nori Pennisi

This study was designed to investigate experienced coaches’ perceptions of the parent’s role in junior tennis and identify positive and negative parental behaviors and attitudes. Six focus groups were conducted with 24 coaches. Content analysis of coaches’ responses revealed that most parents were positive influences and espoused an appropriate perspective of tennis, emphasized child development, and were supportive. In contrast, a minority of parents were perceived as negative, demanding and overbearing, and exhibiting an outcome orientation. New findings included parents’ setting limits on tennis and emphasizing a child’s total development, as well as the identification of behaviors that represent parental overinvolvement and that negatively affect coaching. Results are discussed relative to sport-parenting literature, and practical implications are outlined.

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Youth Ice Hockey Coaches’ Perceptions of a Team-Building Intervention Program

Julie Newin, Gordon A. Bloom, and Todd M. Loughead

The purpose of the current study was to explain youth ice hockey coaches’ perceptions of the effectiveness of a team-building intervention program. Eight Peewee-level hockey coaches implemented the same team-building activities with their teams throughout the regular season. Data were gathered using 3 methods. Specifically, coaches answered questions on a pre- and post-intervention form after each team-building activity, coaches’ behaviors were observed by members of the research team, and each coach completed a semistructured exit interview after the completion of the regular season. Results highlighted the benefits of the team-building intervention program. Specifically, coaches felt athletes enjoyed this experience and improved or acquired a variety of important life skills and abilities. Coaches also felt that athletes bonded during activities and improved their abilities to work together as a group. Finally, coaches felt that their own personal communication skills improved.

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Volume 21 (2007): Issue 4 (Dec 2007)

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The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success: Tips from Peers and Profs

Cheryl Weiss

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The Development of a Culturally Appropriate Analogy for Implicit Motor Learning in a Chinese Population

Jamie M. Poolton, Richard S.W. Masters, and Jon P. Maxwell

Learning a motor skill by analogy can benefit performers because the movement that is developed has characteristics of implicit motor learning: namely, movement robustness under pressure and secondary task distraction and limited accrual of explicit knowledge (Liao & Masters, 2001). At an applied level the advantages are lost, however, if the heuristic that underpins the analogy conveys abstractions that are inappropriate for the indigenous culture. The aim of the current experiment was to redevelop Masters’s (2000) right-angled-triangle analogy to accommodate abstractions appropriate for Chinese learners. Novice Chinese participants learned to hit table tennis forehands with topspin using either a redeveloped, culturally appropriate analogy (analogy learning) or a set of 6 instructions relevant to hitting a topspin forehand in table tennis (explicit learning). Analogy learners accrued less explicit knowledge of the movements underlying their performance than explicit learners. In addition, a secondary task load disrupted the performance of explicit learners but not analogy learners. These findings indicate that a culturally relevant analogy can bring about implicit motor learning in a Chinese population.

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Enhancing the Evaluation of Effectiveness with Professional Judgment and Decision Making

Amanda Martindale and Dave Collins

On the basis of anecdotal evidence and media interest, the public profile of applied sport psychology is ever increasing in terms of its perceived impact on the performance of elite athletes and teams. In the profession, however, there is some concern over whether we are managing to concurrently match this pace empirically, through the evolution of scientific methods and mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of practice. This article considers requirements of the current evaluation climate and provides an overview of existing formal evaluation procedures. It is suggested that the evolving intricacies and complexities of applied sport psychology practice are neither fully captured nor represented by these procedures. Consequently, a framework of professional judgment and decision making (PJDM) is proposed from which to consider the evaluation of practice. In addition, methods and mechanisms for enhancing and building on our current evaluation procedures are offered.

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Essential Readings in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Diane Finley

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Flow Experience and Athletes’ Performance with Reference to the Orthogonal Model of Flow

Nektarios A. Stavrou, Susan A. Jackson, Yannis Zervas, and Konstantinos Karteroliotis

The purposes of the current study were to examine (a) the differences in Flow State Scale (FSS) subscales between the 4 experiential states of the orthogonal model (apathy, anxiety, relaxation, and flow), (b) the relationship between challenge, skills, and flow experience; and (c) the relationship between flow experience and athletes’ performance. Two hundred twenty athletes volunteered to participate in this study. Challenge of the game and skills of the athlete were measured before and after competition. Thirty minutes after the competition, the FSS was used to measure flow experience. In addition, subjective and objective measures of athletes’ performance were assessed. Athletes in the flow and relaxation states revealed the most optimal states, whereas the athletes in the apathy state showed the least optimal state. There were positive associations between athletes’ flow experience and their performance measures, indicating that positive emotional states are related to elevated levels of performance. On the other hand, there were low or no correlations between athletes’ performance and reported challenge of the game, whereas skills of the athlete were moderately correlated with flow. Multiple-regression analysis demonstrated significant prediction of athletes’ performance based on flow experience during competition. Future research should examine the relationship between flow, athletes’ performance, and additional dispositional and state variables.