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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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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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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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Konstantinos Koukouris

Disengagement from sport is examined from a phenomenological perspective. This perspective permits committed adult athletes to explain in their own time and their own words why they ceased participating in formally organized competitive sport. Thirty-four former advanced and elite athletes were interviewed. The constructed case study method provides the opportunity to examine causal relationships among all factors leading to disengagement from sport, and follows a “holistic” method of analyzing interviews (cognitive mapping). Former athletes identified the problem of settling into a job and financial constraints as the primary factors influencing their disengagement from sport. Most athletes left sport voluntarily and experienced elements of rebirth rather than social death.

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Karen M. Appleby and Kristen Dieffenbach

The purpose of this study was to investigate elite masters cyclists’ involvement in competitive sport. Using a descriptive, qualitative approach, the researchers interviewed ten elite-level masters cyclists. Data analysis revealed the following salient themes relevant to participants’ experiences: (a) athletic identity, (b) motivational factors, and (c) life balance. These findings suggest that participation as an elite-level masters athlete reflects a high degree of continuity for athletic identity that can be positive in relation to self-esteem and social validation and challenging in relation to transition and maintaining social relationships out of cycling settings.

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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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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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Ralph L. Pim

The purpose of this paper is to examine the values-based competitive sport program at the United States Military Academy (West Point), and to determine if the components of character and leadership development were associated with team success. Strategies employed at West Point to develop cultures that produced leaders of character and teams of significance were reviewed. Major points of emphasis in the competitive sport program included (i) teaching values through sport, (ii) identifying and defining core values, (iii) developing warrior athletes of character, (iv) building teams and cultures of significance, (v) reinforcing values through recognition, and (vi) assessing character and leader development of athletes and teams. Characteristics and specific behaviors of great leaders and teams were identified. A rubric for assessing character and leader development in sport and a survey evaluating the competitive sport experience on the desired learning outcomes of the West Point Cadet Leader Development System were presented. Results indicated that competitive sports programs built on values encouraged and developed behaviors that produced success both on and off the field. Subsequent investigations are recommended to identify how character and leadership development can be integrated into the coaching process and applied in civilian secondary schools and institutions of higher learning.

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Karine Corrion, Thierry Long, Alan L. Smith and Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville

This study was designed to assess athletes’ use of moral disengagement in competitive sport. We conducted semistructured interviews with 24 elite male and female athletes in basketball and taekwondo. Participants described transgressive behaviors in competitive situations and reasons for adopting such behaviors. Content analyses revealed that the eight moral disengagement mechanisms identified in everyday Life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, euphemistic labeling, minimizing or ignoring consequences, attribution of blame, dehumanization, displacement of responsibility, and diffusion of responsibility; Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996) were germane in sport. However, the most frequently adopted mechanisms in sport (i.e., displacement and diffusion of responsibility, attribution of blame, minimizing or ignoring consequences, and euphemistic labeling) differed somewhat from those considered most salient in everyday life (i.e., moral justification, advantageous comparison, and euphemistic labeling). Moral disengagement mechanisms linked to projecting fault onto others (“It’s not my fault”) and minimization of transgressions and their consequences (“It’s not serious”) appear to be especially prominent in sport. The findings extend the sport moral disengagement literature by showcasing athlete accounts of moral disengagement.