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Paul R. Ashbrook, Andrew Gillham and Douglas Barba

) have noted, mental-skills training (MST) is the use of tools and techniques to develop the naturally occurring mental skills of athletes. Although the use of MST to enhance sport performance has been supported anecdotally ( Gordin & Henschen, 1989 ; Orlick, 1989 ) and empirically ( Cohen, Tenenbaum

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Daniel Gould, Nicole Damarjian and Russell Medbery

The effects of mental skills training in youth sport have been well documented (Efran, Lessor, & Spiller, 1994; Li-Wei, Qi-Wei, Orlick, & Zitzelsberger, 1992; Wanlin, Hrycaiko, Martin, & Mahon, 1997). This investigation focused on understanding why mental skills training information is not being used by junior tennis coaches and identifying better ways to convey this information to coaches. Focus-group interviews were conducted with 20 elite junior tennis coaches. Results revealed a need for more mental skills training coach education on content information. Understanding how to teach mental skills was also emphasized, as was the need for coaches to become more comfortable with this process. Coaches suggested that mental skills training information could be made more user-friendly through development of hands-on concrete examples and activities, increased mental skills training resources (particularly audio and video formats), and involvement in mental skills coach education efforts.

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Richard C. Thelwell and Iain A. Greenlees

The present study examined the effects of a mental skills training package on competitive gymnasium triathlon performance and evaluated the utilization and impacts of the mental skills during performance. Four participants competed against each other on ten occasions in a single-subject multiple baseline across individuals design, which was used to evaluate an intervention package including goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and self-talk. The results indicated the mental skills package to be effective in enhancing all participants’ competitive triathlon performance and usage of mental skills from baseline to intervention phases. Qualitative data revealed that each of the mental skills were employed both prior to and during each triathlon and had varying impacts depending on when they were utilized. Issues regarding mental skill effectiveness and usage within competitive endurance performance are discussed.

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Marsha L. Blakeslee and Dennis M. Goff

The present study examined the effectiveness of a mental skills training (MST) package employing relaxation, imagery, goal setting, and self-talk (strategies for improving performance and perceptions through cognitive-somatic techniques) on equestrian performance. A stratified random sample of 17 competitive collegiate horseback riders participated in this study: 8 received MST and 9 were controls. Riders’ goal orientation was also assessed and used to determine if there might be a relationship with performance change over time. Assessment of participants via performance in 2 horse shows revealed no interaction effect for group by time in either flat or show-jumping performance, but there was a significant main effect of time for performance improvement. Riders demonstrated a dominant mastery-approach goal orientation as hypothesized, but no significant correlations with performance change emerged. Findings do not rule out MST as a possible performance enhancing technique, but more research is needed to assess nomothetic MST package effects.

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E. Earlynn Lauer, Mark Lerman, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek and Larry Lauer

( Harwood, 2008 ; Henriksen, Stambulova, & Roessler, 2010 ). Mental skills training (MST) programs are typically designed to teach performers mental strategies (e.g., breathing, imagery, self-talk, journaling) in order to develop various mental skills (e.g., self-confidence, attentional focus; Vealey

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Stephen J. Bull

Adherence to mental-skills training has received little empirical investigation despite the recent growth and development in applied sport psychology services. The present study was designed to identity personal and situational variables influencing adherence to a mental training program. Volunteer athletes (N=34) were given a 4-week educational program before being left to train on their own for an experimental period of 8 weeks. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three treatment intervention conditions (control, written reminders, and group meetings) designed to influence adherence behavior. Results demonstrated the influence of self-motivation in predicting mental-training adherence, but the interventions had no significant effect. Adherence levels were generally low but variable between athletes. Interviews with the athletes indicated the need for individualization of training programs, and problems of time constraints were identified as being influential in the adherence process. Comparable athletes (N—18) who chose not to volunteer for the mental training program were psychometrically tested and demonstrated lower sport motivation than the volunteer athletes but greater skill in concentration.

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Craig A. Wrisberg, Duncan Simpson, Lauren A. Loberg, Jenny L. Withycombe and Ann Reed

In the current study NCAA Division I student-athletes (n = 2,440) completed a Web-based survey assessing their willingness to seek mental skills training, perceptions of the potential benefits of mental training for their team, and support of possible roles for a sport psychology consultant at their institution. Multiple chi-square tests revealed significant (p < .001) dependence of respondents’ ratings on gender, sport type (individual vs. team), prior experience with a sport psychology consultant, and perceived effectiveness of prior experience (low, moderate, high). Generally, females were more receptive than males, individual and team sport athletes were interested in different types of mental skills, athletes with prior consulting experience were more open than those with none, and athletes with highly effective prior experience were more receptive than those with less effective experience. These findings extend previous research examining collegiate student-athletes’ attitudes toward sport psychology consulting and provide several important insights for consultants conducting mental skills training for NCAA Division I level athletes.

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Richard C. Thelwell and Iain A. Greenlees

The present study examined the effects of a mental skills training package on gymnasium triathlon performance. Five participants took part in a single-subject multiple baseline across individuals design, which was used to evaluate an intervention package including goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and selftalk. The results of the study indicated the mental skills package to be effective in enhancing triathlon performance for all five participants. Additionally, all participants increased their usage of mental skills from baseline to intervention phases. Follow-up social validation checks indicated all participants to have perceived the intervention to be successful and enjoyable, and all were satisfied with delivery and content of the package. In conclusion, the findings provide further evidence to suggest mental skills training packages to be effective for endurance performance.

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Sandy Gordon

This article describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a mental skills training program for a professional cricket team. Formally initiated in 1987, the educational philosophy and style of operation of this program has evolved to accommodate three other younger representative teams—students from a local cricket academy—in addition to the unique requirements of senior professionals in the state team. A mental skills workbook represents a key resource to the professional team in a service that remains strictly optional. A model of elite cricketer development is presented, and six key mental skill areas are described together with four groups of recurring problems. Good one-on-one skills, a flexible nonacademic style, and good observational abilities have helped to facilitate effective consulting. In addition, regular evaluation by athletes and an excellent working relationship with an enlightened coach has been critical to both program design and implementation.

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Lee-Ann Sharp, Charlotte Woodcock, Mark J.G. Holland, Jennifer Cumming and Joan L. Duda

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of a mental skills training (MST) program for male youth elite rugby athletes. Three focus groups were held with 21 under-16 male rugby athletes and four male coaches involved in the MST program to examine the quality of service delivery, athlete responses to the MST program, the mental qualities used by athletes, and its perceived influence on athlete performance. Following inductive-deductive content analysis, 40 subcategories and 16 categories emerged. Participants believed the MST program to be an interactive, well-planned program that increased athlete understanding of MST methods and awareness of MST strategies to manage rugby performance. Athletes thought it important that their coaches develop a greater knowledge and understanding of MST methods. Finally, athletes perceived the MST skills and methods they learnt through the MST program were transferable to other sports and areas of their life outside of rugby (e.g., school).