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Caroline Wakefield and Dave Smith

Imagery is one of the most widely-researched topics in sport psychology. Recent research has been focused on how imagery works and how to apply it to have the greatest possible performance effect. However, the amount of imagery needed to produce optimal effects has been under-researched, particularly in relation to the PETTLEP model of imagery (Holmes & Collins, 2001). This study examined the effects of differing frequencies of PETTLEP imagery on bicep curl performance, using a single-case design. Following a baseline period, participants completed PETTLEP imagery 1×/week, 2×/week, or 3×/week in a counterbalanced pattern. Results indicated that PETTLEP imagery had a positive effect on performance. In addition, as the frequency of imagery increased, a larger performance effect was apparent. These results support the notion that PETTLEP imagery can lead to strength gains if performed at least 1× per week, but that completing imagery more frequently may be more effective.

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Dave Smith and Dave Collins

The aim of these two studies was to examine the application of Lang’s (1979, 1985) bioinformational theory to the mental practice (MP) of a strength task, the maximal voluntary contraction of the abductor digiti minimi, and the MP of a computerized barrier knockdown task. Study 1 divided 18 males into three groups: a physical practice (PP) group; a stimulus and response proposition mental practice (SRP) group; and a stimulus proposition mental practice (SP) group. Each participant either physically or mentally practiced 40 contractions twice a week for 3 weeks, and electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded during testing sessions. All three groups significantly increased abduction strength, but there were no significant between-group differences in the magnitude of the improvements. In addition, late contingent negative variation (CNV) waves were apparent prior to both real and imagined movements in all conditions. Study 2 allocated 24 participants to PP, SRP, SP, and control groups. Participants performed 120 imaginary or actual barrier knockdown trials, with EEGs recorded as in Study 1. A Group × Test ANOVA for movement time revealed that the PP and SRP groups improved to a significantly greater degree than the SP and control groups. Also, the late CNV was observed prior to real and imagined movement in the SRP group, but not prior to imagined movement in the SP group. These results support bioinformational theory with respect to cognitively oriented motor tasks, but not strength tasks.

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Martin Eubank, Dave Collins, and Nick Smith

In the presence of anxiety, threatening stimuli are allocated greater processing priority by high-trait-anxious individuals (Mathews, 1993). As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) might best account for individual differences, this investigation aimed to establish whether or not such processing priority is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators performed a modified Stroop test (Stroop, 1935) by reacting to neutral, positive, and negative word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4,80) = 3.95, p < .05, was evident, with facilitators exhibiting a processing bias toward positive words in positive mood conditions. The data support the contention that anxiety interpretation is an important distinguishing variable in accounting for processing bias and support the potential contribution of cognitive restructuring practices to athletic performance.

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Martin Eubank, Dave Collins, and Nick Smith

Beck’s (1976) theoretical account of emotional vulnerability predicts that individuals who are vulnerable to anxiety will exhibit a cognitive processing bias for the threatening interpretation of ambiguous information. As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) may best account for individual differences, the aim of this study was to establish whether such processing bias is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators underwent a modified Stroop test by reacting to neutral and ambiguous word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4, 60) = 3.02, p < .05, was evident, with the reaction time of facilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the positive mood condition and debilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the negative mood condition. The findings illustrate the important role that anxiety interpretation plays in the mechanism involved in the processing of ambiguous information.

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Rebecca Davies, Dave Smith, and Kevan Collier

This study examined the presence and experience of muscle dysmorphia among current and former steroid-using recreational bodybuilders. The Muscle Dysmorphia Inventory was given to 60 male participants, with 9 of these being interviewed to examine the predisposing factors, characteristics, and negative consequences of muscle dysmorphia comprising Lantz, Rhea, and Mayhew’s (2001) conceptual model. Quantitative results from the MDI data showed no significant differences between current and former steroid users in their experiences of muscle dysmorphia. In contrast, interviews suggested that former users appeared to be more susceptible to some of the characteristics of muscle dysmorphia, including physique protection and body distortion/dissatisfaction, which suggests perhaps a limitation in the amount of information that can be extracted from a questionnaire. These preliminary findings also raise concerns about the lack of a diagnostic tool available for the condition and are discussed in relation to Lantz et al.’s (2001) conceptual model.

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Dave Smith and Paul Holmes

This study examined the effect of various imagery modalities on golf putting performance. Forty experienced male golfers were randomly assigned to one of four groups. A “written script” group received a personalized, response proposition-laden script. Participants in the audio and video groups either listened to an audiotape or watched an internal-perspective videotape of themselves putting. Control participants spent an equivalent amount of time reading golf literature. Each participant completed a 15-ball putting task twice a week for 6 weeks and also performed his imagery or reading daily during this period. Pretests revealed no significant differences in performance. Posttests, however, showed that the video and audio groups performed significantly better than the written script and control groups. This indicates that the form in which an imagery intervention is delivered can have a significant impact on its performance effectiveness.

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Bruce Hale, Paul Holmes, Dave Smith, Neil Fowler, and Dave Collins

Several years ago Collins and Hale (1997) commented on nonrigorous experimental designs and procedures which typified published research examining the psychophysiology of the imagery process. Conceptual, methodological, and analytical guidelines were offered to improve the quality of future research undertakings. While Slade, Landers, and Martin (2002) have followed some of these suggestions, their recent imagery study examining the “mirror hypothesis” and a theory-expectancy hypothesis with EMG recordings still appears to have some conceptual inconsistencies, methodological flaws, and analytical weaknesses that make their conclusions ambiguous. These concerns are identified, and more suggestions for improved designs are given, in another attempt to improve the quality of the scientific research undertaken in sport psychophysiology.