This prospective study was designed to identify psychological factors that predict career success in professional adult soccer. Post hoc, two groups were distinguished: (1) Male soccer players who successfully progressed into professional adult soccer (n = 18) and (2) Male soccer players who did not reach this level (n = 47). Differences between the two groups were examined on the basis of data gathered in the initial phase of their careers, 15 years earlier. The psychological factors that predicted career success while statistically controlling for initial performance level and demographic variables were goal commitment, engagement in problem-focused coping behaviors, and social support seeking. On the basis of their scores on the significant predictor and control variables, 84.6% of the adolescent youth players were classified correctly as successful or unsuccessful.
Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh, Paul L. C. Van Geert, Nico W. Van Yperen, Ralf F. A. Cox and Christophe Gernigon
This study on psychological momentum (PM) in sports provides the first experimental test of an interconnection between short-term PM (during a match) and long-term PM (across a series of matches). Twenty-two competitive athletes were striving to win a prize during a rowing-ergometer tournament, consisting of manipulated races. As hypothesized, athletes who had developed long-term positive PM after two successful races were less sensitive to a negative momentum scenario in the third race, compared with athletes who had developed long-term negative PM after two unsuccessful races. More specifically, the exerted efforts, perceptions of momentum, and self-efficacy were higher for participants who had developed long-term positive PM, and their perceptions of momentum and self-efficacy decreased less rapidly. These results illustrate a typical complex dynamical systems property, namely interconnected time scales, and provide deeper insights into the dynamical nature of PM.
Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh, Ralf F. A. Cox, Christophe Gernigon, Nico W. Van Yperen and Paul L. C. Van Geert
The aim of this study was to examine (1) the temporal structures of variation in rowers’ (natural) ergometer strokes to make inferences about the underlying motor organization, and (2) the relation between these temporal structures and skill level. Four high-skilled and five lower-skilled rowers completed 550 strokes on a rowing ergometer. Detrended Fluctuation Analysis was used to quantify the temporal structure of the intervals between force peaks. Results showed that the temporal structure differed from random, and revealed prominent patterns of pink noise for each rower. Furthermore, the high-skilled rowers demonstrated more pink noise than the lower-skilled rowers. The presence of pink noise suggests that rowing performance emerges from the coordination among interacting component processes across multiple time scales. The difference in noise pattern between high-skilled and lower-skilled athletes indicates that the complexity of athletes’ motor organization is a potential key characteristic of elite performance.