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Jason R. Karp

Purpose:

To describe and compare training characteristics of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers.

Methods:

All qualifiers (104 men, 151 women) received questionnaires. Ninety-three (37 men, 56 women) responded and were categorized as elite (men <2 hours 15 minutes, women <2 hours 40 minutes) or national class.

Results:

Men and women ran 75% and 68% of their weekly training distance, respectively, below marathon race pace. Men trained longer than women (12.2 ± 5.3 vs 8.8 ± 5.6 years), ran more often (8.7 ± 2.8 vs 7.1 ± 2.5 times/wk), and ran farther (145.3 ± 25.6 vs 116.0 ± 26.5 km/wk). Elite women ran more than national-class women (135.8 ± 31.5 vs 111.3 ± 23.3 km/wk). Distances run at specific intensities were similar between sexes. For men and women, respectively, 49% and 31% did not have a coach and 65% and 68% trained alone. Marathon performance correlated to 5-km, 10-km, and half-marathon performance and to years training, average and peak weekly distance, number of weekly runs, and number of runs ≥32 km for women.

Conclusions:

Among U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers, there is no consensus as to how to prepare for the marathon beyond running at a pace slower than race pace. Weekly training distance seems to influence women’s marathon performance more than it does men’s. Because many of these athletes train alone and without a coach, further research is warranted on the reasons that these athletes train the way they do.

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Meghan H. McDonough, Valerie Hadd, Peter R.E. Crocker, Nicholas L. Holt, Katherine A. Tamminen and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

This study qualitatively examined the congruence between anticipated and experienced stressors and coping, and approaches to coping by elite adolescent swimmers across a competitive season. Eight swimmers were interviewed before and after 4 swim meets in a season. Data collection and analysis were guided by theories of stress and coping. Accuracy of anticipating stressors was low, and the stressors and coping strategies were variable across the season. Idiographic profiles were created for each athlete and grouped according to similar characteristics. Three groups included athletes who (a) generally perceived stressors as something to be avoided, (b) generally perceived stressors as problems to be solved, or (c) generally perceived swimming as fun and minimally stressful. These patterns appeared to be associated with anticipating stressors, highlighting the complex and dynamic nature of stress and coping among adolescent athletes.

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Janet L. Starkes and Fran Allard

Volleyball players and nonplayers were compared for speed and accuracy of performance in a task involving detection of the presence of a volleyball in rapidly presented slides of a volleyball situation. Slides depicted both game and nongame situations, and subjects performed the task in both noncompetitive and competitive conditions. For all subjects, game information was perceived more quickly and accurately than nongame information. In competition all subjects showed decreased perceptual accuracy and no change in criterion, supporting the Easterbrook (1959) notion of perceptual narrowing with stress. Very large accompanying increases in response speed, however, suggested that competition may induce adoption of a particular speed-accuracy trade-off. Cognitive flexibility in the adoption of particular speed-accuracy trade-offs is discussed with reference to volleyball.

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Stephen D. Mellalieu, Sheldon Hanton and Graham Jones

The purpose of this study was to extend the work of Jones and Hanton (2001) by examining differences in affective states of performers who reported facilitating or debilitating interpretations of symptoms associated with precompetitive anxiety. Competitive athletes (N = 229) completed state and trait versions of the CSAI-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990), including intensity and direction subscales (Jones & Swain, 1992) and an exploratory measure of precompetitive affective responses in preparation and competition. “Facilitators” reported significantly greater positive labeling of affective experiences than “debilitators,” while cognitive interpretations of symptoms were reported to change with regard to preparation for and actual performance. The findings further support the need to examine the labeling and measurement of precompetitive affective states.

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Lena Fung

The motives for participating in competitive sports among male and female elite disabled athletes from different countries have not been studied. Similarities and differences were therefore examined in the rating of importance of the seven motive factors of fitness, team atmosphere, skill development, excitement and challenge, friendship, achievement and status, and energy release. The countries studied included the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan. Data were collected during the Seoul Paralympics from 15 male and 15 female track athletes ages 20–30 from each country. All subjects competed in wheelchairs and met the eligibility criteria of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation. The instrument used was a questionnaire designed by Gould, Feltz, and Weiss (1985) to examine motives for participating in competition. There were significant differences among athletes from the three countries in the motive factors of fitness, team atmosphere, and excitement and challenge. Gender differences were found in the motive factors of friendship as well as achievement and status.

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Christine M. Salinas, Frank M. Webbe and Trent T. Devore

We administered neurocognitive batteries to 49 youth soccer athletes (9–15 yr), who were selected from competitive soccer teams in Central Florida. We collected observational data on soccer heading, self-reported soccer heading, as well as demographics, including school, medical, and soccer history. Both the frequency and intensity of heading the ball in soccer was low in comparison with adolescents and adults. In our sample, the vast majority of soccer headings were of low to moderate intensity and direct (i.e., the incoming flight of the ball was perpendicular to the forehead). Age significantly correlated with frequent heading. Parents were reliable observers of their children’s soccer heading behavior and other at-risk behaviors during games. The majority of soccer headings were direct rather than flicks. Almost half of our participants reported headache and one-fourth reported dizziness after instances of heading the ball. Frequency of soccer heading was not related to neuropsychological score data.

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Janet Bond Brill and Michele W. Keane

This study described the prevalence of supplement use by 309 male and female competitive bodybuilders. Participants completed a comprehensive survey detailing their supplementation patterns with respect to frequency of product use, spending characteristics, and reasons for use. Supplement use varied with training phase. Protein powder was more popular in the bulking phase, ammo acids and fat burners in the cutting phase. Fifty-nine percent of respondents spent $25-100 per month; 4.9% spent over $150. The most popular reason for supplement use was “to meet extra demands of heavy training.” In the bulking phase, both weight gain and anabolic supplements were reportedly consumed more frequently by men than women. In the cutting phase, “fat burners” were reportedly consumed by a greater percentage of females than males. The information provided by this study can help sport nutritionists identify supplements most often consumed by bodybuilders and can aid counselors as they guide bodybuilders towards more healthful nutrition practices.

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Benjamin James and David Collins

A qualitative investigation was conducted to identify sources of stress and the self-presentational mechanism that may underpin them during competition. Twenty athletes described factors they perceived as stressful during competition. Content analysis revealed eight general sources of stress, including significant others, competitive anxiety and doubts, perceived readiness, and the nature of the competition (e.g., importance). Two thirds (67.3%) of all stress sources appeared to heighten the athletes’ need to present themselves in a favorable way to the audience. Factors that increased perceived likelihood of poor personal performance lowered the athletes’ ability to convey a desired image to their audience. Social evaluation and self-presentation was also identified as a general source of stress in its own right. These findings suggest that (a) these athletes were sensitive about the impressions people form of them during competition, and (b) stress responses maybe triggered by factors that primarily influence the self-presentational implications of performance.

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Windee M. Weiss and Maureen R. Weiss

The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of attraction- and entrapment-based commitment among young competitive female gymnasts. Participants were 124 gymnasts (Levels 9, 10, and Elite) ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. Based on theory and research (Raedeke, 1997; Schmidt & Stein, 1991), commitment profiles were determined based on benefits, costs, enjoyment, personal investments, and attractive alternatives. Three profiles emerged when using cluster analysis. Attracted gymnasts were higher in enjoyment and benefits but lower in costs and attractive alternatives. Entrapped gymnasts were lower in enjoyment and benefits but higher in costs and attractive alternatives. Vulnerable gymnasts were moderately lower in enjoyment and benefits, average in costs, and moderately higher in attractive alternatives. These groups were significantly different on social support, social constraints, motivational orientation, and training behaviors. The three profiles were similar but not identical to Schmidt and Stein’s predicted types of commitment, with each type being further differentiated by social, motivational, and behavioral variables.

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Michael J. Greenspan and Deborah L. Feltz

Although sport psychologists utilize numerous interventions and techniques intended to enhance the performance of athletes in competition, the selection of those interventions has not always been based on research for which adequate validity has been established. In an attempt to provide sport psychologists with a working body of accurate knowledge and suggestions for future intervention research, an analysis and synthesis of research is presented that addresses the efficacy of different psychological interventions with athletes performing in competitive situations in the sport in which they regularly compete. From information reported in 19 published studies, covering 23 interventions, it was concluded that educational relaxation-based interventions and remedial cognitive restructuring interventions with individual athletes are, in general, effective.