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Jeffrey J. Martin and Laurie A. Malone

Although sport psychologists have started to examine elite disability sport, studies of comprehensive mental skill use are rare. In the current study, we examined multidimensional imagery and self-talk, as well as comprehensive mental skills (i.e., coping with adversity, goal setting, concentration, peaking under pressure, being coachable, confident, and feeling free from worry). In addition to descriptive data, we also were interested in the ability of athlete’s mental skills to predict engagement (e.g., being dedicated). Fourteen elite level wheelchair rugby players from the United States participated, and results indicated that athletes employed most mental skills. We accounted for 50% of the variance in engagement with comprehensive mental skills (β = .72, p = .03) contributing the most to the regression equation, while imagery (β = -.02, p = .94) and self-talk (β = -.00, p = .99) were not significant. Athletes who reported using a host of mental skills (e.g., coping with adversity) also reported being engaged (e.g., dedicated, enthused, committed) to wheelchair rugby. Athletes reporting minimal mental skill use were less engaged.

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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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Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Damien Clement, Jennifer J. Hamson-Utley, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Sae-Mi Lee, Cindra Kamphoff, Taru Lintunen, Brian Hemmings and Scott B. Martin

Context:

Existing theoretical frameworks and empirical research support the applicability and usefulness of integrating mental skills throughout sport injury rehabilitation.

Objective:

To determine what, if any, mental skills athletes use during injury rehabilitation, and by who these skills were taught. Cross-cultural differences were also examined.

Design:

Cross-sectional design.

Setting:

College athletes from 5 universities in the United States and a mixture of collegiate, professional, and recreational club athletes from the United Kingdom and Finland were recruited for this study.

Participants:

A total of 1283 athletes from the United States, United Kingdom, and Finland, who participated in diverse sports at varying competitive levels took part in this study.

Main Outcome Measures:

As part of a larger study on athletes’ expectations of injury rehabilitation, participants were asked a series of open-ended and closed-ended questions concerning their use of mental skills during injury rehabilitation.

Results:

Over half (64.0%) of the sample reported previous experience with athletic training, while 27.0% indicated that they used mental skills during injury rehabilitation. The top 3 mental skills reported were goal setting, positive self-talk/positive thoughts, and imagery. Of those athletes that used mental skills, 71.6% indicated that they felt mental skills helped them to rehabilitate faster. A greater proportion of athletes from the United States (33.4%) reported that they used mental skills during rehabilitation compared with athletes from the United Kingdom (23.4%) and Finland (20.3%). A small portion (27.6%) of the participants indicated that their sports medicine professional had taught them how to use mental skills; only 3% were taught mental skills by a sport psychologist.

Conclusions:

The low number of athletes who reported using mental skills during rehabilitation is discouraging, but not surprising given research findings that mental skills are underutilized by injured athletes in the 3 countries examined. More effort should be focused on educating and training athletes, coaches, and sports medicine professionals on the effectiveness of mental training in the injury rehabilitation context.

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Tim Herzog and Kate F. Hays

This article addresses the challenging conundrum of when to offer psychotherapy versus mental skills training. To highlight aspects of this dilemma, we describe actual cases that illustrate different ways in which clients present and practitioners may respond: (1) mental skills training shifting to therapy; (2) therapeutic work shifting to mental skills training; (3) simultaneous work between two practitioners; or (4) alternating services from the same practitioner. A variety of intervention methods are used based on a number of theoretical orientations and perspectives. The article concludes with some recommendations that may assist the performance-oriented practitioner in decision-making regarding the delicate balance between therapy and mental skills training. Suggestions relate specifically to the nature of the referral, the client’s preferences, the practitioner’s perspective and skill sets, a continuous process of appraisal and adaptation, and the central importance of the athlete-practitioner relationship.

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Natalie Durand-Bush, John H. Salmela and Isabelle Green-Demers

The purpose of the present study was to assess the psychometric properties of the Ottawa Mental Skills Assessment Tool (OMSAT-3), an instrument developed to measure a broad range of mental skills (Salmela, 1992). The OMSAT-3 was administered to 335 athletes from 35 different sports. An initial first-order confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) revealed that the model displayed an inadequate fit, which led to the postulation of a more robust version, the OMSAT-3*. A CFA on this latter version, which included 48 items and 12 mental skill scales grouped under three broader conceptual components—foundation, psychosomatic, and cognitive skills—indicated that the proposed model fit well the data. A second-order CFA assessing the validity of the three broader conceptual components also yielded adequate indices of fit. The OMSAT-3* significantly discriminated between competitive and elite level athletes and its scales yielded acceptable internal consistency and temporal stability. Implications for consultants, coaches, and researchers 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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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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John F. Mathers

Success on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour requires a specific blend of perceptuomotor abilities, technical proficiency, tactical awareness and mental skills. This case study describes the competitive structure of professional tennis and outlines the program of mental skills delivered to a professional tennis player over a 3-year period. The program embraced five stages: (1) education; (2) assessment/profiling; (3) mental skill learning; (4) application of mental skills in context and (5) evaluation, and was associated with some positive outcomes. This case study provides some possible guidelines for sport psychologists who may wish to provide consultancy services within professional tennis.