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Nicola A. Maffiuletti

After a brief introduction on electro stimulation methodology and applications in competitive sport for performance optimization, this technical report presents the principal effects of electro stimulation-induced resistance exercise on neuromus-cular features. The advantages and limitations of this technique compared with those of voluntary exercise training are also discussed.

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Rylee Dionigi

The number of older athletes is growing with the aging of populations across the developed world. This article reviews studies from a variety of disciplines that focus specifically on the motives and experiences of older adults competing in physically demanding sports at events such as masters and veterans competitions in Australia or the Senior Olympics in North America. It is shown that the majority of research into this phenomenon has taken a quantitative approach or failed to consider older athletes’ experiences in the context of broader sociocultural discourses. Therefore, using the author’s research into the experiences of older Australian masters athletes as a catalyst, the need for and strength of sociological qualitative research in this area is discussed. The use of qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and observations, and interpretive analysis provided alternative ways of making sense of older adults and their relationship with competitive sport to what is typically found in the sport and aging literature.

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Edward McAuley and Diane Gill

Interest in the role of self-confidence in sport performance has been high in sport psychology research. A measure to assess general physical self-efficacy has recently been developed, but without application to competitive sport performance. The present study examined the role of general and task-specific self-efficacy in women's intercollegiate gymnastics. It also assessed the reliability and validity of the Physical Self-Efficacy Scale in a competitive sport setting. The Physical Self-Efficacy Scale was found to be a reliable and valid instrument for measuring an individual's general physical self-efficacy in sport. However, the task-specific measures of self-efficacy and the gymnast's prediction of how they would perform proved to be much more powerful variables for predicting actual gymnastic performance. The results are discussed in terms of the relationships between different types of self-efficacy and sport performance and the problems associated with self-efficacy measurement.

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Mark T. Suffolk

The sport of competitive bodybuilding is strongly associated with muscle dysmorphia, a body-image-related psychological disorder. This theoretical article draws on existing concepts, namely stereotyping, prejudice, and positive deviance in sport, to explicate the notion that competitive bodybuilding and body-image disturbance may be mistakenly conflated. The perspective offered here goes beyond the countercultural physique to argue that a negative social perception of competitive bodybuilders obscures the pragmatic necessity to develop a hypermesomorphic physique. Competitive bodybuilders (CBs) and athletes in mainstream competitive sport exhibit congruent psychobehavioral tendencies. In a competitive-sport context, behavior among CBs perceived as pathological may primarily represent a response to the ideological sporting ethic of “win at all costs,” not extreme body-image disturbance. Analyzing the psychobehavioral characteristics of CBs within a sporting rather than a pathological framework, allows for a contextual assessment of behaviors to then determine the clinical significance relative to the research population under investigation.

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Timothy T. Robinson and Albert V. Carron

The relationship between the decision of young athletes (N = 98) classified as starters, survivors, and dropouts to either maintain involvement with a competitive sport team or drop out and a number of motivational (personal) and situational factors was examined. The personal and situational factors employed fell into six categories: trait measures (competitive trait anxiety [A-trait], achievement motivation; intrinsic [self] motivation; self-esteem; and causal attributions), general attitudes toward competitive sport, sportsmanship and communication factors, socialization factors (parental and peer group involvement), coaching (leadership) considerations, and cohesion or group climate factors. Discriminant function analysis revealed that the continuum of actual participation which exists (starters-survivors-dropouts) is also directly related to systematic differences in personal factors within the groups as well as in their perception of specific situational factors. Variables discriminating among the groups included perception of group climate (sense of belonging, enjoyment, closeness), attitudes toward competition (perception of the importance of winning, role of physical activity in physical fitness development), socialization factors (encouragement received from fathers, encouragement received from teachers), attributions following athletic outcomes (attributions to ability following failure and effort following success), and leadership (perception of the coach as an autocrat).

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Dennis G. Fairall and Wendy M. Rodgers

Previous literature on goal setting indicates that athlete participation in the goal-setting process can improve performance (cf. Kyllo & Landers, 1995). Much of the past research, however, has been criticized for using contrived environments where the motivation and involvement of the participants is questionable. This field experiment examined the effect of three methods of goal-setting (participative, assigned, and self-set) on various goal attributes. Track and field athletes (N = 67) were randomly assigned to one of the three experimental conditions. Results of between-groups ANOVAs showed a significant difference in the perception of the amount of participation athletes perceived in each of the three conditions, indicating the success of the manipulation. Further analyses, however, revealed no advantage to the participative and self-set conditions compared to the assigned condition in terms of goal attributes. The influence of goal-setting method on other goal attributes may be spurious or due to other contextual variables.

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Urban Johnson, Johan Ekengren and Mark B. Andersen

This study examined the effectiveness of a prevention intervention program to lower the incidence of injury for soccer players with at-risk psychosocial profiles. The Sport Anxiety Scale, the Life Event Scale for Collegiate Athletes, and the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 were used to screen for psychosocial risk factors outlined in the stress and injury model (Williams & Andersen, 1998). Thirty-two high injury-risk players were identified and randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Injuries of participants were reported by their coaches. The intervention program consisted of training in 6 mental skills distributed in 6 to 8 sessions during 19 weeks of the competitive season. The results showed that the brief intervention prevention program significantly lowered the number of injuries in the treatment group compared with the control group.

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Gary Robinson and Mark Freeston

A growing body of research has provided evidence for intolerance of uncertainty (IU)—a dispositional characteristic resulting from negative beliefs about uncertainty and its implications—as a possible transdiagnostic maintaining factor across a range of anxiety disorders. No studies have yet examined IU in performance anxiety in sport. The purpose of the present investigation, therefore, was to investigate the relationship between IU and performance anxiety in sport. Participants included 160 university athletes (51% female) who completed measures of IU, performance anxiety, and robustness of sport confidence. Regression analyses revealed that the inhibitory dimension of IU and robustness of sport confidence were significant predictors of performance anxiety. A simple mediation model was also tested and suggested indirect and direct effects of inhibitory IU on performance anxiety symptoms through robustness of sport confidence. Implications of these findings for researchers and practitioners and directions for future research are discussed.

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J. D. DeFreese and Alan L. Smith

Social support and negative social interactions have implications for athlete psychological health, with potential to influence the links of stress-related experiences with burnout and well-being over time. Using a longitudinal design, perceived social support and negative social interactions were examined as potential moderators of the temporal stress–burnout and burnout–well-being relationships. American collegiate athletes (N = 465) completed reliable and valid online assessments of study variables at four time points during the competitive season. After controlling for dispositional and conceptually important variables, social support and negative social interactions did not moderate the stress–burnout or burnout–well-being relationships, respectively, but did simultaneously contribute to burnout and well-being across the competitive season. The results showcase the importance of sport-related social perceptions to athlete psychological outcomes over time and inform development of socially driven interventions to improve the psychological health of competitive athletes.

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Tara K. Scanlan and Michael W. Passer

The purpose of this field study was to examine the effects of game win-loss and margin of victory or defeat on postgame attributions. Male competitive soccer players (N= 160) were asked to attribute causality for their teams' win or loss and for their individual performance during the game to the internal factors of ability and effort and to the external factors of opponent difficulty and luck. It was proposed that, in sport, self-esteem protecting biases could be constrained by the emphasis placed on internal causal determinants of performance, and by situational norms which limit the acceptability of external attributions. In accordance with these contentions, the findings showed that although winning players attributed greater causality to internal factors than did losers, losing players still assessed internal attributes to be the most important determinants of game outcome and personal performance. Further, losers were not more external in their causal ascriptions than winners. The margin of victory or defeat did not affect players' causal attributions or their judgments of how much ability, effort, difficulty with the opponent, and luck they personally had in the game. The margin of outcome did impact players' judgments regarding how much of these attributes their team had demonstrated during the game.