The effect of mental training on the performance of young male gymnasts

Smith, Hendrik Johannes (2001-12)

Thesis (MSc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examined the effect of a mental training program on the performance of eight-tonine- year-old male gymnasts in the acquisition and execution of a newly learned gymnastic element, namely the headspring. Twenty-five gymnasts, all with one-year experience in gymnastics, were tested on the four prerequisite elements for the headspring. The selected group was randomly assigned to an experimental and a control group respectively. The experimental group received six weekly mental training interventions, consisting of an adapted progressive relaxation approach with deepening techniques and imagery. In addition to the mental training interventions the experimental group took part in the weekly physical training program. The control group only received the physical training. The gymnasts were evaluated on a daily basis to monitor their progress. The headspring was evaluated by means of a post-intervention testing. A pre- and post-intervention interview was also conducted with all the gymnasts to determine qualitatively whether the mental training influenced the gymnasts' physical symptoms, cognitions and emotions during a competition situation. Interjudge reliability coefficients were also calculated for the pre- and posttests in order to establish to what degree the judges evaluated the elements uniformly. The results of the daily-progression testing indicated that the control group performed significantly better than the experimental group on one occasion, namely the session before the first mental training session was introduced to the experimental group. The experimental group, however, performed significantly better than the control group on two occasions just before and just after the third mental training session. The results of the post-intervention testing indicated that the experimental group did not perform significantly better than the control group during the execution of the headspring. The experimental group did, however, show a clear non-significant tendency to perform better than the control group during the daily-progression testing and the post-intervention testing. The pre- and post-intervention interviews indicated that the control group, in comparison with the experimental group, reported the same number of positive physical symptoms, cognitions and emotions before and after the experiment. The experimental group reported fewer positive physical symptoms during a competition situation, but more thoughts about the correct execution of the headspring and more positive emotions during competitions were reported after the experiment. The inter-judge reliability coefficients indicated that the judges evaluated the elements in the pretest more uniformly.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Met hierdie studie is gepoog om vas te stel watter effek 'n sielkundige inoefeningsprogram met die aanleer en uitvoering van 'n nuutaangeleerde gimnastiekelement, naamlik die kopwip, op agt- tot nege-jarige seunsgimnaste gehad het. Vyf en twingtig gimnaste, wat almal een jaar gimnastiekondervinding het, is getoets met betrekking tot die vier voorvereistes van die kopwip. Die geselekteerde groep is ewekansig ingedeel in 'n eksperimentele en kontrolegroep onderskeidelik. Die eksperimentele groep het ses weeklike sielkundige inoefeningsessies gehad, bestaande uit 'n gewysigde progressiewe ontspanningsbenadering met verdiepingstegnieke en visualisering. Benewens die sielkundige inoefeningsprogram is hulle weekliks aan die fisiese afrigtingsprogram blootgestel. Die kontrolegroep het slegs die fisiese afrigtingsprogram ontvang. Al die subjekte is op 'n daaglikse basis geëvalueer om hul stapsgewyse vordering te monitor. Die kopwip as geheel is deur middel van 'n natoets geëvalueer. 'n Voor- en na-onderhoud is met elke gimnas gevoer om kwalitatief vas te stelof die eksperiment 'n verandering m die gimnaste se rapportering van fisiese simptome, kognisies en emosies tydens 'n kompetisie teweeggebring het. lnterbeoordelaarbetroubaarheidskoeffisiënte is bereken vir beide die voor- en natoets om te bepaal tot watter mate die drie beoordelaars se punte ooreengestem het. Die resultate van die daaglikse evaluering toon dat die kontrolegroep tydens een toetsgeleentheid, naamlik die sessie voor die eerste sielkundige inoefeningsessie op die eksperimentele groep toegepas is, beduidend beter as die eksperimentele groep gevaar het. Die eksprimentele groep het egter by twee toetsgeleenthede, naamlik dié net voor en net na die derde sielkundige inoefeningsessie beduidend beter as die kontrolegroep gevaar. Die resultate van die natoets toon dat die eksperimentele groep nie beduidend beter as die kontrolegroep tydens die uitvoering van die kopwip as geheel gevaar het nie. Die eksperimentele groep het 'n nie-beduidende tendens getoon om beter te presteer tydens die daaglikse evaluering en tydens die natoets. Die voor- en na-onderhoude het getoon dat die kontrolegroep, in vergelyking met die eksperimentele groep, dieselfde hoeveelheid positiewe fisiese simptome, kognisies en emosies na die eksperiment gerapporteer het. Die eksperimentele groep het minder positiewe, fisiese simptome na afloop van die eksperiment gerapporteer, maar verbreding van hul kognisies rakende die korrekte uitvoering van die kopwip en die toon van meer positiewe emosies tydens kompetisies is na afloop van die ondersoek gerapporteer. Die interbeoordelaar-betroubaarheidskoeffisiënte het getoon dat die beoordelaars meer eenvormig tydens die voortoets beoordeel het.

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