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Marsha L. Blakeslee and Dennis M. Goff

The present study examined the effectiveness of a mental skills training (MST) package employing relaxation, imagery, goal setting, and self-talk (strategies for improving performance and perceptions through cognitive-somatic techniques) on equestrian performance. A stratified random sample of 17 competitive collegiate horseback riders participated in this study: 8 received MST and 9 were controls. Riders’ goal orientation was also assessed and used to determine if there might be a relationship with performance change over time. Assessment of participants via performance in 2 horse shows revealed no interaction effect for group by time in either flat or show-jumping performance, but there was a significant main effect of time for performance improvement. Riders demonstrated a dominant mastery-approach goal orientation as hypothesized, but no significant correlations with performance change emerged. Findings do not rule out MST as a possible performance enhancing technique, but more research is needed to assess nomothetic MST package effects.

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Jessica Daw and Damon Burton

This investigation examined the impact of a comprehensive psychological skills training for tennis (PSTT) program on collegiate tennis players. PSTT players were exposed to three psychological skills (goal setting, imagery, and arousal regulation) and then given the opportunity to develop individualized PSTT programs. Program effectiveness was evaluated through (a) case study analyses, (b) intrateam analyses comparing high- and low-commitment PSTT players, and (c) interteam analyses comparing PSTT (n = 12) and non-PSTT (n = 12) players. Results indicated that the PSTT program was successful, with case studies providing strong support for the effectiveness of individual PSTT programs. Additionally, intrateam results revealed that all PSTT players felt their PSTT program helped their tennis games, although high- and low-commitment players differed significantly on only 2 of 15 psychological and performance variables. As expected, interteam results demonstrated significant differences on only 2 of 15 variables, with PSTT players displaying higher state self-confidence and committing fewer double faults than did their non-PSTT counterparts.

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Britton W. Brewer and Robert Shillinglaw

This study evaluated the effects of a four-session psychological skills training (PST) workshop on self-reported knowledge, perceived importance, and use of goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and cognitive restructuring in a sample of male intercollegiate lacrosse players (n=49). In an interrupted time-series design with switching replications, subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Self-report data were collected on three occasions at 2-week intervals. Group 1 received PST during the first 2-week interval and Group 2 received PST during the second 2-week interval. The overall effectiveness of the PST workshop was supported by both between-subjects and within-subjects analyses. This study illustrates that controlled research can viably and ethically be conducted in applied sport settings. Limitations of the current study and directions for future PST outcome research are discussed.

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Lewis A. Curry and Sameep D. Maniar

The purpose of this paper is to describe content and methods of an academic course offered twice annually at an NCAA Division I University. With empirical support to the effectiveness of this academic approach to psychological skills training presented elsewhere (Curry & Maniar, 2003), the focus of this paper is on the type and extent of each intervention treatment during the 15-week semester course (Vealey, 1994). Course content includes applied strategies for best performance targeting, arousal/affect control, identifying purpose, goal setting, imagery, sport confidence, trust, flow, sport nutrition, on-/off-field problem solving, self-esteem, and life skills education on eating disorders and drug/alcohol abuse. Teaching methods include narrative story telling, small group activities, journal writing, cognitive-behavioral homework, brainteasers, and active learning demonstrations.

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Richard C. Thelwell and Iain A. Greenlees

The present study examined the effects of a mental skills training package on competitive gymnasium triathlon performance and evaluated the utilization and impacts of the mental skills during performance. Four participants competed against each other on ten occasions in a single-subject multiple baseline across individuals design, which was used to evaluate an intervention package including goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and self-talk. The results indicated the mental skills package to be effective in enhancing all participants’ competitive triathlon performance and usage of mental skills from baseline to intervention phases. Qualitative data revealed that each of the mental skills were employed both prior to and during each triathlon and had varying impacts depending on when they were utilized. Issues regarding mental skill effectiveness and usage within competitive endurance performance are discussed.

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Maureen R. Weiss

Psychological skills and methods that can be applied to working with children and adolescents in sport are examined from a theory-to-practice as well as a practice-to-theory approach. In addition to an emphasis on the reciprocal nature of theory and practice, the philosophy adopted in this paper includes a focus on personal development rather than performance, and a multidisciplinary or integrated sport science approach to understanding children’s experiences in the physical domain. The types of psychological skills discussed are self-perceptions, motivation, positive attitude, coping with stress, and moral development. Psychological methods include environmental influences such as physical practice methods, coach and parent education, communication styles, and modeling; and individual control strategies in the form of goal setting, relaxation, and mental imagery. Numerous anecdotal stories based on the author’s experiences working with children and adolescents are used to support the major philosophical themes advanced in this paper.

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Ronald W. Quinn

This presentation will describe through lecture and video the first Urban Soccer Collaborative National Youth Leadership Institute, a weeklong residence program held at Xavier University to assist future leaders within underserved communities. This program could serve as a model for teaching sport leadership and service to children between the ages of 14-18. The weeklong program consisted of a youth soccer coaching education certification course, goal-setting sessions, personal and career development workshops, service through soccer training, and a cultural experience via a field trip to the Freedom Center on the Underground Railroad. Upon completion of the program the students made a commitment to design and implement a service-learning project within their undeserved community within the calendar year. An update of their service projects will also be presented.

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James K. Luiselli, Neelima G. Duncan, Patrick Keary, Elizabeth Godbold Nelson, Rebecca E. Parenteau and Kathryn E. Woods

We evaluated several behavioral coaching procedures with two young adults who had intellectual and developmental disabilities and were preparing for a Special Olympics track event. The primary dependent measure was their time running a 100 m sprint. Following a baseline phase, the athletes were coached to improve sprint times through different combinations of goal setting, performance feedback, positive reinforcement, and video modeling. In a sequential design, the average sprint time of both athletes was lower during intervention conditions compared with baseline. Following intervention, they ran faster than their baseline average in competition at a regional Special Olympics event. We discuss intervention and research issues in behavioral coaching of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Tracey J. Devonport, Andrew M. Lane and Kay Biscomb

Coping is highly relevant to performance in any domain where individuals strive to attain personally important goals. Thirty-three female national standard adolescent netball players participated in focus group and one-on-one interviews. Participants reported stressors experienced in not only sport, but also in other areas of life. They also reported coping strategies used and factors that might influence the stressor-coping process. Results identified stressors that derived from attempts to achieve highly important personal goals in different areas of daily life, including academic, sport, and social settings. Usage of future-oriented coping strategies such as planning, prioritizing, time-management, goal setting, and problem solving were associated with successfully managing multiple stressors and a sense of well-being. The present study illustrated the potential contribution of encouraging athletes to use future-oriented coping strategies when seeking the attainment of goals across domains. Future research should look to test the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote usage of future-oriented coping strategies.

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Urban Johnson

Objective:

To explore the effectiveness of psychological interventions for a sample of competitive athletes with long-term injuries.

Design:

Modified 2-group, pretreatment and posttreatment (repeated measure).

Patients:

58 patients, 14 in the experimental group and 44 in the control group.

Interventions:

Three intervention strategies: stress management and cognitive control, goal-setting skills, and relaxation/guided imagery.

Main Outcome Measure:

Mood level was used as the outcome variable.

Results:

The experimental group had a higher overall mood level at the midpoint and end of rehabilitation and were also feeling more ready for competition than the control group was, both as rated by themselves and by the treating physiotherapist The only strategy to show statistical differences was relaxation/guided imagery.

Conclusions:

The results of this study support the idea that a short-term intervention has the potential to elevate mood levels in competitive athletes with long-term injuries.