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Assessment of Performance-Related Experiences: An Individualized Approach

Montse C. Ruiz, Yuri Hanin, and Claudio Robazza

In this investigation we describe an individualized approach in the assessment of athletes’ experiences associated with successful and poor performances. Two studies were conducted to develop a profiling procedure to assess eight modalities of performance-related states. In Study 1, six high-level athletes assessed their states before most successful and unsuccessful performances using a preliminary 71-item stimulus list developed by a panel of four emotion researchers. They also rated the intensity of their states on a modified Borg’s CR-10 scale. In Study 2, five top-level divers assessed their states before multiple dives (three successful and three unsuccessful) using a revised 74-item list. The perceived impact on performance was also examined using an open-ended question. Individual profiles reflected two typical curves discriminating successful and unsuccessful performances. High individual variability in item content and intensity was found. Athletes reported a wide range of interrelated experiences associated with their performances. Our findings support the practical utility of individualized profiling to assess athletes’ performance-related states.

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Transitioning Out of Professional Sport: The Psychosocial Impact of Career-Ending Injuries Among Elite Irish Rugby Football Union Players

Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Diarmuid Hurley, and Montse C. Ruiz

This study documented the lived career-ending injury experiences among elite Irish rugby football union (IRFU) players. Three players took part in semistructured one-on-one interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, 1996) revealed that the process of psychosocial injury rehabilitation and the subsequent transition process was for the most part a distressing one and evolved in a cyclical, yet stage-like (Heil, 1994), manner. The nature of the postinjury career transition appeared to be dependent on the interactional balance of participants’ psychosocial responses to injury, existing coping mechanisms, and other factors related to the injury and career transition process. Appropriate social support network, use of sport medicine and counseling professionals, as well as organizational officials are needed to best prepare elite rugby players for life outside of sport, and to ensure a healthy career transition (Taylor & Ogilvie, 1994) out of sport.

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The Effects of Instructional Self-Talk on Quiet-Eye Duration and Golf-Putting Performance

Yonatan Sarig, Montse C. Ruiz, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, and Gershon Tenenbaum

While the impact of strategic self-talk on performance is well documented, examination of the attentional–perceptual mechanisms of self-talk is still at early stages. This study’s aim was to examine the effects of instructional self-talk on quiet-eye durations and putting performance. Thirty participants were recruited and randomly assigned to self-talk or control conditions. Participants performed a golf-putting task in a mixed between (self-talk vs. control) and within (pre- vs. postintervention) design. Two 2 × 2 mixed-design analyses of variance were conducted for performance and quiet-eye durations as dependent variables. A mediation analysis was conducted to examine the mediating effect of quiet-eye durations on performance. Results showed that self-talk use led to longer quiet-eye durations and better performance compared with controls. The mediation analysis indicated that performance was mediated by quiet-eye durations. Discussion centers on the role of quiet-eye in motor performance and how self-talk can assist in regulating quiet-eye.

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Regulating Preperformance Psychobiosocial States with Music

Thierry R.F. Middleton, Montse C. Ruiz, and Claudio Robazza

The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of music on swimmers’ preperformance psychobiosocial states. A purposeful sample of competitive swimmers (N = 17) participated in a 5-week intervention grounded in the individual zones of optimal functioning (IZOF) model. Findings showed that (a) preperformance psychobiosocial states differentiated between best and worst performances, (b) swimmers improved their ability to regulate preperformance states through the use of music, and (c) the use of music had a positive impact on swimmers’ perceived effectiveness of preperformance routines. Furthermore, swimmers’ qualitative reports indicated that music use was made more purposeful due to the introduction of a music intervention. The current study provides preliminary evidence in support of the use of music during preperformance routines as an effective tool to regulate athletes’ preperformance states. Athletes are encouraged to engage in the process of carefully selecting music in accordance with individualized profiles related to optimal performance states.

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Coaches’ Perceptions of Athletes’ Psychobiosocial States: The Case of Three Tennis Coach-Athlete Dyads

Stephanie Mueller, Montse C. Ruiz, and Stiliani Ani Chroni

Considering the limited attention paid to interpersonal aspects of emotions, this study explored coaches’ perceptions of athletes’ performance-related states and how they used this information for its regulation. Using a case study approach, three coach-athlete dyads from competitive tennis took part in one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Individualized profiling of psychobiosocial states was used to assess athletes’ states in most and least successful performances and as a way of data triangulation. Findings indicated that the coaches paid attention to bodily, motor-behavioural, and operational components of a performance state, and used this information to appropriately adapt their responses to the players’ needs, via the provision of positive reinforcement, and performance-related feedback. The coaches described themselves as calm, patient, and understanding; characteristics that appeared to be vital for the coach-athlete relationship and the coaches’ emotional competence. Findings are discussed within the contexts of emotion regulation and coach-athlete relationship, and how they might be useful to help coaches develop emotional competence.