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Shooting Free Throws Under Pressure: A Social Media Self-Talk Intervention

Sabrina Gomez Souffront, Angeliki M. Mavrantza, and Marcelo Bigliassi

The present study sought to investigate the effects of a self-talk intervention on free-throw performance under pressure. The experimental manipulation was designed using a video from a social media platform. Thirty male college basketball players were randomly assigned into two groups (i.e., control and experimental). The experimental protocol incorporated three trials of three free throws each. Psychophysiological stress was assessed by use of heart rate variability. The illusion of pressure was created using arena recordings of large crowds along with instructions for participants to visualize a high-pressure scenario. The results indicate that the self-talk intervention was sufficient to improve free throw shooting accuracy during the postintervention phase. Short-term heart rate variability reduced significantly for the control group and remained relatively stable for the experimental group. Self-talk appears to influence free throw accuracy during situations of psychosocial stress by inhibiting the influence of negative thoughts on peripheral physiological reactions and movement automaticity.

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Developing Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence in Adolescent Soccer: A Community Outreach Pilot Program

Sabrina Gomez Souffront, Enzo R.N. Everett, and Jason Kostrna

Sport provides opportunities for adolescents to develop psychological skills. To realize this potential, sport facilitators must actively create a culture that develops adolescent athletes. Psychological skills training and biofeedback training have been effective at developing psychological skills in adult athletes. However, little research has focused on the effects of psychological skills training and biofeedback training in adolescent athletes. This study tests the efficacy of a pilot community outreach program to promote psychological skills development in adolescent soccer players from a travel soccer team (n = 21). During the 2-week intervention, researchers taught participants psychophysiological content related to self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and decision making. The psychological skills training sessions included active learning activities, group discussions, and reflection. Throughout the sessions, researchers used biofeedback to demonstrate and train participants in psychophysiological concepts. The 2-week intervention gave participants opportunities each day to monitor and reflect on their psychological performance state. Program evaluation data showed descriptive improvements in the ability to focus, control arousal, reduce stress, and control emotions. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests revealed significant positive changes occurred for decision-making self-efficacy. The intervention and efficacy of this study support applied practitioners’ integration of biofeedback and psychological skills training to improve adolescents’ self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and decision making.