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Jim Taylor

This article provides a conceptual model that describes several critical aspects in the development of competitive mental preparation strategies: (a) a complete understanding of the specific needs of the athlete, (b) detailed knowledge of the particular demands of the sport, (c) integration of this information to identify the most critical psychological factors that will affect performance, and (d) a the development of the most effective competitive mental preparation strategies for the specific athlete. This discussion is presented in several stages. First, gaining an in-depth understanding of an athlete with the use of subjective and objective assessment is described. Second, the critical physical, technical, and logistical differences between sports are delineated. Third, the roles that key psychological factors play and what priority they should be given in each sport are discussed. Fourth, strategies that are most suitable to each mental factor within each sport are identified.

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Jane P. Sheldon

One’s perceived competence relates to participation and effort and can vary depending on the self-evaluation sources that athletes value. Ruble and Frey (1991) theorized that phase of skill development may affect one’s preference for different sorts of competence information. The present study tested Ruble and Frey’s model using a sample of 466 adult tennis players. Skill level was athletes’ United States Tennis Association rating. Participants rated the personal importance of tennis and the importance of different sources of self-assessment information. Results showed that beginners were more likely to value temporal comparisons, and advanced players were more likely to value social comparisons. Players rating tennis as highly important were more likely to value temporal comparisons and effort for self-assessment. The findings support Ruble and Frey’s model.

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Jonathan R. Males and John H. Kerr

This paper examines the relationship between precompetitive affect and performance, using elements of reversal theory (Apter, 1982): a conceptual framework that incorporates a full range of pleasant and unpleasant moods. Nine elite male slalom canoeists completed questionnaires prior to each event of a season that included the world championships. Results were analyzed using a time-series model to make comparisons of each subject’s best and worst performance of the season. Predicted variations in precompetitive levels of pleasant and unpleasant mood did not occur, despite variations in subsequent performances. As predicted, good performances were preceded by low discrepancies between felt and preferred arousal levels, but there was no support for the hypothesis that a large discrepancy between perceived stress and coping efforts would precede a poor performance.

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Ross Roberts, Mike Rotheram, Ian Maynard, Owen Thomas and Tim Woodman

The present investigation examined whether perfectionism might predict whether an athlete would suffer from the ‘yips’ (a long term movement disorder consisting of involuntary movements that affects the execution of motor skills). A sample of ‘yips’-affected individuals from golf, cricket, and darts as well as a sport-matched sample of non ’yips’-affected athletes completed the shortened version of Frost, Marten, Lahart, and Rosenblate’s (1990) multidimensional perfectionism scale (FMPS). Results revealed that three aspects of perfectionism (personal standards, organization, and concern over mistakes) were associated with a greater likelihood of suffering from the ‘yips’, indicating that ‘yips’ sufferers had an unhealthy perfectionism profile. The results highlight perfectionism as a possible antecedent of the ‘yips’ experience within sport.

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Sandra E. Short, Jared M. Bruggeman, Scott G. Engel, Tracy L. Marback, Lori J. Wang, Anders Willadsen and Martin W. Short

This experiment examined the interaction between two imagery functions (Cognitive Specific, CS; and Motivation - General Mastery, MG-M) and two imagery directions (facilitative, debilitative) on self-efficacy and performance in golf putting. Eighty-three participants were randomly assigned to one of 7 conditions: (a) CS + facilitative imagery, (b) CS + debilitative imagery, (c) MG-M + facilitative imagery, (d) MG-M + debilitative imagery, (e) CS imagery only, (f) MG-M imagery only, (g) no imagery (stretching) control group. A 3 (imagery direction) X 3 (imagery function) X 2 (gender) ANCOVA with pretest scores used as the covariate was used. Results showed a main effect for performance; means were higher for the facilitative group compared to the debilitative group. For self-efficacy, there was a significant imagery direction by imagery function by gender interaction. These findings suggest imagery direction and imagery function can affect self-efficacy and performance and that males and females respond differently to imagery interventions.

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Kristoffer Henriksen, Natalia Stambulova and Kirsten Kaya Roessler

The holistic ecological approach to talent development in sport highlights the central role of the overall environment as it affects a prospective elite athlete. This paper examines a flat-water kayak environment in Norway with a history of successfully producing top-level senior athletes from among its juniors. Principal methods of data collection include interviews, participant observations of daily life in the environment and analysis of documents. The environment was centered around the relationship between prospects and a community of elite athletes, officially organized as a school team but helping the athletes to focus on their sport goals, teaching the athletes to be autonomous and responsible for their own training, and perceived as very integrated due to a strong and cohesive organizational culture. We argue that the holistic ecological approach opens new venues in talent development research and holds the potential to change how sport psychology practitioners work with prospective elite athletes.

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Thomas D. Raedeke and Gary L. Stein

This study examined the relationship between felt arousal, thoughts/feelings, and ski performance based on recent arousal and affect conceptualizations. An eclectic integration of these perspectives suggests that to understand the arousal-performance relationship, researchers need to examine not only a felt arousal continuum (i.e., intensity or level ranging from low to high), but also a concomitant thoughts and feelings continuum (i.e., ranging from positive to negative). Recreational slalom ski racers completed a self-report measure examining felt arousal and thoughts/feelings prior to several ski runs. Results demonstrated a significant relationship between felt arousal level, thoughts/feelings, and subjective ski performance ratings, but not for actual ski times. In contrast to the inverted-U hypothesis for subjective performance ratings, high felt arousal is not associated with poor performance ratings if it is accompanied by positive thoughts and feelings.

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Stephen Mellalieu, David A. Shearer and Catherine Shearer

Interpersonal conflict is a common factor reported by governing bodies and their athletes when preparing for, or competing in, major games and championships (Olusoga, Butt, Hays, & Maynard, 2009). The aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary exploration of a UK home nation’s athletes, management, and support staff experiences of interpersonal conflict during competition. Ninety participants who had represented or worked for their nation at major games or championships completed a detailed survey of interpersonal conflict experiences associated with competition. The results suggest athletes, coaches, and team managers are at the greatest risk from interpersonal conflict, while the competition venue and athlete village are where the most incidences of conflict occur. Interpersonal conflict was also suggested to predominantly lead to negative cognitive, affective, and behavioral consequences (disagreement, anger, upset, loss in concentration). Findings are discussed in the context of the experience of the interpersonal conflict with provisional recommendations offered for developing effective strategies for conflict management.

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Daniel Gould, Larry Lauer, Cristina Rolo, Caroline Jannes and Nori Pennisi

This study was designed to investigate experienced coaches’ perceptions of the parent’s role in junior tennis and identify positive and negative parental behaviors and attitudes. Six focus groups were conducted with 24 coaches. Content analysis of coaches’ responses revealed that most parents were positive influences and espoused an appropriate perspective of tennis, emphasized child development, and were supportive. In contrast, a minority of parents were perceived as negative, demanding and overbearing, and exhibiting an outcome orientation. New findings included parents’ setting limits on tennis and emphasizing a child’s total development, as well as the identification of behaviors that represent parental overinvolvement and that negatively affect coaching. Results are discussed relative to sport-parenting literature, and practical implications are outlined.

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Daryl Marchant and Petah Gibbs

Case example material of sport psychologists working with psychopathology in sport settings is limited. Applied sport psychologists need to be attuned to athletes with personality disorders because the effects of various disorders require substantial management as they can seriously impede individual potential and affect team harmony. In the present paper, a case example of an elite athlete presenting with symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is discussed at length. Critical incidents are described to show BPD manifested in a professional sports context. The complexities of providing competent, ethical, and realistic solutions to the athlete with BPD proved to be especially challenging. Issues that posed significant ethical or practical concerns included making an initial diagnosis, the referral process, maintaining confidentiality, and secondary needs.