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Jamie Taylor and Dave Collins

sufficient psychological resources—this despite their possessing many other prerequisites of attaining elite performance, as shown by their selection to the academies and identification by our experienced participants. Our data support the contention that ability alone may be necessary but not sufficient to

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Jamie Taylor and Dave Collins

characteristics in facilitating the pathway to elite performance part 1: Identifying mental skills and behaviors . The Sport Psychologist, 24 ( 1 ), 52 – 73 . doi:10.1123/tsp.24.1.52 10.1123/tsp.24.1.52 MacNamara , Á. , Button , A. , & Collins , D. ( 2010b ). The role of psychological characteristics

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Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh, Ralf F. A. Cox, Christophe Gernigon, Nico W. Van Yperen, and Paul L. C. Van Geert

The aim of this study was to examine (1) the temporal structures of variation in rowers’ (natural) ergometer strokes to make inferences about the underlying motor organization, and (2) the relation between these temporal structures and skill level. Four high-skilled and five lower-skilled rowers completed 550 strokes on a rowing ergometer. Detrended Fluctuation Analysis was used to quantify the temporal structure of the intervals between force peaks. Results showed that the temporal structure differed from random, and revealed prominent patterns of pink noise for each rower. Furthermore, the high-skilled rowers demonstrated more pink noise than the lower-skilled rowers. The presence of pink noise suggests that rowing performance emerges from the coordination among interacting component processes across multiple time scales. The difference in noise pattern between high-skilled and lower-skilled athletes indicates that the complexity of athletes’ motor organization is a potential key characteristic of elite performance.

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Erika D. Van Dyke, Judy L. Van Raalte, Elizabeth M. Mullin, and Britton W. Brewer

Little research has explored the relationship between highly skilled athletes’ self-talk and their competitive performance over the course of a season. For the current study, positive, negative, motivational, instructional, and functional dimensions of collegiate gymnasts’ (N = 141) self-talk were assessed. The gymnasts’ competitive balance beam performances in intercollegiate meets were also recorded. Multiple regression analysis revealed that positive self-talk significantly predicted balance beam performance and performance consistency. Significant positive correlations were found among key self-talk variables, except negative self-talk. Significant negative correlations were found between negative self-talk and self-talk functions (i.e., attention, cognitive and emotional control, and confidence). The results highlight the interrelationships among various types and functions of self-talk in competitive settings, and provide evidence for the ways in which self-talk is related to the performance of highly skilled athletes. Suggestions for how these findings might be applied by athletes, coaches, and sport psychology practitioners are provided.

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Yoshiaki Takei, J. Hubert Dunn, Erik P. Blucker, Hiroshi Nohara, and Noriyoshi Yamashita

The 25 highest scored Hecht vaults (G!) performed during the 1995 World Championships were compared with those receiving the 25 lowest scores (G2). Hypotheses were: GI would achieve (a) larger kinetic energy at takeoff from the board and the horse, (b) greater displacements of CM and greater forward body rotation in prellight. (c) greater changes in velocities and angular momentum on horse, (d) more rapid, forceful blocking/pushing off the horse, and (e) greater “amplitude” and better “form” during the post-flight than G2. A 16-mm motion picture camera, operating at 100 Hz. recorded the vaults during the compulsory competition. The results of t tests (p < .005) indicated Gl had (a) larger kinetic energy at takeoff from the board and the horse, (b) greater displacements of CM and greater forward body rotation in pre-flight. (c) greater changes in vertical velocity and angular momentum on the horse. greater vertical impulse of high force and short duration exerted on the horse, and greater “amplitude,” greater backward body rotation, and greater body extension in post-flight than G2. In conclusion, successful performance of the Hecht vault is likely when focus is on sprinting the approach, blocking and pushing off the horse rapidly and vigorously downward, and maintaining the fully extended body position throughout the post-night to display “form” or fish-like body position for a virtuosity bonus point and simultaneously to prepare for a controlled landing on the mat.

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Véronique Richard, Wayne Halliwell, and Gershon Tenenbaum

The study examined the effect of an improvisation intervention on figure skating performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness skills. Nine elite figure skaters participated in a 10-session program based on Cirque du Soleil artistic principles. A mixed methodology using questionnaires, competition scores, and interviews was used to test the program effects on these variables. Descriptive statistics revealed small but imperative increases in competition performance, perceived artistic performance, self-esteem, creativity, and mindfulness. Significant (p < .05) effect of time was revealed only for creativity and artistic performance variables. Qualitative data supported these results. Skaters described verbally that movements were performed more freely, attention was better focused on performance, and they overcame shyness. Quantitative and qualitative data are discussed interactively in relation to performance enhancement and personal growth.

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Timo B. van den Bogaard, Jabik-Jan Bastiaans, and Mathijs J. Hofmijster

Purpose: To investigate how resistance training (RT) in a regular training program affects neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) and gross efficiency (EGROSS) in elite rowers. Methods: Twenty-six elite male rowers performed 4 RT sessions within 10 days. At baseline and after the first and fourth RT, EGROSS and NMF were established. From breathing gas, EGROSS was determined during submaximal rowing tests. Using a countermovement jump test, NMF was assessed by jump height, flight time, flight-to-contraction-time ratio, peak power, and time to peak power. Muscle soreness was assessed using a 10-cm-long visual analog scale. Results: No significant differences were found for EGROSS (P = .565, ω2 = .032). Muscle soreness (P = .00, ω2 = .500) and time to peak power (P = .08, ω2 = 0.238) were higher compared with baseline at all test moments. Flight-to-contraction-time ratio, jump height, and peak power after the fourth RT differed from baseline (P < .05, ω2 = .36, ω2 = .38, and ω2 = .31) and from results obtained after the first RT (P < .05, ω2 = .36, ω2 = .47, and ω2 = .22). Conclusions: RT in general does not influence EGROSS, but large individual differences (4.1%–14.8%) were observed. NMF is affected by RT, particularly after multiple sessions. During periods of intensified RT, imposed external load for low-intensity endurance training need not be altered, but rowers are recommended to abstain from intensive endurance training. Individual monitoring is strongly recommended.

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George W. Lawton, Tsung Min Hung, Pekka Saarela, and Bradley D. Hatfield

High levels of athletic performance are frequently attributed to mental states. Evidence for this attribution comes mainly from phenomenological reports of athletes. However, research with elite performers using electrophysiological measures has tracked changes in nervous system activity in real time during performance, which may further understanding of such states. Specific patterns of psychophysiological activity from the cerebral cortex, in the form of event-related slow potentials (SPs), as well as spectral content measured by electroencephalography (EEG), occur in the few seconds of performance (preshot) preparation. We discuss these data. We suggest that the logical structure of research with athletes differs from other psychophysiological research. We emphasize the theoretical mind-body issues and the logical structure of these investigations to suggest directions for future research.

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Áine MacNamara, Angela Button, and Dave Collins

Given the complexity of the talent development process, it seems likely that a range of psychological factors underpin an athlete’s ability to translate potential into top-class performance. Therefore, the purpose of part one of this two-part investigation was to explore the attributes that facilitate the successful development of athletes from initial involvement to achieving and maintaining world-class status. Seven elite athletes and a parent of each of these athletes were interviewed regarding their own (their son’s/daughter’s) development in sport. Data were content analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Although sporting achievement was conceptualized as being multidimensional, psychological factors were highlighted as the key determinants of those who emerged as talented and maintained excellence. Accordingly, we suggest that talent identification and development programs should place greater emphasis on the advancement and application of psychological behaviors at an early stage to optimize both the development and performance of athletes.

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Áine MacNamara, Angela Button, and Dave Collins

MacNamara, Button, & Collins (under review) proposed that if individuals are to fulfill their potential they must possess and systematically develop a specific set of skills (termed Psychological Characteristics of Developing Excellence or PCDEs) that allow them to interact effectively with the developmental opportunities they are afforded. Given the complexity of the developmental pathway, it may well be that different skills are needed at different stages of development and across different performance domains. Twenty-four elite participants from team sports, individual sports, and music were purposefully sampled from different domains and interviewed on their experiences of their own pathways to excellence. Results suggested that although PCDEs were important throughout development, the manner by which they were deployed depended on stage, domain, and the characteristics of the individual performer. These findings support proposals to systematically incorporate PCDEs into TID practices because these may be the key feature in maintaining progress toward excellence.