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Sport Psychology Library - Bowling: The Handbook of Bowling Psychology

Christopher Mesagno

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Preshot Routines to Improve Competition Performance: A Case Study of a Group of Elite Pistol Shooters

Peter Gröpel, Christopher Mesagno, and Jürgen Beckmann

Evidence shows that using a preshot routine (PSR) improves performance in self-paced, closed-skill tasks. A PSR is a set of cognitive and behavioral elements an athlete systematically engages in prior to performance execution. The present study describes the implementation and evaluation of a PSR intervention with elite pistol shooters in the 10-m air-pistol discipline. Individualized PSRs were developed with the shooters in individual psychological sessions, and the PSRs were then practiced in subsequent training sessions. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated by analyzing the shooters’ competition performance. Overall, the shooters improved on average by 2.5 points from before to after the intervention. This improvement was unlikely due to seasonal effect, as the league average (scores of league shooters not included in the intervention sample) remained stable during the study time. These results indicate that using a PSR before a shooting series has benefits for subsequent shooting performance.

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A Pre-Performance Routine to Alleviate Choking in “Choking-Susceptible” Athletes

Christopher Mesagno, Daryl Marchant, and Tony Morris

“Choking under pressure” is a maladaptive response to performance pressure whereby choking models have been identified, yet, theory-matched interventions have not empirically tested. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether a preperformance routine (PPR) could reduce choking effects, based on the distraction model of choking. Three “choking-susceptible”, experienced participants were purposively sampled, from 88 participants, to complete ten-pin bowling deliveries in a single-case A1-B1-A2-B2 design (A phases = “low-pressure”; B phases = “high-pressure”), with an interview following the single-case design. Participants experienced “choking” in the B1 phase, which the interviews indicated was partially due to an increase in self-awareness (S-A). During the B2 phase, improved accuracy occurred when using the personalized PPR and, qualitatively, positive psychological outcomes included reduced S-A and decreased conscious processing. Using the personalized PPR produced adaptive and relevant, task-focused attention.

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Self-Presentation Origins of Choking: Evidence From Separate Pressure Manipulations

Christopher Mesagno, Jack T. Harvey, and Christopher M. Janelle

Whether self-presentation is involved in the choking process remains unknown. The purpose of the current study was to determine the role of self-presentation concerns on the frequency of choking within the context of a recently proposed self-presentation model. Experienced field hockey players (N = 45) were randomly assigned to one of five groups (i.e., performance-contingent monetary incentive, video camera placebo, video camera self-presentation, audience, or combined pressure), before taking penalty strokes in low- and high-pressure phases. Results indicated that groups exposed to self-presentation manipulations experienced choking, whereas those receiving motivational pressure treatments decreased anxiety and increased performance under pressure. Furthermore, cognitive state anxiety mediated the relationship between the self-presentation group and performance. These findings provide quantitative support for the proposed self-presentation model of choking, while also holding implications for anxiety manipulations in future sport psychology research.

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Activation of Self-Focus and Self-Presentation Traits Under Private, Mixed, and Public Pressure

Katharina Geukes, Christopher Mesagno, Stephanie J. Hanrahan, and Michael Kellmann

Trait activation theorists suggest that situational demands activate traits in (pressure) situations. In a comparison of situational demands of private (monetary incentive, cover story), mixed (monetary incentive, small audience), and public (large audience, video taping) high-pressure situations, we hypothesized that situational demands of private and mixed high-pressure conditions would activate self-focus traits and those of a public high-pressure condition would activate self-presentation traits. Female handball players (N = 120) completed personality questionnaires and then performed a throwing task in a low-pressure condition and one of three high-pressure conditions (n = 40). Increased anxiety levels from low to high pressure indicated successful pressure manipulations. A self-focus trait negatively predicted performance in private and mixed high-pressure conditions, and self-presentation traits positively predicted performance in the public high-pressure condition. Thus, pressure situations differed in their trait-activating situational demands. Experimental research investigating the trait–performance relationship should therefore use simulations of real competitions over laboratory-based scenarios.

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Australian Football Coaches’ Tales of Mental Toughness: Exploring the Sociocultural Roots

Stephanie J. Tibbert, Mark B. Andersen, Tony Morris, and Christopher Mesagno

The present study explored how three professional Australian football coaches learned and understood mental toughness. Participants shared stories regarding mental toughness through semistructured interviews. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to interpret the data. Creative nonfiction was employed to develop a composite story. All participants’ voices contributed equally to the narrative, which follows Sam (our composite coach) through three periods in his career: as a junior player, an elite footballer, and, finally, a coach in the professional football environment. Mental toughness was fundamentally determined by the sociocultural environment in which one was immersed. Athletes and coaches were expected to internalize dominant understandings of mental toughness and reinforce ideals and were punished if they deviated from mentally tough standards set up in their clubs. Mental toughness was defined by various values, beliefs, and norms that originated from the sociocultural environment, indicating the importance of context in understanding the roots of being mentally tough.

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Validation of a Follow-Through Developmental Sequence for the Overarm Throw for Force in University Students

Bradley Beseler, Christopher Mesagno, Michael Spittle, Nicola F. Johnson, Jack Harvey, Scott Talpey, and Mandy S. Plumb

Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the follow-through on thrown ball velocity, potentially justifying inclusion of the follow-through in Roberton’s five critical components. Method: Seventy-eight University students participated in the overarm, dominant hand, throwing task, which involved throwing a standard tennis ball with maximum force three times. Each throw was filmed by two cameras placed behind and to the open side of the thrower to assess the throwing technique. The velocity of the throws was recorded with a radar gun. Results: Results indicated that, after accounting for the effects of gender, age, and throwing experience, there was a significant effect of follow-through level on throw velocity. Analysis of covariance also revealed a significant gender effect, with males throwing significantly faster than females. Results indicated the follow-through had the second largest impact on thrown ball velocity of all six components. Discussion: These findings provide preliminary support that the follow-through should be added to Roberton’s developmental levels. The inclusion of the follow-through component could assist teachers and coaches to facilitate learner and athlete development and could also improve the accuracy of throwing development assessment.