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Covert Modeling as a Procedure for Altering an Elite Athlete’s Psychological State

Brent S. Rushall

This paper describes the steps taken to use covert modeling as a procedure to alter a problematic loss of confidence in an elite wrestler. The traditional steps of the procedure were modified to suit the client and situation. The then world champion was determined to be a phobic stimulus, as the client could not imagine himself performing successfully with the champion. The covert model at first incorporated the champion and a fictional model. After the determination of detailed appropriate behaviors for a high level of wrestling performance, the athlete modeled their occurrence. After familiarity with the procedure had been established, the wrestler was gradually substituted for the fictional character. He reported practicing modeling outside of consultation sessions and deemed the imagery successful after he had substituted himself as the model. Both the wrestler and his coach considered the procedure to be successful. Performances were markedly improved after the intervention. Covert modeling was proposed as being a viable method for eliminating fear, a loss of confidence, and negative self-appraisals in athletes.

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Effects of Three Types of Thought Content Instructions on Skiing Performance

Brent S. Rushall, Marty Hall, Laurent Roux, Jack Sasseville, and Amy C. Rushall

The purpose of this investigation was to assess the effects of instructions—to think particular types of thoughts—on the cross-country skiing performances of elite skiers. Eighteen members of the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team served as subjects. Instructions were given to plan and think particular types of thoughts while skiing, namely task-relevant statements, mood words, and positive self-statements. Performances on a standard test track under thought control conditions were compared to similar efforts under “normal” (control) thinking. Thirteen subjects also recorded heart rates at the completion of each trial. A balanced order design of two replications of each condition was employed in each of the three experiments. Sixteen subjects improved in all conditions whereas two subjects improved in only one condition. Heart rates were marginally higher and statistically significant in each experimental condition compared to the control condition. Performance improvements of more than 3% were registered under each thought content condition, even though all subjects reported that they were not aware of any effort differential. That performance improvements of this magnitude could be achieved in athletes of such a caliber indicates the value of attempts to use the particular forms of thoughts employed in this study for improving cross-country skiing performance.