The tension and excitement of competitive sport is created by the indeterminacy of the contest that is based on an approximate equity between the contestants. Yet players and teams vary in competence and prestige, and those with less competence are frequently labeled as the underdog. While winning is valued, cross-cutting values often create sentiments for the underdog, that is, the desire for the underdog to overcome the inferior status and upset the favored opponent. Social support for the underdog reflects a utilitarian perspective that helps maintain an emotional interest in a contest; additionally, underdogs receive support from the social value of equity. At a microlevel, the underdog status is often used to increase the level of motivation and performance. Data gathered from university students are used to support the positions taken in the paper.
Jimmy A. Frazier and Eldon E. Snyder
Patsy Tremayne and Debra A. Ballinger
Ballroom dance has resurfaced worldwide as a highly popular competitive sport and might be added to Olympic medal competition for the 2012 London Games. This resurgence presents opportunities for sport psychologists to provide psychological-skills and performance-enhancement training for ballroom dancers at all competitive levels. Few sport psychologists have the personal experience, expertise, or an adequate knowledge base about the competitive-ballroom-dance environment to provide meaningful intervention strategies for participants. This article was developed to provide initial guidance for sport psychology professionals interested in working in this environment. An overview of the competitive-dance and ballroom-dance environment, strategies used by dance couples for enhanced mental preparation before and during dance competitions, and excerpts from an interview with an Australian championship-level couple provide readers insight into performance-enhancement strategies for DanceSport.
Joachim Stoeber, Mark A. Uphill and Sarah Hotham
The question of how perfectionism affects performance is highly debated. Because empirical studies examining perfectionism and competitive sport performance are missing, the present research investigated how perfectionism affected race performance and what role athletes’ goals played in this relationship in two prospective studies with competitive triathletes (Study 1: N = 112; Study 2: N = 321). Regression analyses showed that perfectionistic personal standards, high performance-approach goals, low performance-avoidance goals, and high personal goals predicted race performance beyond athletes’ performance level. Moreover, the contrast between performance-avoidance and performance-approach goals mediated the relationship between perfectionistic personal standards and performance, whereas personal goal setting mediated the relationship between performance-approach goals and performance. The findings indicate that perfectionistic personal standards do not undermine competitive performance, but are associated with goals that help athletes achieve their best possible performance.
Robert J. Brustad
This study was designed to examine potential correlates of positive and negative affect experienced by young athletes during a competitive sport season. An index of both positive affect, season-long enjoyment, and negative affect, competitive trait anxiety (CTA) were included. The study was grounded within Harter's (1978, 1981a) theory of competence motivation. Male and female participants (N=207) in an agency-sponsored youth basketball league completed self-report measures of self-esteem, perceived basketball competence, intrinsic/extrinsic motivational orientation, perceived parental pressure, and frequency of performance and evaluative worries. Team win/loss records and estimates of each player's ability were obtained from the coaches. Multiple regression analyses revealed that for both boys and girls, greater enjoyment was predicted by high intrinsic motivation and low perceived parental pressure. High CTA was predicted for both boys and girls by low self-esteem. These findings are consistent with predictions stemming from competence motivation theory.
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.
Chris Lonsdale, Ken Hodge and Elaine A. Rose
The purpose of the four studies described in this article was to develop and test a new measure of competitive sport participants’ intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation (self-determination theory; Deci & Ryan, 1985). The items for the new measure, named the Behavioral Regulation in Sport Questionnaire (BRSQ), were constructed using interviews, expert review, and pilot testing. Analyses supported the internal consistency, test–retest reliability, and factorial validity of the BRSQ scores. Nomological validity evidence was also supportive, as BRSQ subscale scores were correlated in the expected pattern with scores derived from measures of motivational consequences. When directly compared with scores derived from the Sport Motivation Scale (SMS; Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, Tuson, & Blais, 1995) and a revised version of that questionnaire (SMS-6; Mallett, Kawabata, Newcombe, Otero-Forero, & Jackson, 2007), BRSQ scores demonstrated equal or superior reliability and factorial validity as well as better nomological validity.
Jessica Fraser-Thomas and Jean Côté
The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of adolescents’ positive and negative developmental experiences in sport. Twenty-two purposefully sampled adolescent competitive swimmers participated in a semistructured qualitative interview. Content analysis led to the organization of meaning units into themes and categories (Patton, 2002). Athletes suggested their sport involvement facilitated many positive developmental experiences (i.e., related to challenge, meaningful adult and peer relationships, a sense of community, and other life experiences) and some negative developmental experiences (i.e., related to poor coach relationships, negative peer influences, parent pressure, and the challenging psychological environment of competitive sport). Findings underline the important roles of sport programmers, clubs, coaches, and parents in facilitating youths’ positive developmental experiences in sport, while highlighting numerous important directions for future research. Implications for coach training and practice are outlined.
Mark H. Anshel
Drug abuse in competitive sport continues to be pervasive. Numerous explanations have been given for this and the reasons range from performance enhancement (anabolic steroids) to relieving stress and boredom (so-called recreational drugs). Drug testing, strict policies and enforcement, and educational programs have continued to be the main responses to the problem. However, relatively little attention has been given to preventive rather than punitive and curative strategies, particularly with respect to the coach’s input. This article offers several cognitive and behavioral approaches for coaches and sport psychology consultants in dealing with drug abuse among athletes. The recommendations are based on personal interactions with hundreds of intercollegiate athletes conducted over a 6-year period and from the extant professional literature.
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.
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.