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Jeffrey J. Martin and Laurie A. Malone

Although sport psychologists have started to examine elite disability sport, studies of comprehensive mental skill use are rare. In the current study, we examined multidimensional imagery and self-talk, as well as comprehensive mental skills (i.e., coping with adversity, goal setting, concentration, peaking under pressure, being coachable, confident, and feeling free from worry). In addition to descriptive data, we also were interested in the ability of athlete’s mental skills to predict engagement (e.g., being dedicated). Fourteen elite level wheelchair rugby players from the United States participated, and results indicated that athletes employed most mental skills. We accounted for 50% of the variance in engagement with comprehensive mental skills (β = .72, p = .03) contributing the most to the regression equation, while imagery (β = -.02, p = .94) and self-talk (β = -.00, p = .99) were not significant. Athletes who reported using a host of mental skills (e.g., coping with adversity) also reported being engaged (e.g., dedicated, enthused, committed) to wheelchair rugby. Athletes reporting minimal mental skill use were less engaged.

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Laurie A. Malone, A. Brian Nielsen and Robert D. Steadward

Success in free throw (FT) shooting is typically less in wheelchair basketball than in stand-up competition, but little is known about the actual nature of the shots in either setting. The outcome of a FT is typically classified as a dichotomous outcome of hit (score) or miss. However, ball pattern at the basket actually occurs along a continuum ranging from perfect hit to clean miss. The purposes of this investigation were to provide a technique for describing the FT outcome beyond the traditional dichotomous outcome and to employ it to determine the characteristics of FT shooting during an elite wheelchair basketball competition for males. FT statistics and schematic diagrams for 116 participants were recorded at the Sixth Gold Cup World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Results reflected typical success rates of FT shooting and revealed that short shots comprised the most prominent type of misses. The instrument developed for recording schematic diagrams was an effective way to determine and describe shot outcome profiles that reflect particular trends in FT shooting.

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Jeffrey J. Martin, Laurie A. Malone and James C. Hilyer

Research on elite female athletes with disabilities is extremely rare. Therefore, using the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (Cattell, Cattell, & Cattell, 1993) and Profile of Mood States (Droppleman, Lorr, & McNair, 1992), we examined differences between the top 12 athletes comprising the gold medal winning 2004 USA women’s Paralympic basketball team and 13 athletes attending the selection camp who did not make the team. Multivariate analysis of variance with follow-up tests revealed that athletes who made the Paralympic team scored higher on tough-mindedness (M = 5.7 vs. 4.3) and lower in anxiety (M = 5.6 vs. 7.8). For mood state, the Paralympians scored higher in vigor (M = 19.5 vs. 14.8) and lower in depressed mood (M = 3.9 vs. 6.7) and confusion (M = 5.5 vs. 7.5). The effect sizes were large (e.g., Cohen’s d = 0.91 - 1.69) for all five results.

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Daniel J. Daly, Laurie A. Malone, David J. Smith, Yves Vanlandewijck and Robert D. Steadward

A video race analysis was conducted at the Atlanta Paralympic Games swimming competition. The purpose was to describe the contribution of clean swimming speed, as well as start, turn, and finish speed, to the total race performance in the four strokes for the men’s 100 m events. Start, turn, and finish times, as well as clean swimming speed during four race sections, were measured on videotapes during the preliminary heats (329 swims). Information on 1996 Olympic Games finalists (N = 16) was also available. In Paralympic swimmers, next to clean swimming speed, both turning and finishing were highly correlated with the end race result. Paralympic swimmers do start, turn, and finish slower than Olympic swimmers but in direct relation to their slower clean swimming speed. The race pattern of these components is not different between Paralympic and Olympic swimmers.

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Garry D. Wheeler, Laurie A. Malone, Sandy VanVlack, Ewen R. Nelson and Robert D. Steadward

We examined the transition experiences and adjustment to retirement among 18 athletes with disabilities. Adopting a grounded theory approach, we interviewed athletes using a semistructured format based on Schlossberg’s (1981, 1984) transition model. Three basic questions were asked regarding the competitive period, events surrounding the retirement decision, and adjustment to retirement. Data were analyzed by an iterative process and a model was developed. Sport was a highly valued part of the lives of athletes; personal commitment to sport was evident and often taken to extremes including overtraining and ignoring medical advice. Transition from sport was an emotional experience for athletes, and difficulties were associated with voluntary versus involuntary retirement and readiness or lack of readiness for retirement. Coping with retirement appeared to be facilitated by readiness and having other job and family interests outside of sport. Many athletes expressed concern regarding chronic injuries and aging with a disability. We suggest that the Schlossberg model is a useful framework for examining athlete transition and adjustment to retirement.

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Daniel J. Daly, Stefka K. Djobova, Laurie A. Malone, Yves Vanlandewijck and Robert D. Steadward

A video race analysis was conducted on 100-m freestyle performances of 72 male and 62 female finalists at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Races were won or lost in the second half of each 50-m race lap and differences in speed between swimmers were more related to stroke length than stroke rate. Within-race speed changes were more related to changes in stroke rate. Stroke rate changes were also responsible for speed changes between qualifying heats and finals in the first part of races, while stroke length was responsible for better speed maintenance at the end of races. Results indicate that Paralympic finalists use race speed patterns similar to able-bodied elite swimmers.

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Matthew P. Ford, Laurie A. Malone, Harrison C. Walker, Ildiko Nyikos, Rama Yelisetty and C. Scott Bickel

Background:

UPDRS and PDQ-39 are reliable and valid assessments of quality of life and physical function in persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, these measures were not designed to track day-to-day or week-to-week changes in community activity in persons with PD.

Methods:

Twelve individuals with PD (stage 1 to 3, Hoehn and Yahr) who were active members of a health and wellness facility were recruited for this study. Investigators collected health history information, asked questions about the amount and frequency of weekly exercise, and assessed motor symptoms and ADL skills using the UPDRS, and provided participants with Step Activity Monitor (SAM). SAM data were collected for a continuous 7-day period.

Results:

Participants averaged 8996 steps/day, had an average of 322 minutes of step activity per day, but were inactive (minIA) 77% of their time per day. On the days that participants visited the health and wellness facility they took an average of 802 more steps with 12 minutes more activity per day.

Conclusions:

A SAM can be used to capture activity levels in persons with PD. These pilot data indicate that persons with mild to moderate PD can achieve step activity levels similar to healthy older adults.

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Dawn T. Gulick and Laurie A. Malone

Edited by Monique Mokha

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James M. Rhodes, Barry S. Mason, Bertrand Perrat, Martin J. Smith, Laurie A. Malone and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose:

To quantify the activity profiles of elite wheelchair rugby (WCR) players and establish classification-specific arbitrary speed zones. In addition, indicators of fatigue during full matches were explored.

Methods:

Seventy-five elite WCR players from 11 national teams were monitored using a radio-frequency-based, indoor tracking system across 2 international tournaments. Players who participated in complete quarters (n = 75) and full matches (n = 25) were included and grouped by their International Wheelchair Rugby Federation functional classification: groups I (0.5), II (1.0–1.5), III (2.0–2.5), and IV (3.0–3.5).

Results:

During a typical quarter, significant increases in total distance (m), relative distance (m/min), and mean speed (m/s) were associated with an increase in classification group (P < .001), with the exception of groups III and IV. However, group IV players achieved significantly higher peak speeds (3.82 ± 0.31 m/s) than groups I (2.99 ± 0.28 m/s), II (3.44 ± 0.26 m/s), and III (3.67 ± 0.32 m/s). Groups I and II differed significantly in match intensity during very-low/low-speed zones and the number of high-intensity activities in comparison with groups III and IV (P < .001). Full-match analysis revealed that activity profiles did not differ significantly between quarters.

Conclusions:

Notable differences in the volume of activity were displayed across the functional classification groups. However, the specific on-court requirements of defensive (I and II) and offensive (III and IV) match roles appeared to influence the intensity of match activities, and consequently training prescription should be structured accordingly.