Sport psychologists believe that contemporary sport’s pervasive preoccupation with winning may actually be responsible for athletes’ anxiety, motivation, and self-confidence problems. Winning is a goal that lacks the flexibility and control necessary for athletes to (a) achieve consistent success and (b) take credit for success. Martens and Burton (1982) concluded that performance goals (PGs) based on attaining personal performance standards offer the flexibility and control needed to develop high perceived ability and performance. Thus the purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to evaluate whether a goal setting training (GST) program could teach athletes to set appropriate PGs, and (b) to assess the impact of the GST program on the perceived ability, competitive cognitions, and performance of collegiate swimmers. A collegiate swim team (N=30) participated in a season-long GST program, and program effects were systematically evaluated with a multimethod approach using interteam, intrateam, and case study data. Interteam and case study data generally supported both predictions. Intrateam analyses revealed that high-accuracy GST swimmers demonstrated more optimal cognitions and performance than low-accuracy teammates, suggesting that goal setting skill mediated GST effectiveness.
Daniel Gould, Robert C. Eklund and Susan A. Jackson
This study involved extensive interviews with all 20 members of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team about their performances in the Seoul Olympics. Qualitative research methodology and analyses were employed to acquire and preserve rich representations of these experiences. Mental preparation strategies, precompetitive cognition, and affect were examined by having the wrestlers respond to a series of questions about their all-time best match, worst Olympic match, and most crucial Olympic match. Considerable consistency was found across wrestlers’ responses regarding all-time best and worst Olympic matches whereas striking differences were found between the best and worst matches. For example, before best matches, wrestlers followed mental preparation plans and routines and were extremely confident, totally focused, and optimally aroused. They also focused on clear tactical strategies. Before worst matches, wrestlers were not confident, had inappropriate feeling states and experienced many task-irrelevant and negative thoughts, and deviated from preparation plans. These results are consistent with other research with Olympic athletes and suggest that precompetitive states play a critical role in competitive performance.
Paul A. Davis, Louise Davis, Samuel Wills, Ralph Appleby and Arne Nieuwenhuys
dysfunctional cognitions and emotions ( Jones & Harwood, 2008 ; McPherson, 2000 ). In this process of evaluation, athletes may consider the emotional state of their fellow competitors and attempt to determine whether an opponent is in his or her optimal emotional state for performance ( Hanin, 2003 ). The
Fabrice Dosseville, Sylvain Laborde and Markus Raab
We studied the influence of contextual factors and the referees’ own motor experience on the quality of their perceptual judgments. The theoretical framework combined the social cognition approach with the embodied cognition, and enabled us to determine whether judgments were biased or not by using a combination of contextual and internal factors. Sixty fully-qualified and aspiring judo referees were tested in a video-based decision-making task in which they had to decide when to stop the ground contact phase. The decision task differed depending on whether one contestant dominated the other or whether they were equal in the prior phase. Results indicated that the referees’ motor experience influenced perceptual judgments and interacted with contextual factors, enhancing the need for a combination of social and embodied cognition to explain biases in referees’ judgments. Practical considerations were discussed in this paper, such as, whether referees need recent motor experience and how this could influence rules of governing bodies for officiating.
Simon Davies and John D. West
This article familiarizes sport psychologists, counselors, and coaches with the multimodal approach to enhancing the performance of college athletes. The seven modalities of behavior, affect, sensations, imagery, cognitions, interpersonal relations, and biological functioning are examined. An individualized modality profile for a collegiate soccer player with performance problems is generated. Various applied intervention techniques are suggested to facilitate performance enhancement.
Robert C. Eklund
In order to extend Gould, Eklund, and Jackson’s (1992a) investigation with 1988 U.S. Olympic wrestlers, Eklund (1994) reported results from a season-long investigation of cognition during performance among collegiate wrestlers. This manuscript expands the account of that season-long investigation by reporting precompetitive cognition and affect—the psychological experience immediately prior to match performance—associated with performance. Qualitative data were collected from 6 NCAA Division I wrestlers via indepth retrospective interviews regarding all-time best and worst performances within 2’days of 38 season matches. Observable patterns in the organization and content of precompetitive psychological experience were identified in high, moderate, and low quality performances and observations made regarding associations with the competitive psychological experience.
Patrick R. Thomas and Ray Over
Psychological and psychomotor skills associated with performance in golf were established through ratings provided by 165 men with golf handicaps ranging from 5 to 27. Several components of skilled performance in golf were identified through factor analysis of these ratings, followed by comparisons between lower handicap and higher handicap players. Skilled golfers (those with lower handicaps) reported greater mental preparation, a higher level of concentration when playing golf, fewer negative emotions and cognitions, greater psychomotor automaticity, and more commitment to golf. Three self-report assessment scales (measures of psychological skills and tactics, psychomotor skills, and golf involvement) were developed from the data. Contexts in which these scales can be used are discussed.
Jack A. G. Marlow and Mark Uphill
This study explored the characteristics, contextual factors and consequences of counterfactual thoughts in seven elite athletes using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Counterfactuals were experienced regularly with self-directed and upward counterfactuals (cognitions about how things could be better) being most frequent. These upward counterfactuals typically occurred following performance that was below participants’ goals and expectations. These thoughts were perceived by participants to have a negative affect initially, and that they then led to facilitative behavioral consequences around learning and development. Some elements of counterfactual thinking could be used as a useful reflective tool to encourage elite athletes to problem solve and motivate cognitive, emotional and behavioral change to enhance future performance.
František Man, Iva Stuchlíková and Pavel Kindlmann
Spielberger’s trait-state anxiety theory suggests that persons high in trait anxiety have a greater tendency to perceive an ego-involving situation as threatening, and hence, they are expected to respond to this situation with elevated state anxiety (A-state). To test this hypothesis measurements of A-trait (low vs. high) as a between-subjects factor, measurements of stress level (low vs. high) as a within-subjects factor, and measurements of state anxiety, cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, self-confidence, and cognitive interference as dependent variables were made on 45 top-level soccer players. Statistical analysis revealed a significant person-situation interaction only in self-confidence. The lack of sensitivity in the state anxiety scores can be ascribed to the fact that soccer players play important games regularly and so become desensitized to precompetitive anxiety responses. A subsequent multiple regression analysis showed that task irrelevant cognitions are correlated only with cognitive anxiety and not with either self-confidence or somatic anxiety.
Lawrence R. Brawley and Kathleen A. Martin
Over the past three decades, an interface has developed between sport and social psychology, characterized primarily by commonly utilized concepts and theories. The list of social psychological benefits to sport psychology is lengthy and includes theory, hypotheses, research paradigms, general independent and dependent variables, methods, and measures. In this paper, the following areas of sport research are used to illustrate the interface between sport and social psychology: (a) social facilitation and cohesion as two social influence phenomena, (b) anxiety and goal orientations as personality moderators of social behavior, and (c) self-efficacy beliefs and attitudes as social cognitions relevant to motivated behavior. Each of these areas are discussed in terms of social psychology’s impact on its development as a line of research in sport and in terms of the recent contributions each has made in return to social psychology. The general nature of the interface of social and sport psychology is also discussed.