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Terry Orlick

This article shares personal perspectives and experiences that emerged as a result of 15 years of consulting with athletes representing numerous sports at both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The importance of listening closely to athletes, respecting their input, and meeting their individual needs is emphasized. Consultants are cautioned against using batteries of standardized personality assessment inventories as these infringe upon the athletes’ time without providing practical information. Effectiveness in this field requires firsthand experience with sport, a full understanding of the psychology of excellence, and a willingness to learn directly from the athletes themselves. One-on-one contact, adaptability to individual needs, good interpersonal skills, applied sportpsych knowledge, and persistence in application are also important. It is recommended that registration of consultants in the field of applied sport psychology be contingent upon direct evaluation by athletes.

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Catherine D. Ennis

As typically taught, sport-based, multiactivity approaches to physical education provide students with few opportunities to increase their skill, fitness, or understanding. Alternative curriculum models, such as Sport Education, Teaching Games for Understanding, and Fitness for Life, represent a second generation of models that build on strong statements of democratic, student-centered practice in physical education. In the What Goes Around section of the paper, I discuss the U.S. perspective on the origins of alternative physical education curriculum models introduced in the early and mid-20th century as a response to sport and exercise programs of the times. Today, with the help of physical educators, scholars are conducting research to test new curricular alternatives or prototypes to provide evidence-based support for these models. Yet, the multiactivity, sport-based curriculum continues to dominate in most U.S. physical education classes. I discuss reasons for this dogged persistence and propose reforms to disrupt this pervasive pattern in the future.

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Alison L. Smith, Nikos Ntoumanis, Joan L. Duda and Maarten Vansteenkiste

Developing upon cross-sectional research (Smith, Ntoumanis, & Duda, 2007) supporting the self-concordance model (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999) as a framework for contextual goal striving, the current study investigated the assumptions of the model in relation to season-long goal striving in sport. The study additionally examined the role of coping strategies in the persistence of goal-directed effort. Structural equation modeling analysis with a sample of 97 British athletes indicated that start-of-season autonomous goal motives were linked to midseason effort, which subsequently predicted end-of-season goal attainment. Attainment was positively related to changes in psychological need satisfaction, which, in turn, predicted changes in emotional well-being. In a second model, autonomous and controlled motives positively predicted task- and disengagement-oriented coping strategies, respectively. In turn, these strategies were differentially associated with effort. The findings provide support for contextual adaptations of the self-concordance model and demonstrate the role of coping strategies in the goal striving process.

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Glyn C. Roberts, Douglas A. Kleiber and Joan L. Duda

This study investigated the relationship of sport participation to perceived competence. Perceived competence is considered to be an important determinant of achievement motivation and behavior. Male and female fourth and fifth graders (N = 143) were given Harter's (Note 1) Perceived Competence Scales and were interviewed to determine their involvement in organized sport activities. Further, the children were asked to give their perceptions of competence relative to teammates, general attributions about sport outcomes, and their persistence and expectancies of future success. The results revealed that participants in organized sports were higher in perceived competence, were more persistent, and had higher expectations of future success. The causal attributions of participant children were ability oriented and generally supported the perceived competence findings. The results are consistent with the statement that perceived competence in physical skills has an important influence on the participation and motivation of children in sport contexts.

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Katrien Fransen, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Bert De Cuyper, Pete Coffee, Matthew J. Slater and Filip Boen

Research on the effect of athlete leadership on precursors of team performance such as team confidence is sparse. To explore the underlying mechanisms of how athlete leaders impact their team’s confidence, an online survey was completed by 2,867 players and coaches from nine different team sports in Flanders (Belgium). We distinguished between two types of team confidence: collective efficacy, assessed by the CEQS subscales of effort, persistence, preparation, and unity; and team outcome confidence, measured by the ability subscale. The results demonstrated that the perceived quality of athlete leaders was positively related to participants’ team outcome confidence. The present findings are the first in sport settings to highlight the potential value of collective efficacy and team identification as underlying processes. Because high-quality leaders strengthen team members’ identification with the team, the current study also provides initial evidence for the applicability of the identity based leadership approach in sport settings.

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David Kavanagh and Steven Hausfeld

Previous research has established that happy and sad moods can affect persistence and success on a cognitive task, with happiness leading to higher performance and self-efficacy. Two experiments examined whether happiness also produces increased performance on a physical task and tested whether self-efficacy mediated the results. When mood inductions covered the full range from happy to sad, mood did influence physical performance. However, evidence regarding self-efficacy was equivocal. Efficacy for the performed task was unaffected by mood, although it remained a good predictor of performance. Since mood did alter efficacy for a nonperformed but more familiar task, inconsistent efficacy results could reflect task differences. The findings offer prospects for the use of mood inductions in practical sporting situations.

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Weidong Li, Amelia M. Lee and Melinda A. Solmon

This study was designed to explore the relationships among individuals’ dispositional ability conceptions, intrinsic motivation, experience, perceived competence, persistence, and performance. Participants practiced a novel task, completed surveys before instruction and after practicing the task, and completed a skill test. The results indicated that participants with higher levels of entity ability conceptions were likely to exert less effort and be less intrinsically motivated during practice. Participants with more experience were likely to feel more competent before and after practice. Perceived competence, incremental ability conceptions, and performance were positive predictors of intrinsic motivation. The results suggest that providing students opportunities to experience a variety of activities and creating an environment in which students can feel competent, believe in the efficacy of effort, and experience success could foster intrinsic motivation to actively engage in activities.

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Anna-Marie C. Jaeschke, Michael L. Sachs and Kristen D. Dieffenbach

Ultramarathon running entails coping with unanticipated environmental circumstances and intense physical and psychological fatigue; a sport in which the role of mental toughness can be crucial. This research focused on semistructured interviews with 12 ultramarathon runners who volunteered to discuss their perceptions of mental toughness. The data allowed researchers to gather a multidimensional view of mental toughness from ultramarathon runners’ experiences and perspective in addition to providing a snapshot of the challenges and demands ultrarunners face, as well as ethical concerns associated with athletes pushing themselves beyond their limits. Central themes included: perseverance/persistence, overcoming adversity, perspective, life experience, psychological skills use, and camaraderie in the ultra community. A deeper understanding of mental toughness obtained from a sample of ultramarathon runners can inform consultants working to improve quality or consistency of performance, and become aware of ethical concerns of encouraging athletes to exceed perceptual or actual limitations.

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Ruth L. Chimenti, Sara A. Scholtes and Linda R. Van Dillen

Many risk factors have been identified as contributing to the development or persistence of low back pain (LBP). However, the juxtaposition of both high and low levels of physical activity being associated with LBP reflects the complexity of the relationship between a risk factor and LBP. Moreover, not everyone with an identified risk factor, such as a movement pattern of increased lumbopelvic rotation, has LBP.

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in activity level and movement patterns between people with and people without chronic or recurrent LBP who participate in rotation-related sports.

Design Case:

Case-control study.

Setting:

University laboratory environment.

Participants:

52 people with chronic or recurrent LBP and 25 people without LBP who all play a rotation-related sport.

Main Outcome Measures:

Participants completed self-report measures including the Baecke Habitual Activity Questionnaire and a questionnaire on rotation-related sports. A 3-dimensional motion-capture system was used to collect movement-pattern variables during 2 lower-limb-movement tests.

Results:

Compared with people without LBP, people with LBP reported a greater difference between the sport subscore and an average work and leisure composite subscore on the Baecke Habitual Activity Questionnaire (F = 6.55, P = .01). There were no differences between groups in either rotation-related-sport participation or movement-pattern variables demonstrated during 2 lower-limb-movement tests (P > .05 for all comparisons).

Conclusions:

People with and people without LBP who regularly play a rotation-related sport differed in the amount and nature of activity participation but not in movement-pattern variables. An imbalance between level of activity during sport and daily functions may contribute to the development or persistence of LBP in people who play a rotation-related sport.

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Denine Ellis, Ervin Sejdic, Karl Zabjek and Tom Chau

The strength of time-dependent correlations known as stride interval (SI) dynamics has been proposed as an indicator of neurologically healthy gait. Most recently, it has been hypothesized that these dynamics may be necessary for gait efficiency although the supporting evidence to date is scant. The current study examines over-ground SI dynamics, and their relationship with the cost of walking and physical activity levels in neurologically healthy children aged nine to 15 years. Twenty participants completed a single experimental session consisting of three phases: 10 min resting, 15 min walking and 10 min recovery. The scaling exponent (α) was used to characterize SI dynamics while net energy cost was measured using a portable metabolic cart, and physical activity levels were determined based on a 7-day recall questionnaire. No significant linear relationships were found between a and the net energy cost measures (r < .07; p > .25) or between α and physical activity levels (r = .01, p = .62). However, there was a marked reduction in the variance of α as activity levels increased. Over-ground stride dynamics do not appear to directly reflect energy conservation of gait in neurologically healthy youth. However, the reduction in the variance of α with increasing physical activity suggests a potential exercise-moderated convergence toward a level of stride interval persistence for able-bodied youth reported in the literature. This latter finding warrants further investigation.