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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum

This paper attempts to demonstrate the interdependence of research and theorizing on self-regulation and sport psychology. The process of maximizing sport performance was conceptualized as a self-regulatory problem. A five-stage model of self-regulation was presented to show the usefulness of this perspective. In particular, the model of self-regulation applied to this problem indicates that athletes should: specify their goals, establish commitments to change, manage their physical and social environments to facilitate pursuit of goals, execute the components of self-regulation to achieve goals (self-monitor, self-evaluate, self-consequate), and attempt to generalize changes achieved via the development of obsessive-compulsive styles of self-regulation. Recent findings in the self-regulation literature were reviewed to show how this conceptualization should be refined. Several applications in sport psychology were then described. This analysis supports the conclusion that (a) sport psychology provides an excellent medium for testing principles of self-regulation, and conversely, (b) self-regulatory models and principles can lead to effective interventions in sport psychology.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum and Robert J. Smith

In this study, experimenters (pseudo-coaches) provided feedback that varied in valence, sequence, and amount to 50 male college students. A laboratory analogue paradigm was used that included a basketball-like underhand free throw task in which subjects first were instructed on proper technique and then took 10 baseline shots (trials) followed by 2 blocks of 20 trials each. Subjects were randomly assigned. Some interacted with a pseudo-coach who made no comments during the two experimental trial blocks (control), while others received feedback (6-8 comments per trial block) that was response-specific, emotionally oriented, and provided in one of four sequences: positive-positive, negative-negative, positive-negative, or negative-positive. Based on prior research on coach behavior and social psychological studies of interpersonal behavior, we hypothesized that both of the continuous feedback groups would show performance decrements and associated reactions to the coach and the task. These predictions were supported regarding performance and, to some extent, regarding a measure of sustained self-observation. Discussion includes interpretation of the nominally superior performance of the control group, the nonsignificant results on the subjective evaluation measures, and implications of these findings in view of external validity criteria and prior analyses in the emerging behavioral technology of coaching.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, DeDe Owens and Edmund A. O’Connor

Smart Golf is a comprehensive approach to improving and scoring the mental game in golf. The five components are preparation, positive focusing (positive self-monitoring), plan, apply, and react. The acronym PAR summarizes the latter three components. A simple scoring system encourages golfers to self-monitor their use of the Smart Golf approach. In this preliminary evaluation of the efficacy of the approach, five experienced golfers (M years of playing = 17.8) participated in a 4-week seminar. Process measures indicated the extent to which participants used the approach. Outcome measures included golf scores at pre- and postintervention and at a 3-month follow-up. Psychological skills were also assessed at pre- and postintervention. Process analyses revealed that participants used the approach consistently during the seminar and follow-up period. All participants improved two critical psychological skills (emotional control and positive self-talk) as well as their average scores (at postintervention) and handicaps (at follow-up).

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, William D. Parham and Shane M. Murphy

Sport psychology services were provided at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival. A consultation model was employed that included aspects of the traditional medical model and a more proactive preventive approach. Consultations were delivered using a “professional/clinical” style (i.e., emphasis on expertness, empathy, warmth, and congruence). Two sport psychologists provided 85 formal consultations to more than 300 athletes, coaches, staff members, and others from 16 different sports. Process and outcome evaluations suggested that these services were very well received. Eleven recommendations are provided for delivery of sport psychology services at future Olympic events.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, David A. Wittrock, Robert J. Smith and William Monson

We propose that training athletes to use certain cognitive-behavioral procedures, “criticism inoculation training” (CIT), could enable them to circumvent the adverse effects of excessively negativistic coaching. This experiment evaluated the efficacy of one potential CIT strategy, positive self-monitoring (systematically observing and recording instances of success). A laboratory paradigm was used in which 60 male college students attempted to learn the underhand free throw basketball technique from one of four undergraduate pseudocoaches. Subjects were randomly assigned to four groups determined by a 2 (negative vs. no feedback) × 2 (positive vs. no self-monitoring) factorial design. Negative feedback was expected to debilitate, while positive self-monitoring was expected to facilitate performance, sustained self-observation of videotapes of performance, and subjective evaluations of the “coach” and the technique. Negative feedback clearly produced extensive adverse effects, but surprisingly, positive self-monitoring also decreased performance. Theories of skilled motor behavior (MacKay, 1982) and self-regulation (Carver, 1979) helped explain why positive self-monitoring failed as a CIT procedure. This interpretation which focuses on the novelty of the task and the development of negative expectancies also led to suggestions of strategies that could more effectively fulfill the promise of the CIT concept.