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Gregoire P. Millet, David J. Bentley and Veronica E. Vleck

The relationships between sport sciences and sports are complex and changeable, and it is not clear how they reciprocally influence each other. By looking at the relationship between sport sciences and the “new” (~30-year-old) sport of triathlon, together with changes in scientific fields or topics that have occurred between 1984 and 2006 (278 publications), one observes that the change in the sport itself (eg, distance of the events, wetsuit, and drafting) can influence the specific focus of investigation. The sport-scientific fraternity has successfully used triathlon as a model of prolonged strenuous competition to investigate acute physiological adaptations and trauma, as support for better understanding cross-training effects, and, more recently, as a competitive sport with specific demands and physiological features. This commentary discusses the evolution of the scientific study of triathlon and how the development of the sport has affected the nature of scientific investigation directly related to triathlon and endurance sport in general.

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Kelly A. Forrest

Attachment (Bowlby, 1969/1982) is an interdisciplinary theory of social development that views early relationships with caregivers as central to how individuals learn to regulate attention under attachment-related stress (Fonagy & Target, 2002; Main, 2000; Hesse & Main, 2000). This paper proposes that conditions present in competitive sport situations, such as unexpected conditions, fear of failure, fatigue, and coach stress are likely to activate attachment-related attentional processes of athletes and differentially influence attentional flexibility under competitive stress. The attachment-based approach to performance-related problems in which attentional processes are implicated, such as anxiety, choking, and self-regulation, is discussed. Research using the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, & Main, 1996) is suggested to investigate the distribution of adult attachment classification in the athlete population.

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Laura Frances Chase

Foucault’s notions of disciplinary processes, power, and docile bodies are used in this article to understand the complexity of the body and physicality in women’s rugby. Drawing on data from 30 interviews and field observations with 94 female rugby players, I investigate the multiple and complex ways in which the female rugby body is disciplined. These women resisted disciplinary processes of femininity but, at the same time, were willing participants in disciplinary processes of competitive sport. They and their bodies are shaped by multiple and competing discourses and disciplinary processes. The women in this study were drawn to rugby because of the physical nature of the game, became fully invested in competitive athletics, and resisted notions of ideal female bodies.

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Chris Harwood, Lew Hardy and Austin Swain

This article presents a critical analysis of the conceptualization and measurement of achievement goals in sport. It highlights conceptual and measurement inconsistencies of Nicholls’s (1984) achievement-goal theory in education with respect to its applicability to sport. It proposes that differentiation between ability and effort does not underpin the activation of task and ego goal perspectives in a sport performance context and that the definitions of task and ego involvement in the classroom might not generalize to sport. It offers an alternative conceptual approach incorporating three goal perspectives, as both a theoretical and a practical solution. It addresses goal involvement in sport performance contexts by emphasizing the value of assessing self-referent and normative conceptions of achievement at different time frames. Overall, this critique attempts to advance our understanding of both achievement goals and individual performers in the competitive sport domain.

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Joanne Hudson and Natalie C. Walker

Using a case study approach, this study examined reversals in metamotivational state during golf competition. Five male golfers competed in a round robin tournament. Following each match, golfers were individually interviewed using a modified Metamotivational State Coding Schedule (Potocky, Cook, & O’Connell, 1993). Content analysis techniques were used to identify metamotivational states, reversals in metamotivational state, and the factors affecting them. Individual differences in metamotivational state profiles were evident; for instance, the tournament winner demonstrated the most consistent profile across matches. Overall, however, players’ profiles demonstrated more similarities than differences. Most frequently cited metamotivational states were paratelic and telic conformity, and reversals were attributable to contingent event, satiation, and frustration factors. These results support reversal theory proposals (Smith & Apter, 1975) and its use as a framework for understanding psychological processes during competitive sport (Kerr, 1993).

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Jayne M. Jenkins and Brandon L. Alderman

The Sport Education (SE) curricular model incorporated within university physical education Basic Instruction Program (BIP) may increase group cohesion. This study’s purpose was to identify student perceptions of a BIP course taught within SE, and investigate group cohesion in differing activity content. Participants included 430 students enrolled in 25 BIP classes delivered in SE. A mixed method design included multiple data collection: critical incident, interview, and Physical Activity Group Environmental Questionnaire (PAGEQ). Lifetime skill and competitive sport class participants reflected more group cohesion than exercise class participants. Exercise class participants reported lower task cohesion than other groups, p < .05. Sport participants reported higher social cohesion than lifetime skill participants, whose responses were higher than exercise participants, ps<.05. Findings from critical incident and interview data provided further support for the PAGEQ results. We suggest that exercise classes may not spontaneously lend themselves to cohesion; thus, teachers need to be more creative in designing SE for exercise classes to increase cohesion.

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Robin J. Farrell, Peter R.E. Crocker, Meghan H. McDonough and Whitney A. Sedgwick

Special Olympics programs provide competitive sport opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities. This study investigated athletes’ perceptions of motivation in Special Olympics. Using Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a guiding framework to explore athletes’ experiences, 38 Special Olympians (21 males and 17 females) from British Columbia, Canada were interviewed. The data suggested that factors that enhanced autonomy, competence, and relatedness were linked to the participants’ motivation in Special Olympics programs. These factors included positive feedback, choice, learning skills, demonstrating ability, friendships, social approval, and fun. Social support from significant others was a key factor related to participation motivation. There was also evidence for the motivating aspects of extrinsic rewards. Motivation was undermined primarily by conflicts with coaches and teammates.

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Andreas Volp and Udo Keil Johann

Athletes* success and failure have often been linked to certain personality characteristics. Although previous results in this area were equivocal, many researchers concluded that athletes often drop out of competitive sport because of conflicts of interest, or because they fail to demonstrate high ability in sports. This investigation assessed the importance of intrapersonal conflicts to athletic performance and to dropping out. Swimmers competing at three different levels of performance filled out a conflict questionnaire. Some had indicated that they planned to discontinue their swimming career soon. High performers showed less conflict and a more intensive use of cognitive conflict reduction mechanisms than did medium performers and low level swimmers. Dropouts, on the other hand, had higher conflict scores in areas directly related to athletic performance than did continuers. Intrapersonal conflict was interpreted to be an important mediating variable in sport and personality research.

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Sophia Jowett and Duncan Cramer

Guided by the work-family interface literature, this study examined the concept of spillover in a sample of elite athletes. It was conceptualized that there would be potential negativity and interference between athletes’ intense demands of competitive sport and efforts to maintain positive relationships with their partners. Antecedents and consequences of the potential spillover phenomenon were assessed in a sample of 87 elite-level athletes who had either romantic or marital, heterosexual relationships. Findings indicated that while trust, commitment, and communication were not strongly related to spillover, negative transactions were. Moreover, the occurrence of spillover was negatively related to sport satisfaction and positively to depressive symptoms. Finally, it was found that a mechanism by which perceived negative transactions were linked to athletes’ satisfaction and depression was through spillover. Spillover can help explain how personal relationships and sport are likely to contribute to athletes’ performance accomplishment and overall well-being.

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Urban Johnson

The rehabilitation of 77 competitive athletes with long-term injuries was followed for 2–3 years from the time of the injury with the aim of identifying potential risk factors in rehabilitation. Seven athletes not returning to competitive sport despite favorable physical records were compared with 5 athletes who returned despite unfavorable records and with 65 athletes whose rehabilitation met expectations. Twelve tests were employed on four different occasions. The results suggested that being younger, being female, and having had no previous experience with injury characterized the nonreturning athlete. An insufficient mental plan for rehabilitation and a predominantly negative attitude toward it, as well as restricted social contacts with fellow athletes and a low mood level, appeared to accompany a problematic and prolonged rehabilitation. It was concluded that the nonreturning, long-term injured athlete can be identified as early as the beginning of the rehabilitation process.