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Paul R. Surburg

This article provides insights into the use of imagery procedures with special populations. After an overview of various imagery techniques that have been used to enhance motor performance with normal persons, studies dealing with the elderly, brain and spinal cord injuries, neoplasms, and persons with mental handicaps are discussed. Issues are addressed concerning the use of imagery techniques by the researcher and practitioner. The final section of this paper deals with possible applications of imagery techniques with special populations.

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Kate A.T. Eddy and Stephen D. Mellalieu

The purpose of this study was to investigate imagery experiences in performers with visual impairments. Structured, in-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with six elite goalball athletes regarding the processing and use of mental images in training and competition. Interview transcripts were analyzed using deductive and inductive procedures and revealed four general dimensions describing the athletes’ uses of imagery. Participants reported using imagery for cognitive and motivational purposes in both training and competition. Imagery was also suggested to be utilized from an internal perspective with the processing of images derived from a range of modalities. The findings suggest that visual impairment does not restrict the ability to use mental imagery and that psychological interventions can be expanded to include the use of all the athletes’ sensory modalities.

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Sanna M. Nordin-Bates, Jennifer Cumming, Danielle Aways and Lucinda Sharp

The present study investigated perfectionism prevalence and its relationship to imagery and performance anxiety. Two hundred and fifty (N = 250) elite students (66.4% female; M age = 19.19, SD = 2.66) studying mainly classical ballet or contemporary dance in England, Canada, and Australia completed questionnaires assessing perfectionism, imagery, and performance anxiety. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct cohorts: dancers with perfectionistic tendencies (40.59% of the sample), dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies (44.35%), and dancers with no perfectionistic tendencies (15.06%). Notably, these labels are data driven and relative; only eight dancers reported high absolute scores. Dancers with perfectionistic tendencies experienced more debilitative imagery, greater cognitive and somatic anxiety, and lower self-confidence than other dancers. Dancers with moderate perfectionistic tendencies reported midlevel scores for all constructs and experienced somatic anxiety as being more debilitative to performance than did those with no perfectionistic tendencies. Clusters were demographically similar, though more males than females reported no perfectionistic tendencies, and vice versa. In summary, the present findings suggest that “true” perfectionism may be rare in elite dance; however, elements of perfectionism appear common and are associated with maladaptive characteristics.

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Lucette Toussaint, Nicolas Robin and Yannick Blandin

We examined the similarities between actual and motor imagery practice with regard to the development of sensorimotor representations. Participants had to reproduce knee joint positions (15 or 150 trials) in visuo-proprioceptive or proprioceptive conditions (Experiment 1) or in visual, proprioceptive or visuo-proprioceptive imagery conditions (Experiment 2), before being transferred in a proprioceptive condition. A familiarization session in a proprioceptive condition was performed before imagery practice only (Experiment 2). Results showed that the effect of vision withdrawal varied according to actual or motor imagery practice: performance accuracy in transfer decreased after actual visuo-proprioceptive practice while it increased after visuo-proprioceptive imagery practice. These results suggest that different movement representations can be developed following actual or imagery practice. They also suggest that information from previous experience could be stored in a sensori-motor memory and could be fundamental for the efficiency of motor imagery practice.

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Paul R. Surburg, David L. Porretta and Vins Sutlive

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of imagery practice as supplementary practice in the performance of a throwing task. A secondary purpose was to ascertain if different cognitive demands of a motor task affected the use of this supplementary practice. Forty adolescents with mild mental retardation were randomly assigned to the following groups: low cognitive loading-physical practice, low cognitive loading-imagery and physical practice, high cognitive loading-physical practice, high cognitive loading-imagery and physical practice. Subjects engaged in seven practice sessions during which performance scores of a throwing task were recorded. Groups supplemented with imagery practice were superior in performance to nonimagery groups. A higher cognitive loading of the task did not enhance the use of this type of supplementary practice more than a lower loading. The results of this study reflect the efficacy of imagery practice as a means to improve motor performance of students with mild mental retardation.

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Sheng Li, Jennifer A. Stevens, Derek G. Kamper and William Z. Rymer

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of motor imagery on the premotor time (PMT). Twelve healthy adults performed reaction time movements in response to external visual signals at rest, when holding an object (muscle activation), or performing different background imagined movements (motor imagery). When compared to rest, muscle activation reduced the PMT; imagined finger extension of the right hand and imagined finger flexion of the left hand elongated the PMT; imagined finger flexion of the right hand had no effect on the PMT. This movement-specific effect is interpreted as the sum of the excitatory effect caused by enhanced corticospinal excitability specifically for the primary mover of the imagined movement and an overall inhibition associated with increased task complexity during motor imagery. Our results clearly demonstrate that motor imagery has movement-specific effects on the PMT.

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Doris Pogue Screws and Paul R. Surburg

In order to improve motor performance, mental imagery procedures have evolved over the years with nondisabled subjects. Studies researching the concept of using mental imagery with special populations (Surburg, & Stumpner, 1987; Surburg, 1991; Surburg, Porretta, & Sutlive, 1995) are very few in number. This study examined the efficacy of using mental imagery in developing skill on a motorically oriented task (pursuit rotor) and a cognitively oriented task (peg board) on middle school students with mild mental disabilities (MMD). Thirty subjects were assigned randomly to a physical, imagery, or no-practice control group to perform either a peg board or pursuit rotor task. For each motor task, there was a pretest followed by appropriate treatment regime and a posttest session. The dependent variables were the number of pegs placed in appropriate order for the peg board task and time on target for the pursuit rotor task. Results were that imagery practice enhanced the motor performance of children with MMD on both the peg board (cognitively oriented task) and pursuit rotor (motorically oriented task).

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Editorial FROM THE EDITOR Esther Thelen 4 2005 9 2 117 118 10.1123/mcj.9.2.117 Research The Movement-Specific Effect of Motor Imagery on the Premotor Time Sheng Li * Jennifer A. Stevens * Derek G. Kamper * William Z. Rymer * 4 2005 9 2 119 128 10.1123/mcj.9.2.119 Effects of Response Task

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Original Research On the Content of Sensorimotor Representations After Actual and Motor Imagery Practice Lucette Toussaint * Nicolas Robin * Yannick Blandin * 4 2010 14 2 159 175 10.1123/mcj.14.2.159 Research Age-Related and Sensory Declines Offer Insight to Whole Body Control During a Goal

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Vellapandian Ponnusamy, Michelle Guerrero and Jeffrey J. Martin

The quintessential goal of most sport psychology consultants is to teach athletes how to achieve optimal performance in any given circumstance. This is often accomplished through the implementation of a psychological skills training (PST) program wherein a set of psychological strategies (e.g., imagery