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A. Mark Williams, Joan Vickers and Sergio Rodrigues

Processing efficiency theory predicts that anxiety reduces the processing capacity of working memory and has detrimental effects on performance. When tasks place little demand on working memory, the negative effects of anxiety can be avoided by increasing effort. Although performance efficiency decreases, there is no change in performance effectiveness. When tasks impose a heavy demand on working memory, however, anxiety leads to decrements in efficiency and effectiveness. These presumptions were tested using a modified table tennis task that placed low (LWM) and high (HWM) demands on working memory. Cognitive anxiety was manipulated through a competitive ranking structure and prize money. Participants’ accuracy in hitting concentric circle targets in predetermined sequences was taken as a measure of performance effectiveness, while probe reaction time (PRT), perceived mental effort (RSME), visual search data, and arm kinematics were recorded as measures of efficiency. Anxiety had a negative effect on performance effectiveness in both LWM and HWM tasks. There was an increase in frequency of gaze and in PRT and RSME values in both tasks under high vs. low anxiety conditions, implying decrements in performance efficiency. However, participants spent more time tracking the ball in the HWM task and employed a shorter tau margin when anxious. Although anxiety impaired performance effectiveness and efficiency, decrements in efficiency were more pronounced in the HWM task than in the LWM task, providing support for processing efficiency theory.

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Kristine L. Chambers and Joan N. Vickers

The effects of a coaching intervention involving Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning (BF-Q) on competitive swim times (cTIME), practice swim times (pTIME), and technique (TECH) were determined for competitive youth swimmers. The pre-post-transfer design spanned one short-course (25m) swim season. It was concluded that coaching in which feedback was delayed and replaced with questions directed to the athletes contributed to improved technique and subsequent faster race times. Compared to the Control group, the BF-Q group displayed greater gains in TECH during the intervention period and greater improvement in cTIME during the transfer period. Results are presented in a context of cognitive psychology, motor learning, and questioning. Applications to coaching practice and coach training are also discussed.

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Shawnee K. Harle and Joan N. Vickers

University basketball players (Team A) received quiet eye (QE) training over two seasons of league play, compared to two control teams (Team B and Team C), who competed at the top of the same league but did not receive similar training. QE was defined as the player’s final fixation on the hoop or backboard prior to the shooting action. In Season 1, Team A improved significantly, Pre to Post, in experimental accuracy, QE duration, and relative shot timing but did not transfer these improvements to league play during the season. At the conclusion of Season 2, Team A improved their free throw shooting accuracy by 22.62% to 76.66%, more than Team A (66.18%) or B (74.05%). The results highlight the importance of training a sustained duration of QE on a single location on the hoop prior to the execution of the shooting action. Theoretical and applied implications of training QE are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research and training.