Laboratory research in motor behavior has consistently demonstrated higher transfer when practice occurs under conditions of high contextual interference/variety (e.g., Lee & Magill, 1983; Shea & Morgan, 1979). In the present study, an attempt was made to determine whether contextual variety could be easily incorporated into a physical education class setting and whether it produced a significant influence on final skills-test performance. Four practice schedules differing in the amount of contextual variety were administered during a regular college physical education class. Beginning badminton students were matched for skill level and practiced the long and short serves according to their respective conditions at the beginning of each of six class periods. Students monitored each other’s practice sessions without significant alterations in normal class procedures. Conventional skills tests administered at the end of the semester revealed that the shortserve performance of the group receiving the highest level of contextual variety during practice was significantly superior to that of two of the other three conditions. The results are discussed in terms of possible theoretical significance for contextual-interference theory and practical relevance for physical education teachers.
Craig A. Wrisberg
Duncan Simpson and Craig Wrisberg
Given the relatively little attention devoted to the study of combat sports in the sport psychology literature, the aim of this investigation was to obtain additional insight into the life and world of professional boxers, particularly with respect to their experiences of training for fights. Existential phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine professional British boxers ranging in age from 22 to 42 years. Qualitative analysis of the transcripts revealed a total of 341 meaning units, which were further grouped into higher order themes. A final thematic structure revealed six major dimensions that characterized participants’ training experience: Achieving Potential, Preparing, Sacrificing, Finding Support, Fearing, and Loving/Hating. The results offer a number of insights for sport psychology researchers and practical implications for boxers, trainers, and sport psychology consultants.
Craig A. Wrisberg
Craig A. Wrisberg and Johannes Raabe
This case study depicts the approach taken by a sport psychology consultant who worked with an elite college football place kicker from the beginning of the individual’s freshman year to the end of his senior competitive season. The player expressed an interest in adding mental training to his conventional practice habits to manage the mental and emotional demands he expected to face throughout his career at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level. The consultant used an approach rooted in the philosophy of existential phenomenology, referred to as phenomenological consulting. The effectiveness of interventions was determined by the player’s description of his experience and reflections of the consultant. The present study represents an example of the benefits athletes might derive from a phenomenological approach to long-term performance consulting.
Craig A. Wrisberg and Mark H. Anshel
This study examined the relative effectiveness of various cognitive techniques on the basketball free throw shooting performance of young athletes. Forty boys (ages 10.2–12.4 years) who were subjectively rated as good free throw shooters by staff members at a 6-week summer sports camp were randomly assigned to one of four training conditions. All initially performed 20 baseline trials of the free throw shot with a 45-sec intershot interval. After the last baseline trial the boys in each group received instructions and practiced their respective preshot techniques. The next day they received a second instructional period followed by a series of 10 free throws. During the last 15 seconds of the 45-sec intershot interval on these trials, subjects engaged in their respective preshot activity. An analysis of covariance was used to determine group differences in free throw percentage during the test trials, with free throw percentage during baseline trials used as the covariate. The results suggested that mental imagery combined with arousal adjustment is a useful preshot cognitive strategy that young athletes may use to enhance their free throw shooting performance.
Craig A. Wrisberg and Richard L. Pein
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between preperformance behavior and performance accuracy within the context of a competitive sporting event. Data were collected during varsity and intramural basketball games at a NCAA Division I university. The measures included length of the preshot interval and the number of free throws attempted and made by each player. From these data, the mean and within-subject standard deviation of preshot interval scores and free throw percentages were derived, and pairwise correlations among the measures were calculated. One-way MANOVA tests were performed to determine whether selected individual-difference and situational variables significantly influenced any of the measures. Of primary importance was the finding of a significant negative correlation between standard deviation of preshot interval and free throw percentage, indicating that higher percentage shooters maintained a higher level of temporal consistency in executing their preshot routines than did lower percentage shooters. Implications for the use of preshot interval data in research and intervention by sport psychology consultants are discussed.
Mark H. Anshel and Craig A. Wrisberg
In the present study an attempt was made to determine the relative effectiveness of various warm-up activities in eliminating postrest warm-up decrement (WUD) in the tennis serve. Seventy highly-skilled players hit 20 serves, rested for either 5 or 15 min, and then attempted 4 final serves. During the last 2 min of the rest period, players continued to rest, ran in place, engaged in mental imagery, performed practice swings, or repeatedly hit the ball against the ground and caught it. In addition to estimates of serving accuracy, measures of somatic and cognitive arousal were obtained at the beginning and end of the rest interval. Multiple regression procedures revealed that reductions in WUD were significantly related to the restoration of prerest arousal levels. Between-group comparisons indicated that practice swings were the most effective warm-up activity for restoring somatic and cognitive arousal to prerest levels and for eliminating WUD. Theoretical discussion centered on possible applications of Nacson and Schmidt's (1971) activity-set hypothesis to the tennis serve.