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On the Use of Paradoxical Interventions in Counseling and Coaching in Sport

Michael Bar-Eli

This article discusses the use of paradoxical interventions in counseling and coaching in sport. The concepts of first- and second-order change processes are clarified. The logic of the paradox is described in detail. Several examples of paradoxical intervention in sport are presented, together with guidelines for its use. Finally, the possibilities of integrating paradoxical thought processes into educational sport psychology are discussed.

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Observations of Behavioral Violations as Crisis Indicators in Competition

Michael Bar-Eli and Gershon Tenenbaum

Twenty-two basketball experts observed 53 male basketball players (ages 15–16) during a tournament. They observed behaviors that violated the rules and classified them as minor or major violations as well as called or uncalled by the officials. In addition, they coded the exact time of each of the four categorized violations and assigned it to one of six time phases defined by Bar-Eli (1984) with respect to psychological crisis vulnerability. Non-parametric statistical analysis indicated that more frequent violations were observed in the end phase of the second half than in the other five phases. Overall, minor violations were more frequent than major ones, although major violations were more likely to occur in the second half than in the first half, particularly in the end phase. Uncalled violations were more frequent than called ones. The called violations in the main phases were relatively less frequent than in the beginning and ending phases, whereas the reverse was true for uncalled violations. The results are discussed in relation to the concept of the psychological performance crisis.

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Processes That Shaped Sports in Israel during the 20th Century

Haim Kaufman and Michael Bar-Eli

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The Valuation of Athletes as Risky Investments: A Theoretical Model

Haim Kedar-Levy and Michael Bar-Eli

The desire to hire the best athletes and coaches in order to maximize team performance necessitates generous compensation contracts, which in turn increase the risk of financial distress or even bankruptcy for team owners. Indeed, one of the largest expense items in the budget of professional sport teams is the remuneration of players and coaches. Yet an investment made today in a given team yields an uncertain income in the future because team profitability depends on the uncertain performance of each player and the synchronization among players—both influenced by the coach. We present a formal theoretical model that assesses athletes’ valuation and accounts for the aforementioned factors. The optimal compensation schedule is determined empirically by regressing expected performance measures of each player with the aggregate team performance. Once the optimal schedule has been determined, the expected rate of return for the owner is earned at the lowest possible risk.

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A Five-Step Approach to Mental Training Incorporating Biofeedback

Boris Blumenstein, Michael Bar-Eli, and Gershon Tenenbaum

A five-step approach of mental training incorporating biofeedback (BFB) with videocassette recorder (VCR) is presented in this article. The technique consists of five stages, with flexible time-session limits that can be individualized. These are (a) introducing mental techniques, (b) determining and strengthening the appropriate BFB modality, (c) BFB training with simulated competitive stress, (d) transformation of the mental training to practice, and (e) realization of the technique in competitive situations. The technique and some findings are further discussed.

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Using Goal Setting to Improve Physical Performance of Adolescents with Behavior Disorders: The Effect of Goal Proximity

Michael Bar-Eli, Ilan Hartman, and Noa Levy-Kolker

The purpose of the present investigation was to investigate the relationship between goal proximity and performance. Goal setting was used as a motivational technique for enhancing physical performance of adolescents with behavior disorders. Subjects (N = 80) were randomly assigned to one of two goal-setting conditions: (a) long-term goals and (b) short- plus long-term goals. After a 3-week baseline period, subjects were tested on a 1-min sit-up task once a week for 10 weeks. Results indicated that the short- plus long-term group exhibited the greatest increase in performance, although the long-term group also displayed significant improvements. Results are discussed in reference to Locke and Latham’s (1985) approach to goal setting. In addition, several methodological and theoretical aspects are discussed that are particularly relevant to the use of goal setting with physical activity tasks among persons with disabilities such as behavior disorders.

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Effect of Goal Proximity and Goal Specificity on Muscular Endurance Performance: A Replication and Extension

Gershon Tenenbaum, Saadia Pinchas, Gabi Elbaz, Michael Bar-Eli, and Robert Weinberg

The purpose of the present investigation was to extend the literature on the relationship between goal specificity, goal proximity, and performance by using high school students and attempting to control for the effects of social comparison. Subjects (N=214) in Experiment 1 were randomly assigned to one of five goal-setting conditions: (a) short-term goals, (b) long-term goals, (c) short- plus long-term goals,(d) do-your-best goals, and (e) no goals. After a 3-week baseline period, subjects were tested once a week on the 3-minute sit-up over the course of the 10-week experimental period. Results indicated that the short- plus long-term group exhibited the greatest increase in performance although the short-term and long-term groups also displayed significant improvements. In Experiment 2, a short- plus long-term group was compared against a do-your-best group. Results again revealed a significant improvement in performance for the combination-goal group whereas the do-your-best group did not display any improvement.

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Role Conflict and Burnout among Elite Israeli Female Athletes Engaged in “Feminine” and “Non-Feminine” Sports

Michael Bar-Eli, Arie Shirom, Michal Nir, and Ayala Malach Pines

Ninety female athletes at the international and/or national level, engaged in sports that are either “feminine” (n=49) or “non-feminine” (n=41), participated in this study. We predicted (a) a positive relation between role conflict and burnout; and (b) higher role conflict and burnout among athletes from “non-feminine” sports. Questionnaire results revealed a positive relation between role conflict and burnout, albeit only in “feminine” sports. Role conflict was not higher among athletes from “non-feminine” sports. Burnout was somewhat lower among “non-feminine”-sports athletes. “Feminine”-sports athletes were significantly younger, had more training, and felt more restricted by their athletic activity, in comparison to “non-feminine”-sports athletes. Results are interpreted in terms of current theoretical perspectives, such as the “expansionist” approach.

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“Intellectuals” and “Jocks” in the Soccer Commentators’ Booth in Israel

Natan Uriely, Abraham Mehrez, Michael Bar-Eli, and Assaf Mena

The current study examines two recent developments in the production of soccer coverage in the Israeli media: (a) the introduction of “intellectuals” and soccer “jocks” to the soccer commentators’ booth, and (b) the debate about soccer commentary that has followed this trend. These developments are delineated from the perspective of the commentators themselves through in-depth interviews and a systematic survey of their statements in the media. The interpretations offered of the commentators’ accounts are multidimensional and draw on theories of postmodernity, social relations of power, and professional systems. While the engagement of these paraprofessional journalists in soccer commentating is seen to exemplify postmodern processes of de-differentiation, the debate about soccer commentary is also seen to reflect on the commentators’ class and professional background.

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Manipulated Outcome Expectations and Competitive Performance in Motor Tasks with Gradually Increasing Difficulty

Noam Eyal, Michael Bar-Eli, Gershon Tenenbaum, and Joan S. Pie

The aim of this study was to examine whether outcome expectations can be generalized from one defined task to other tasks. A deception paradigm was employed in which outcome expectations were manipulated. High, low, or medium expectations toward performing five tasks, which gradually increased in complexity and shared a common skill, were manipulated. Ninety adult males were randomly assigned to manipulation groups. A within-subjects repeated measures ANOVA indicated that those manipulated by medium expectations showed elevated perceptions of outcome expectations. Their performance, however, was superior only in the two tasks most similar in complexity to the initial task. On the less similar tasks, the differences among the groups were insignificant. A generalization effect can therefore be demonstrated on outcome expectations and performance to a certain degree of task complexity. Implications of the superior performance of participants manipulated to produce medium outcome expectations are discussed.