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Gretchen Kerr and Larry Leith

The authors investigated the effects of a stress-management program on performance, mental rehearsal, attentional skills, and competitive anxiety. The subjects included 24 male and female, international-caliber gymnasts, matched into pairs and assigned to either an experimental or control group. Over an 8-month period, both groups completed attentional, competitive anxiety, and mental rehearsal inventories and received performance scores from competitions. The experimental group received a stress-management program, based upon Meichenbaum’s stress inoculation training. Compared with the control group, the experimental group demonstrated superior performance, mental rehearsal, and attentional skills. Competitive anxiety levels were significantly higher for the experimental group, perhaps due to an increase in facilitative rather than debilitative anxiety. Specific implications for optimizing athletic performance are discussed.

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James O. Davis

Several studies report that psychological factors, especially stress, are related to sports injuries, and while stress management techniques have often been found to facilitate sport performance, these reports have not included information about the effects of stress intervention on injury rates. This article reexamines two sport psychology programs by investigating the injury data collected by athletic training personnel before, during, and after two university varsity teams practiced progressive relaxation during team workouts. Major findings include a 52% reduction in injuries for swimmers and a 33% reduction in serious injuries for football players. Discussion focuses on methods of injury data collection by sport psychologists, questions about the nature of the stress/injury relationship, and possible interventions.

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Susan G. Ziegler, James Klinzing and Kirk Williamson

The effects of two stress management programs on the cardiorespiratory efficiency of eight male cross-country runners were investigated. Oxygen consumption and heart rate data were monitored on a maximal oxygen consumption tradmill run. A week later each subject completed a 20-min submaximal run (at a constant workload approximating 50% of each subject's maximal oxygen consumption run). Based on these scores, subjects were divided into three groups: control, stress innoculation training, and stress management training. Subjects in both training groups completed a mental training program including EMG relaxation training, cognitive coping strategies, and one type of imagery training. Results of the 20-min post submaximal run indicated significant differences in cardiorespiratory efficiency between both training groups and the control group. No differences emerged between the training groups.

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Ian W. Maynard and Peter C.J. Cotton

The aim of this study was to investigate Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, and Smith’s (1990) contention that stress-management techniques should be matched to the symptoms manifested by performers. Subjects, 20 male collegiate field hockey players, responded to the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) on four occasions prior to an important hockey match. Subjects were then placed in two intervention groups: applied relaxation (somatic anxiety; n = 6) and positive thought control (cognitive anxiety; n = 8). Six additional subjects formed the control group. Subjects completed a 12-week intervention in a field setting. Results suggested that reducing anxiety with a method directed at the performer’s dominant anxiety type is more efficacious. A secondary aim was to further investigate the anxiety-performance relationship using an intraindividual performance measure. Somatic anxiety was found to account for 22% of the variance in field hockey performance. Polynomial trend analyses failed to produce significant relationships between the CSAI-2 subscales and performance.

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Peter R.E. Crocker, Rikk B. Alderman, F. Murray and R. Smith

Cognitive-Affective Stress Management Training (SMT) is a coping skills training program designed to help athletes control dysfunctional stress processes (Smith, 1980). The present quasi-experimental study investigated the effects of SMT on affect, cognition, and performance in high performance youth volleyball players. Members of Alberta's Canada Games men's and women's (under 19 years of age) volleyball teams were assigned to either an experimental treatment group or a waiting-list control group. The treatment program consisted of eight modules, approximately 1 week apart, that allowed subjects to learn and apply somatic and cognitive coping skills. The results indicated that the treatment group emitted fewer negative thoughts in response to videotaped stressors and had superior service reception performance in a controlled practice compared to the control group. There were no interpretable differences between groups for either state anxiety (CSAI-2) or trait anxiety (SCAT). The cognitive and performance measures provided converging support for Smith's program. The results are discussed in terms of coping skills training, theoretical issues regarding the measurement of anxiety, and possible affect-cognition system independence.

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Michel Nicolas, Patrick Gaudreau and Véronique Franche

This study examined the relationship between perceived coaching behaviors, coping strategies during a sport competition, and sport achievement. A prospective design was used in which 80 athletes from individual sports completed measures of perceived coaching behaviors two days before a competition (Time 1) and measures of coping and sport achievement within three hours after a sport competition (Time 2). As expected, results of multiple regressions indicated that supportive coaching was a positive predictor of task-oriented coping and sport achievement whereas unsupportive coaching was a positive predictor of disengagement-oriented coping. Both types of coping were significantly associated with sport achievement. Task-oriented coping was a significant partial mediator in the relation between supportive coaching and sport achievement. This study, which contributes to both the coaching and coping literatures, highlights the role of supportive coaching behaviors in the initiation of effective stress management during sport competitions.

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Christin Lang, Anna Karina Feldmeth, Serge Brand, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, Uwe Pühse and Markus Gerber

In most physical education (PE) syllabuses, promoting life skills constitutes an important educational objective. The aim of this study was to implement a coping training program (EPHECT) within regular PE and to evaluate its effects on coping and stress among vocational students. Eight classes from a vocational school were selected for study; four were allocated to the intervention group (IG) and four to the control group (CG). The study examined intervention effects between pre- and postintervention, and postintervention and 6-months follow-up. Compared with the CG, the IG showed improved coping skills from pre- to postintervention. From postintervention to follow-up, stress decreased for the IG. A path analysis suggests an indirect effect on stress perception at follow-up via improved adaptive coping skills. The findings support EPHECT as a positive contribution to the development of adaptive coping skills. The project further shows how physical educators can translate psychological theory into practice.

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David A. Kaiser

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Kent C. Scriber and Mark H. Alderman