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Experiences of Peak Performance in Elite American Football

Andy Gillham and Craig Stone

attributed 40–90% of their success in sport to mental factors. Anderson, Hanrahan, and Mallet ( 2014 ) highlighted that elite athletes constantly strive to achieve a superior state of psychological functioning in order to achieve peak performance. Krane and Williams ( 2006 ) noted that athletes report

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Biofeedback and Visualization for Peak Performance

Kathleen U. Farmer

Peak performance is trainable through biofeedback, autogenic relaxation or quieting the mind, and visualization while in a theta brain wave state. How to achieve this integration of body, mind, and spirit is described in the following article. Research substantiates that mental practice in a receptive mind activates specific parts of the brain and ultimately enhances performance when the physical movements are acted out. Because most athletes are kinesthetic learners, their “visualizations” need to be complete experiences, encompassing sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and muscular sensations. This article presents techniques that clinicians can learn and pass on to athletes in their care.

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Between-Seasons Variability of Cyclists’ Peak Performance: A Longitudinal Analysis of “Real-World” Power Output Data in Male Professional Cyclists

Pedro L. Valenzuela, Manuel Mateo-March, Xabier Muriel, Mikel Zabala, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallares

performance for a given cyclist between seasons, as well as to discriminate performance changes from changes outside the “expected” variability. 6 The aim of this study was to describe the within-subject variability in peak performance (assessed through the RPP) in professional cyclists across different

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An Exploratory Study on Peak Performance in Golf

Patrick J. Cohn

A qualitative study investigated the psychological characteristics of peak performance in golf. Nineteen professional and collegiate golfers (ages (19–38) participated in structured open-ended interviews. A content analysis of the interviews revealed that certain psychological qualities of peak performance exist among golfers. During peak performance the golfers were highly focused and immersed in the task at hand, performed effortlessly and automatically, felt physically relaxed and mentally calm, and felt in control of themselves and their performance. In addition, the golfers had no fear of negative consequences, maintained high self-confidence, and experienced fun and enjoyment. These results corroborate other studies examining peak performance with athletes in different sports. The results are discussed and suggestions are made for striving toward a unique and superior mental state.

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Peak Performance and the Perils of Retrospective Introspection

Britton W. Brewer, Judy L. Van Raalte, Darwyn E. Linder, and Nancy S. Van Raalte

Three experiments were conducted to determine which remembered qualities of the peak performance state are robust and to investigate whether recall biases may affect accounts of peak experiences. In the first experiment, introductory psychology students rated psychological characteristics of their best, average, and worst sport performances. Focused attention and confidence were the qualities most strongly identified with peak performance. The second experiment replicated and extended these findings in a sample of intercollegiate cross-country runners and tennis players. In the third experiment, subjects (a) completed a pursuit rotor task; (b) were randomly assigned to receive success, failure, or no feedback; and (c) rated their psychological state during performance. Results indicated that the bogus performance feedback significantly affected ratings of psychological states experienced during performance. Subjects given success feedback perceived themselves as being more confident and focused on the task than subjects given failure feedback. Implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed.

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Positive Performance States of Athletes: Toward a Conceptual Understanding of Peak Performance

Susan A. Jackson and Glyn C. Roberts

This study investigated relationships among peak performance, flow, goal orientation, and perceived ability in an attempt to ascertain possible conceptual bases to peak performance. Collegiate athletes (N=200) answered a questionnaire that assessed mastery and competitive goal orientations, perceived ability, flow, and experience in best and worst competitive performances. It was hypothesized that the psychological process of flow underlies peak performance and is associated with a mastery oriented focus and high perceived ability. These predicted relationships were supported by both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Analysis of athletes’ best performances indicated a total focus on performance, and other characteristics of flow were key to the perception of a superior state of functioning. In contrast, overconcern with the outcome, reflecting a competitive orientation, was often associated with athletes’ worst performances. These associations suggest that investigating positive performance states from a motivational standpoint may lead to greater understanding of the underlying conceptual bases of peak athletic performance.

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Supercompensation Kinetics of Physical Qualities During a Taper in Team-Sport Athletes

Bruno Marrier, Julien Robineau, Julien Piscione, Mathieu Lacome, Alexis Peeters, Christophe Hausswirth, Jean-Benoît Morin, and Yann Le Meur

Peaking for major competition is considered critical for maximizing team-sport performance. However, there is little scientific information available to guide coaches in prescribing efficient tapering strategies for team-sport players.


To monitor the changes in physical performance in elite team-sport players during a 3-wk taper after a preseason training camp.


Ten male international rugby sevens players were tested before (Pre) and after (Post) a 4-wk preseason training camp focusing on high-intensity training and strength training with moderate loads and once each week during a subsequent 3-wk taper. During each testing session, midthigh-pull maximal strength, sprint-acceleration mechanical outputs, and performance, as well as repeated-sprint ability (RSA), were assessed.


At Post, no single peak performance was observed for maximal lower-limb force output and sprint performance, while RSA peaked for only 1 athlete. During the taper, 30-m-sprint time decreased almost certainly (–3.1% ± 0.9%, large), while maximal lower-limb strength and RSA, respectively, improved very likely (+7.7% ± 5.3%, small) and almost certainly (+9.0% ± 2.6%, moderate). Of the peak performances, 70%, 80%, and 80% occurred within the first 2 wk of taper for RSA, maximal force output, and sprint performance, respectively.


These results show the sensitivity of physical qualities to tapering in rugby sevens players and suggest that an ~1- to 2-wk tapering time frame appears optimal to maximize the overall physical-performance response.

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Reliability of a Peak Performance Treadmill Test for Children and Adolescents with and without Mental Retardation

Kenneth H. Pitetti, A. Lynn Millar, and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to compare test-retest reliability when measuring peak physiological capacities of children and adolescents (age = 13.6 ± 2.9 yr) with mental retardation (MR) and their peers (12.0 ± 2.9 yr) without mental retardation (NMR) using a discontinuous treadmill (TM) protocol. Forty-six participants (23 MR = 12 male and 11 female; 23 NMR = 12 male and 11 female) completed two peak performance treadmill tests with 3 to 7 days of rest between tests. Physiological values measured included V̇O2peak (1 $$ min-1 and ml $$ kg-1 $$ min-1), V̇Epeak (1 $$ mhr-1), HRpeak (bpm), and RER (V̇O2 $$ V̇O2 -1). Test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from .85 to .99 for participants with MR and from .55 to .99 for participants without MR. Test reliability and accuracy in the present study does not appear to differ between the NMR and MR participants.

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Effect of Sildenafil Citrate on Exercise Capacity in Athletes With Spinal Cord Injury

Claudio Perret, Debbie Van Biesen, Matthias Strupler, Pia Pit-Grosheide, and Yves Vanlandewijck

with both the sildenafil and the placebo conditions at 2200 m, a significantly lower ( P  = .006) peak performance was measured under moderate altitude exposure (Figure  1 ). As expected, blood oxygen saturation at sea level was significantly higher than that at moderate altitude; however, sildenafil

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Shared Zones of Optimal Functioning: A Framework to Capture Peak Performance, Momentum, Psycho–Bio–Social Synchrony, and Leader–Follower Dynamics in Teams

Edson Filho

, arts, and science ( Shenk, 2014 ). The approach proposed herein can help to advance understanding of the mechanisms that explain not only peak performance, but also creative endeavors in team settings. Limitations and Future Research First, as discussed throughout, previous research suggests that