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Daniel M. Landers

It is maintained that a balance among theory testing, applied research, and dissemination, though an ideal goal for sport psychology, is not being achieved because theory testing has not kept pace. To explain the rise and decline of theory testing in sport psychology a historical perspective was used. Whereas sport psychology from 1950-1965 was characterized by empiricism, from 1966-1976 it was characterized by a social analysis approach used to test single theories with novel tasks in a laboratory setting. In contrast to the earlier approaches, it is recommended that contemporary sport psychologists (a) use more meta-analyses to recheck the conclusions of past reviews, (b) become less reliant on a single research method or setting, (c) avoid premature commitments to a theory, and (d) become less enamored with statistically based null hypothesis testing. A number of suggestions are offered and examples provided to encourage, where appropriate, the use of “strong inference,” a more eclectic employment of research methods and settings as well as statistical techniques to determine the strength of observed relationships.

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Daniel M. Landers

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Daniel M. Landers

From 1950 to 1980, the field of sport psychology made significant strides. The developments were so rapid and so profound that this period can be called the “formative” years of the field. There was a tremendous expansion of the sport psychology literature, some of which constituted sustained contributions on a single research topic. Several textbooks and specialty books were published during this time period. Sport psychology journal articles expanded so much that journals devoted entirely to sport psychology research were created. The first graduate programs and research societies that focused more directly on sport psychology were also established. Applied sport psychology techniques, such as relaxation, imagery, and concentration training, were developed and made available to athletes. In addition to providing a description of the above-mentioned developments, some insights into dominant research methodology trends will be presented for the time periods of 1950 to 1965 and from 1966 to 1980.

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Jennifer L. Etnier and Daniel M. Landers

The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences in performance on fluid and crystallized intelligence tasks as a function of age and fitness. A secondary purpose was to examine the influence of age and fitness on the beneficial effects that practice has on both performance and retention on these tasks. Fitness was assessed in 41 older and 42 younger participants who were then randomly assigned to either experimental or control conditions. Participants performed repeated trials on two cognitive tasks during acquisition and retention, with the experimental group practicing for 100 trials and the control group practicing for 20 trials. Older participants performed better than younger participants on the crystallized intelligence task: however, younger participants performed better than older participants on the fluid intelligence task. On the fluid intelligence task, older fit participants performed better than older unfit participants. Learning did occur on the fluid task and differed as a function of age and fitness. Learning did not occur on the crystallized task.

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Frederick S. Daniels and Daniel M. Landers

This study investigated heart rate (HE) and respiration functioning during rifle shooting to test hypotheses derived from Schwartz's (1979) systems and disregulation theory, and to compare biofeedback with verbal instruction in developing awareness and control of autonomic patterns. Male subjects (N = 8) were pretested to determine HE and respiration patterns affecting performance. They were then divided into two equal groups and given either auditory biofeedback or verbal instruction. The auditory-biofeedback group received continuous pattern feedback through earphones while the verbal instruction group received only presession instruction without feedback. Each group trained for five sessions of 40 shots each. Following training, two 40-shot sessions were conducted. A scaled interview was administered pre- and posttraining to determine awareness/control of autonomic functioning. Compared to the verbal instruction group, the results showed that the biofeedback group significantly improved performance and consistency of the desired pattern and had significantly greater awareness/control of the autonomic pattern. The results supported the systems and disregulation theory as well as the viability of biofeedback for altering imbalances within the systems.

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Jennifer L. Etnier and Daniel M. Landers

Despite evidence that mental practice (MP) improves performance (Feltz & Landers, 1983), the parameters that define the MP period have not been systematically examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the order of presentation of MP and physical practice (PP) and of the duration of MP on subsequent performance. Subjects (N = 153) were randomly assigned to 1 of 9 groups that consisted of a control group (3-min PP) and 8 groups composed of either 1-, 3-, 5-, or 7-min MP, with 3-min PP. 4 of these groups performed MP first and the other 4 performed PP first. Subjects performed a 3-min basketball shooting task for Trial 1, practiced, performed Trial 2, practiced, and performed Trial 3. Results indicated that the order of presentation of MP and PP significantly impacted performance, such that groups who received MP first improved more than did PP-first groups. The duration of the MP period also impacted performance, such that groups who received 1 min or 3 min of MP improved more than the control group or groups who received 5 min or 7 min of MP.

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Karen J. Tropp and Daniel M. Landers

This study quantified the interaction channels used by intercollegiate field hockey teams and compared these to Bavelas' centrality index and the emergence of leadership/interpersonal attraction. Interaction frequencies, defined as passes to teammates, were determined for each playing position for three teams (N = 37) using 4-3-2-1-1, 5-3-2-1, and 4-2-3-1-1 structural systems. Members of four teams for each system (N = 177) then rated each teammate on leadership and attraction. Analyses of variance showed leadership and attraction differences among low, moderate, and high interactors (p < .05), but these differences disappeared when goalies were eliminated from the analysis. Thus, high-interaction frequencies were not indicative of high leadership and attraction ratings. Only “leadership,” “years on the varsity,” and “attraction” were found to discriminate between captain and noncaptains. The results suggest that for highly dynamic tasks functional centrality and task independency are perhaps more important factors than spatial centrality and high interaction.

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Deborah L. Feltz and Daniel M. Landers

A longstanding research question in the sport psychology literature has been whether a given amount of mental practice prior to performing a motor skill will enhance one's subsequent performance. The research literature, however, has not provided any clear-cut answers to this question and this has prompted the present, more comprehensive review of existing research using the meta-analytic strategy proposed by Glass (1977). From the 60 studies yielding 146 effect sizes the overall average effect size was .48, which suggests, as did Richardson (1967a), that mentally practicing a motor skill influences performance somewhat better than no practice at all. Effect sizes were also compared on a number of variables thought to moderate the effects of mental practice. Results from these comparisons indicated that studies employing cognitive tasks had larger average effect sizes than motor or strength tasks and that published studies had larger average effect sizes than unpublished studies. These findings are discussed in relation to several existing explanations for mental practice and four theoretical propositions are advanced.

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L. Blaine Kyllo and Daniel M. Landers

Although the motivational technique of goal setting has consistently and reliably improved performance in industrial psychology research, this beneficial effect has not been clearly demonstrated in the sport domain. The many proposed explanations for this discrepancy have resulted in a controversy in the literature. However, scientists have overlooked the importance of statistical power. A meta-analytic review of the literature investigating the effects of goal setting on performance in sport and exercise could help to clarify the state of knowledge. The meta-analytic procedures described by Hedges and Olkin (1985) were used to statistically combine 36 studies identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Results indicate that, overall, setting goals improves sport by 0.34 of a standard deviation. Moderate, absolute, and combined short- and long-term goals were associated with the greatest effects. Additional moderator variables were identified, and the extent to which they alter the goal setting–performance relationship is discussed.