The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of competitive level on athletes’ use of imagery in the off-season and to examine whether their use of imagery was related to their physical and technical preparation. A total of 324 athletes completed a modified version of the Sport Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ; Hall, Mack, Paivio, & Hausenblas, 1998) that was designed to reflect an athletes’ use of imagery in the off-season. MANOVAs indicated that competitive level differences existed in athletes’ use of imagery in the offseason as well as in their use of physical and technical preparation for the upcoming season. More specifically, provincial and national level athletes engaged in significantly more imagery, regardless of the function, and physical and technical preparation than regional level athletes. In addition, bivariate correlations indicated that the more physical and technical preparation athletes engage in during the off-season, the more imagery they use.
Athletes’ Use of Imagery in the Off-Season
Jennifer Cumming and Craig Hall
Measuring Athlete Imagery Ability: The Sport Imagery Ability Questionnaire
Sarah E. Williams and Jennifer Cumming
This research aimed to develop and provide initial validation of the Sport Imagery Ability Questionnaire (SIAQ). The SIAQ assesses athletes’ ease of imaging different types of imagery content. Following an extensive pilot study, 375 athletes completed a 20-item SIAQ in Study 1. Exploratory factor analysis revealed a 4-factor model assessing skill, strategy, goal, and affect imagery ability. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) established this 4-factor structure in Study 2 (N = 363 athletes). In Study 3 (N = 438 athletes), additional items were added to create a fifth mastery imagery subscale that was confirmed through CFA. Study 4 (N = 220 athletes) compared the SIAQ to the Movement Imagery Questionnaire-3. Significant bivariate correlations (p < .05) confirmed the SIAQ’s concurrent validity but demonstrated differences in imagery ability of different content. Overall, the SIAQ demonstrates good factorial validity, internal and temporal reliability, invariance across gender, and an ability to distinguish among athletes of different competitive levels. Findings highlight the importance of separately assessing imagery ability of different content.
Self-Reported Psychological States and Physiological Responses to Different Types of Motivational General Imagery
Jennifer Cumming, Tom Olphin, and Michelle Law
The aim of the present study was to examine self-reported psychological states and physiological responses (heart rate) experienced during different motivational general imagery scenarios. Forty competitive athletes wore a standard heart rate monitor and imaged five scripts (mastery, coping, anxiety, psyching up, and relaxation). Following each script, they reported their state anxiety and self-confidence. A significant increase in heart rate from baseline to imagery was found for the anxiety, psyching-up, and coping imagery scripts. Furthermore, the intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety was greater and perceived as being more debilitative following the anxiety imagery script. The findings support Lang’s (1977, 1979) proposal that images containing response propositions will produce a physiological response (i.e., increase heart rate). Moreover, coping imagery enabled the athletes to simultaneously experience elevated levels of anxiety intensity and thoughts and feelings they perceived as helpful.
More than Meets the Eye: Investigating Imagery Type, Direction, and Outcome
Sanna M. Nordin and Jennifer Cumming
The effects of imagery direction on self-efficacy and performance in a dart throwing task were examined. Two imagery types were investigated: skill-based cognitive specific (CS) and confidence-based motivational general-mastery (MG-M). Seventy-five novice dart throwers were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: (a) facilitative imagery, (b) debilitative imagery, or (c) control. After 2 imagery interventions, the debilitative imagery group rated their self-efficacy significantly lower than the facilitative group and performed significantly worse than either the facilitative group or the control group. Efficacy ratings remained constant across trials for the facilitative group, but decreased significantly for both the control group and the debilitative group. Performance remained constant for the facilitative and the control groups but decreased significantly for the debilitative group. Similar to Short et al. (2002), our results indicate that both CS and MG-M imagery can affect self-efficacy and performance.
Professional Dancers Describe Their Imagery: Where, When, What, Why, and How
Sanna M. Nordin and Jennifer Cumming
In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 male and female professional dancers from several dance forms. Interviews were primarily based in the 4 Ws framework (Munroe, Giacobbi, Jr., Hall, & Weinberg, 2000), which meant exploring Where, When, Why, and What dancers image. A dimension describing How the dancers employed imagery also emerged. What refers to imagery content, and emerged from two categories: Imagery Types and Imagery Characteristics. Why represents the reason an image is employed and emerged from five categories: Cognitive Reasons, Motivational Reasons, Artistic Reasons, Healing Reasons, and No reason - Triggered Imagery. There were also large individual differences reported regarding What images were used and Why. Many new insights were gained, including several imagery types and reasons not commonly discussed in sport and exercise.
The Cognitive and Motivational Effects of Imagery Training: A Matter of Perspective
Jennifer L. Cumming and Diane M. Ste-Marie
The primary purpose of this study was to use synchronized skaters to examine the influence of imagery perspective on the cognitive and motivational functions of imagery during a five-week imagery training program. To this end, 16 novice synchronized skaters participated in an imagery intervention that incorporated both cognitive and motivational imagery. The Sport Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ: Hall, Mack, Paivio, & Hausenblas, 1998) was used to assess changes in the skaters’ use of cognitive and motivational images as a result of the training program. The results of a MANOVA indicated that skaters increased their use of cognitive specific and cognitive general imagery, regardless of their preferred imagery perspective. Furthermore, neither group showed changes in their use of imagery for motivational functions. The findings are discussed within the context of Hardy’s (1997) proposal that a particular imagery perspective is beneficial for the learning and performance of motor skills if it provides visual information that is otherwise not available to the performer.
Promoting Athlete Mental Health: The Role of Emotion Regulation
Georgia A. Bird, Mary L. Quinton, and Jennifer Cumming
This study investigated the relationship between reappraisal and suppression with depression and mental well-being among university athletes. It was hypothesized reappraisal would associate with lower depression and greater mental well-being, whereas suppression would associate with greater depression and reduced mental well-being. Employing a cross-sectional design, 427 participants (M age = 20.18, SD = 1.52; 188 males and 239 females) completed questionnaires assessing mental health and strategy use. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed reappraisal was positively associated, and suppression negatively associated with mental well-being, ΔR 2 = 4.8%, ΔF(2, 422) = 17.01, p < .001; suppression, β = −0.08, p = .028; reappraisal, β = 0.21, p < .001, but neither were associated with depression, ΔR 2 = 0.4%, ΔF(2, 422) = 1.33, p = .267; suppression, β = 0.06, p = .114; reappraisal, β = 0.03, p = .525. Results highlight reappraisal as correlated with mental well-being in student-athletes, and therefore, reappraisal could be beneficial for managing stress in sport. Reappraisal may implicate how well-being is promoted through sport, but future experimental research is needed to confirm causal relationships.
Self-Regulatory Imagery and Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Social-Cognitive Perspective
Maria-Christina Kosteli, Jennifer Cumming, and Sarah E. Williams
Limited research has investigated exercise imagery use in middle-aged and older adults and its relationship with affective and behavioral correlates. The study examined the association between self-regulatory imagery and physical activity (PA) through key social cognitive variables. Middle-aged and older adults (N = 299; M age = 59.73 years, SD = 7.73, range = 50 to 80) completed self-report measures assessing self-regulatory imagery use, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, perceived barriers, self-regulatory behavior, enjoyment, and PA levels. Path analysis supported a model (χ²  = 21.76, p = .08, CFI = .99, TLI = .97, SRMR = .03, RMSEA = .04) whereby self-regulatory imagery positively predicted self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and self-regulatory behaviors. Furthermore, self-regulatory imagery indirectly predicted barriers, outcome expectations, self-regulation, enjoyment, and PA. This research highlights self-regulatory imagery as an effective strategy in modifying exercise-related cognitions and behaviors. Incorporating social cognitive constructs into the design of imagery interventions may increase PA engagement.
Imagining Yourself Dancing to Perfection? Correlates of Perfectionism Among Ballet and Contemporary Dancers
Sanna M. Nordin-Bates, Jennifer Cumming, Danielle Aways, and Lucinda Sharp
The present study investigated perfectionism prevalence and its relationship to imagery and performance anxiety. Two hundred and fifty (N = 250) elite students (66.4% female; M age = 19.19, SD = 2.66) studying mainly classical ballet or contemporary dance in England, Canada, and Australia completed questionnaires assessing perfectionism, imagery, and performance anxiety. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct cohorts: dancers with perfectionistic tendencies (40.59% of the sample), dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies (44.35%), and dancers with no perfectionistic tendencies (15.06%). Notably, these labels are data driven and relative; only eight dancers reported high absolute scores. Dancers with perfectionistic tendencies experienced more debilitative imagery, greater cognitive and somatic anxiety, and lower self-confidence than other dancers. Dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies reported midlevel scores for all constructs and experienced somatic anxiety as being more debilitative to performance than did those with no perfectionistic tendencies. Clusters were demographically similar, though more males than females reported no perfectionistic tendencies, and vice versa. In summary, the present findings suggest that “true” perfectionism may be rare in elite dance; however, elements of perfectionism appear common and are associated with maladaptive characteristics.
Layered Stimulus Response Training Improves Motor Imagery Ability and Movement Execution
Sarah E. Williams, Sam J. Cooley, and Jennifer Cumming
This study aimed to test Lang’s bioinformational theory by comparing the effects of layered stimulus and response training (LSRT) with imagery practice on improvements in imagery ability and performance of a motor skill (golf putting) in 24 novices (age, M = 20.13 years; SD = 1.65; 12 female) low in imagery ability. Participants were randomly assigned to a LSRT (introducing stimulus and response propositions to an image in a layered approach), motor imagery (MI) practice, or visual imagery (VI) practice group. Following baseline measures of MI ability and golf putting performance, the LSRT and MI practice groups imaged successfully performing the golf putting task 5 times each day for 4 days whereas the VI practice group imaged the ball rolling into the hole. Only the LSRT group experienced an improvement in kinesthetic MI ability, MI ability of more complex skills, and actual golf putting performance. Results support bioinformational theory by demonstrating that LSRT can facilitate visual and kinesthetic MI ability and reiterate the importance of imagery ability to ensure MI is an effective prime for movement execution.