Thelma S. Horn
Developmentally based theories in the social-psychology field emphasize the important role that significant adults play in relation to children’s psychosocial health and well-being. In particular, these theories suggest that the responses adults provide to children in reaction to their performance attempts may affect the children’s own perceptions and evaluations of their competencies, as well as their overall self-worth. In the youth sport setting, coaches may be the main providers of performance-related feedback. The purpose of this paper was to use current research and theory to identify and discuss 4 dimensions of coaches’ feedback that are relevant to the growth and development of young athletes: content, delivery, degree of growth orientation, and extent of stereotyping. The paper ends with recommendations for future research on the topic, with emphasis on examining developmental transitions and why coaches give feedback in particular ways.
Thelma S. Horn
One of the primary dilemmas surrounding the topic of early sport specialization is whether the practice develops talent or creates long-term psychological problems. The purpose of this paper is to discuss this issue using psychosocial and developmental frameworks. This review begins with an overview of several developmentallybased constructs (e.g., biological maturation, perceived competence, body image, self-identity, motivational orientation) that are relevant to the sport domain. These developmental progressions are then used to address some potential implications for children who begin intensive training and competition at an early age. Next, some socioenvironmental factors are explored, with specific links made to the early sport specialization process. Finally, the paper ends with four recommendations for future research on the topic.
Thelma Sternberg Horn
Researchers investigating expectancy effects in academic as well as motor skills contexts have consistently found differences in instructors' behavior towards high-and low-expectancy children. However, certain methodological problems which have recently been identified may limit the interpretation of such differential behaviors as evidence of instructor bias. The present study was conducted to examine expectancy effects in the athletic setting by directly testing three of these methodological issues. The instructional behaviors of five junior high softball coaches were recorded separately for practice and game situations using the Coaching Behavior Assessment System. Multivariate statistical analyses of coaching behaviors revealed that low-expectancy athletes received more praise for success and more general and corrective instruction in game situations than did high-expectancy athletes. Although these results demonstrate the existence of differential patterns of coaching behavior, the direction of the obtained differences does not support the predictions implicit in the self-fulfilling prophecy model. In addition, results indicated that the methodological issues under consideration do influence the accuracy with which coaching behavior is assessed and interpreted.
Thelma S. Horn
Perceptions of physical competence and intrinsic joy have been identified as 2 of the primary correlates and even predictors of physical activity and sedentary behavior for individuals of all ages. Developmental theories of competence motivation suggest that such self-perceptions may have their origins in the early childhood years and are formed on the basis of a whole range of social and environmental factors. However, it is likely that the primary influence during this early time period may be the attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of significant adults with whom the child interacts. This paper identifies and discusses 3 ways in which important adults can exert an influence on young children’s perceptions of competence and intrinsic joy and, correspondingly, on their levels of physical activity and sedentary behavior. The paper ends with some recommendations for future research.
Eric M. Martin and Thelma S. Horn
This study examined whether adolescent athletes’ levels of sport burnout would be predicted by their level and type of both passion and athletic identity. Female high-school-aged athletes (N = 186) completed a series of questionnaires to measure study variables. The results of three hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that athletes’ levels of harmonious passion served as negative predictors for all three dimensions of burnout, while obsessive passion positively predicted scores only on the exhaustion subscale. In addition, the subdimensions of athletic identity contributed a unique amount to the prediction of some aspects of burnout. These results indicate that both passion and athletic identity are important correlates or predictors of burnout levels, with harmonious passion offering the most protective effects.
Joanne Butt, Robert Weinberg and Thelma Horn
The purposes of the present investigation were twofold: (a) to investigate the fluctuations of anxiety and self-confidence throughout competition by measuring these variables retrospectively before, during, and after competition and (b) to investigate the relationship between the intensity and directional interpretation of anxiety and perceived performance across competition. Field hockey players (N = 62) completed the modified Mental Readiness Form-Likert (MRF-2) within 30 minutes after competition using the method of retrospective recall. Results indicated significant fluctuations across competition for cognitive anxiety intensity and direction, somatic anxiety intensity, and self-confidence intensity. Results also revealed that the strongest predictors of performance across both halves were self-confidence intensity and direction and cognitive anxiety direction. These findings should have important implications for practitioners and sport psychologists because anxiety measurement and confidence are critical parts of most psychological skills training programs.
Thelma S. Horn and Maureen R. Weiss
This study examined developmental differences in children’s judgments of their physical competence. Two questionnaires were administered to 134 children, ranging in age from 8 to 13 years, to measure their perceptions of competence and the criteria they use to evaluate that competence. In addition, children’s actual physical competence was assessed through teacher evaluation. Univariate and multivariate analyses of the data revealed three major findings. First, the accuracy with which children judge their competence does increase with age. Second, the criteria children use to assess their competence is also age-dependent, with younger children showing greater preference for adult feedback and older children showing greater preference for peer comparison. Third, the criteria children use in competency judgments was found to be directly related to the accuracy of such judgments. The results of this study demonstrated the existence of developmental patterns with respect to children’s judgments of their physical competence.
Daniel Gould, Thelma Horn and Janie Spreemann
This investigation was designed to assess perceived sources of stress in junior elite wrestlers. Wrestlers (N = 458) participating in the United States Wrestling Federation Junior National Championships rated the frequency with which they typically experienced 33 sources of stress before competitions. Descriptive statistics revealed that performing up to one's ability, improving on one's last performance, participating in championship meets, not wrestling well, and losing were identified as major sources of stress. Factor analytic results showed that the 33 sources of stress loaded on three factors, including: fear of failure-feelings of inadequacy, external control-guilt, and social evaluation. Multiple regression analyses revealed that both wrestler trait anxiety and years of wrestling experience were significant predictors of the fear of failure-feelings of inadequacy factor, while trait anxiety also was found to be a significant predictor of the social evaluation factor. Although both the most and least frequently experienced sources of stress were identified in this investigation, it was concluded that large individual differences existed in perceived sources of stress. In addition, the need for replicating and extending these findings with other samples was emphasized.
Daniel Gould, Thelma Horn and Janie Spreemann
The present study was designed to examine precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns of junior elite wrestlers. Specifically, 458 wrestlers participating in the United States Wrestling Federation Junior National Championships rated their typical levels of anxiety at various times prior to and during competitions. The relationships between success, years wrestling experience, age, trait anxiety, and precompetitive and competitive state anxiety were examined using both univariate and regression analyses. Contrary to previous studies, no significant differences were found in precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns between successful and less successful as well as more and less experienced wrestlers. In addition, age was not found to be related to either precompetitive or competitive anxiety. Consistent with the previous research, however, significant anxiety differences were found between high as compared to low trait anxious wrestlers. Descriptive statistics summarized across the entire sample also revealed that the wrestlers became nervous or worried in 67% of all their matches and that their nervousness sometimes helped and sometimes hindered their performance. The results were discussed in terms of individual differences, situation-specific responses to stress, and the need to employ multidimensional measures of anxiety. It was also suggested that researchers must be cautious in generalizing the findings of exploratory studies, especially when small, nonrandomized samples have been employed.