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Kieran M. Kingston and Lew Hardy

Empirical studies attesting to the effectiveness of goal setting in sport have been plagued by equivocation. Inconsistencies may relate to task/goal complexity and the types of goals that participants are asked to use (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996). This study addresses the second of these issues by examining the relative efficacy of two types of goal-setting training program that differ according to their primary focus. Thirty-seven club golfers completed the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 on three occasions at important competitions and the Sport Psychology Skills Questionnaire prior to, and following, the intervention. Two-factor (Group × Test) ANOVAs revealed a significant interaction (p < .05) for ability, indicating significant improvements from Test 1 to Test 2 for the process-oriented group, and between Test 1 and Test 3. The significant interactions (p < .05) for self-efficacy, cognitive anxiety control, and concentration provide further evidence for the positive impact of process goals in competitive situations.

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Kieran Kingston, Andrew Lane and Owen Thomas

This study examined temporal changes in sources of sport-confidence during the build up to an important competition. Elite individual athletes (N = 54) completed the Sources of Sport-Confidence Questionnaire (SSCQ) at five precompetition phases (6 weeks, 4 weeks, 3 weeks, 2 weeks and 1 week before competition). A two-factor (gender x time-to-competition) MANOVA revealed no significant interactions, but highlighted both time-to-competition and gender main effects. Time-to-competition main effects indicated the importance placed upon demonstration of ability, physical/mental preparation, physical self-presentation and situational favorableness sources of sport-confidence changed during the precompetition phase. Gender main effects revealed that female athletes demonstrated a significantly greater reliance on sources associated with mastery, physical self-presentation, social support, environmental comfort and coach’s leadership than male athletes. These findings emphasize the benefit of considering sources of sport-confidence as competition approaches; they may have implications for the design and timing of confidence based interventions.

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Tara Edwards, Lew Hardy, Kieran Kingston and Dan Gould

Structured in-depth interviews explored the catastrophic experiences of eight elite performers. Participants responded to questions concerning an event in which they felt they had experienced an uncharacteristic but very noticeable drop in their performance, a “performance catastrophe.” Inductive and deductive analyses were employed to provide a clear representation of the data. This paper reports on how the dimensions emerging from the hierarchical content analysis changed from prior to the catastrophic drop in performance, during the drop, and after the drop (in terms of any recovery). Two emerging higher order dimensions, “sudden, substantial drop in performance” and “performance continued to deteriorate” provide support for one of the fundamental underpinnings of the catastrophe model (Hardy, 1990, 1996a, 1996b); that is, performance decrements do not follow a smooth and continuous path. The paper examines the implications of the findings with respect to applied practice and future research.