There is a shortage of evidence regarding exactly how mental imagery works to enhance performance. This study sought to determine whether it is the imagining of the task that is crucial or simply the positive aspects of a mental image. In the first experiment, 52 male students used task relevant imagery, task irrelevant imagery, or a distraction control procedure before performing an analogue task. Those in the task relevant condition showed significantly greater improvements over baseline. The second experiment involved 142 male students and included assessment of mood state following psyching up. Again the task relevant group showed significantly greater improvements, which were not related to mood states. These findings suggest that the specific content of mental imagery is crucial in determining its effect on performance. The effect does not appear to depend on alterations of mood state and may operate through cognitive preparation.
The prediction of sporting performance is clearly important to athletes and coaches. It has been suggested (Bandura, 1977) that one's expectations are more important predictors of behavior than is previous behavior. Evidence to support this covers a number of tasks, including physical strength and sporting activities. The present study, involving 14 girl gymnasts, examines the accuracy of athletes' expectations, their coach's expectations, and their previous competition scores as predictors of competition performance. Athletes' expectations are found to be more accurate estimates than are previous scores, while coach's expectations are more accurate still. A person's expectations seem to be important variables even in sports requiring a high degree of physical skill, and this finding has important implications for sport psychology.
Matthew Smith and Christina Lee
This study examined the facilitatory effect of goal setting in physical performance. Three potential mechanisms that may mediate this effect are described: increases in time spent practicing, promotion of effective training strategies, and increases in commitment resulting from public goal setting. Students (N=51) performed a novel task under one of three conditions: public goal setting, private goal setting, and no goal setting. Goals selected, time spent practicing, strategies used during practice, and actual performance were assessed. Subjects in the two goal-setting groups showed better performance than those in the control-group; those in the public goal-setting group spent the most time in practice, but this was not reflected in better performance. Test performance was predicted by baseline performance and by the goal set; practice time, training strategy, and public goal setting did not account for further variance in performance. Although this study failed to find a mediating effect for these three mechanisms, the results must be interpreted with caution.
Neville Owen, Lucio Naccarella, Christina Lee and Kevin Haag
Regular, vigorous physical activity (aerobic exercise) appears to have significant benefits in preventing disease, but exercise levels continue to be low in spite of the wide availability of intensive fitness programs. Self-instructional behavior-change packages can reach more people than face-to-face methods, and can address a range of problem behaviors. This study investigated the effectiveness of a self-instructional training program for aerobic exercise. Participants were allocated randomly to an exercise correspondence course involving several mailings of information (n=53), or to exactly the same program mailed in a single package (n=52). People who initially showed interest in the course but withdrew before it began (n=33), and participants in standard fitness classes (n=31), were used as comparison groups. All courses were 12-week aerobic programs of gradually increasing intensity. At the end of the program, participants in the single-package course were significantly more active than those in the multiple-mailing program, and were similar to those in the fitness class. At a 10-month follow-up, there were no significant differences among the reported physical activity levels of participants in the four different conditions. Despite the somewhat weak effects obtained in this investigation, programs that can be administered by mail can reach large numbers of people who may wish to change health-related behaviors.
Wing-Kai Lam, Winson Chiu-Chun Lee, Wei Min Lee, Christina Zong-Hao Ma and Pui Wah Kong
This study examined the effects of shoes’ segmented forefoot stiffness on athletic performance and ankle and metatarsophalangeal joint kinematics and kinetics in basketball movements. Seventeen university basketball players performed running vertical jumps and 5-m sprints at maximum effort with 3 basketball shoes of various forefoot plate conditions (medial plate, medial + lateral plates, and no-plate control). One-way repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine the differences in athletic performance, joint kinematics, and joint kinetics among the 3 footwear conditions (α = .05). Results indicated that participants wearing medial + lateral plates shoes demonstrated 2.9% higher jump height than those wearing control shoes (P = .02), but there was no significant differences between medial plate and control shoes (P > .05). Medial plate shoes produced greater maximum plantar flexion velocity than the medial + lateral plates shoes (P < .05) during sprinting. There were no significant differences in sprint time. These findings implied that inserting plates spanning both the medial and lateral aspects of the forefoot could enhance jumping, but not sprinting performances. The use of a medial plate alone, although induced greater plantar flexion velocity at the metatarsophalangeal joint during sprinting, was not effective in improving jump heights or sprint times.
Mustafa M.O. Elhadi, Christina Z. Ma, Duo W.C. Wong, Anson H.P. Wan and Winson C.C. Lee
Many older adults do not adhere to the recommended physical activity levels. This study examines the gait changes upon long-distance walking among healthy older adults. Gait tests of 24 adults aged 65 or more were conducted at baseline and at the end of 30 and 60 min of treadmill walking. Spatial temporal, kinematic, and kinetic gait data were computed. Perceived level of exertion was evaluated for each subject. Ten subjects (group B) perceived higher exertion levels than the remaining 14 subjects (group A). After walking, group B had significant reductions in dominant-side ankle joint range of motion and power, suggesting lower-leg muscle fatigue, which appeared to be compensated by significantly increased nondominant-side knee and hip motions. These changes were not observed in group A. Differences in gait parameters between groups A and B implied that some biomechanical factors might contribute to the lack of walking of some older adults.