A profile and training programme of psychological skills for track and field athletes

Lawless, Freda Janet (2013-12)

Thesis (MScSportSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to compile a sport psychological skills profile of track and field athletes and to determine whether a purposefully-developed psychological-skills training (PST) programme would affect this profile and athletic performance. The study was conducted in two phases. During the first phase 143 student athletes completed sport psychological skills questionnaires before competing in the 2011 University Sport South Africa (USSA) Athletics Championship. The athletes’ perceived importance of psychological skills, psychologically preparedness, and need for psychological skills training were investigated. The athletes’ best performances at the championship were recorded and their IAAF performance points calculated. The majority of the athletes perceived PST as important. However, in contrast, a large percentage was uncertain about their need for PST programmes and, alarmingly, most of the athletes under-utilized the services of sport psychologists. This could possibly indicate a resistance to PST. Overall, the results revealed poor sport psychological skill levels. Only the achievement motivation and goal directedness dimensions showed satisfactory results. Effect sizes were used to compare the sport psychological skill levels of more and less successful athletes. This revealed significant differences between the respective groups. The within-group comparisons showed that the more successful sprinters outscored the less successful sprinters in the subscales of stress control and achievement motivation. Achievement motivation was the only aspect that differed significantly between the more and less successful middle and long-distance athletes. Among the jumpers, confidence and stress control distinguished between the top and bottom athletes. The more successful throwers recorded higher imagery and achievement motivation scores than the less successful throwers. The results from the first phase were used to develop a PST programme aimed at improving the sport psychological skill levels and performance of student track and field athletes. In Phase Two, athletes from Stellenbosch University were divided into an experimental (n = 24) and control group (n = 18). Both groups underwent pre and post-testing of the same psychological skills questionnaires used in the first phase, whilst their athletic performances were recorded on both occasions. The experimental group participated in a PST programme consisting of seven sessions which covered the following topics: achievement motivation, goal-directedness, managing somatic anxiety, managing cognitive anxiety, self-confidence, concentration, and imagery. In addition to these sessions daily activities and assignments were completed in a workbook. The effectiveness of the PST programme in improving the athletes’ sport psychological skills levels is evident from the improvements observed in nine of the eleven subscales among the experimental group opposed to four skills among the control group. Inexplicably, the control group’s athletic performance improved significantly more than that of the experimental group. Further research into the role and effectiveness of PST in track and field is recommended.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie was om ’n sportsielkundige vaardigheidsprofiel vir baan- en veldatlete saam te stel en om te bepaal tot watter mate ’n sportsielkundige vaardigheidsprogram (SVP) hierdie profiel en atletiekprestasie sal beïnvloed. Die navorsing het uit twee fases bestaan. Gedurende fase een het 143 studente-atlete verskeie sportsielkundige vraelyste voltooi voor deelname aan die 2011 Suid-Afrikaanse Studente-Atletiekkampioenskappe (USSA). Die atlete se persepsie oor die belangrikheid van sielkundige vaardighede, sielkundige voorbereiding en behoefte aan onderrig in sielkundige vaardighede is ondersoek. Die atlete se beste vertonings tydens die kampioenskappe is gemonitor en hul IAAF- prestasiepunte bereken. Die meerderheid van hierdie atlete het aangedui dat sportsielkundige vaardigheidsontwikkeling belangrik is, maar in teensteling hiermee het ’n groot persentasie aangedui dat hulle onseker is oor hul behoefte aan sportsielkundige vaardigheidsontwikkeling. Die bevinding dat die meerderheid van die atlete nie genoegsaam van sportsielkundige dienste gebruik maak nie, is kommerwekkend. Hierdie verskynsel kan op ’n weerstand teen sportsielkundige vaardigheids-ontwikkeling dui. In geheel het die sportsielkundige profiel van hierdie baan- en veldatlete swak vertoon, behalwe vir prestasiemotivering en doelgerigtheid wat bevredigende resultate opgelewer het. Effekgroottes is gebruik om die sportsielkundige vaardighede van minder en meer suksesvolle atlete met mekaar vergelyk. Dit het beduidende verskille tussen die groepe opgelewer. Die binnegroepvergelykings het getoon dat meer suksesvolle naellopers hoër tellings as minder suksesvolle naellopers in die volgende subskale behaal het: stresbeheer en prestasiemotivering. Prestasiemotivering was ook die enigste subskaal wat tussen meer en minder suksesvolle middel- en langafstandatlete kon onderskei. Selfvertroue en stresbeheer was twee aspekte wat tussen meer en minder suksesvolle springers gediskrimineer het. Prestasiemotivering en beelding was die enigste sportsielkundige dimensies wat tussen meer en minder suksesvolle gooiers kon onderskei. Die meer suksesvolle gooiers het beter vlakke met betrekking tot hierdie twee subskale getoon. Die resultate van die eerste fase is gebruik om ’n sportsielkundige intervensieprogram te ontwikkel waardeur sielkundige vaardighede en prestasie van tersiêre baan- en veldatlete verbeter kan word. In die tweede fase is atlete van die Stellenbosch Universiteit in ’n eksperimentele- (n = 24) en kontrolegroep (n = 18) verdeel. Beide groepe het dieselfde sportsielkundige vraelyste as in die eerste fase, voor en na afloop van die intervensieprogram, waaraan die eksperimentele groep meegedoen het, voltooi. Alle deelnemers se atletiekprestasies is voor en na afloop van die intervensieprogram genoteer. Die eksperimentele groep het aan die ontwikkelde sportsielkundige vaardigheidsprogram deelgeneem wat uit die volgende sewe sessies bestaan het: prestasiemotivering, doelgerigtheid, somatiese angsbeheer, kognitiewe angsbeheer, selfvertroue, konsentrasie en beelding. Hierdie sessies is deur daaglikse aktiwiteite aangevul en opdragte wat in ’n werkboek voltooi moes word. Die effektiwiteit van die program in die ontwikkeling van sielkundige vaardighede blyk duidelik uit die bevinding dat die eksperimentele groep betekenisvolle verbeteringe getoon het in nege uit elf sportsielkundige vaardighede teenoor die vier vaardighede wat by die kontrolegroep verbeter het. ’n Onverklaarbare bevinding was egter dat die kontrolegroep se atletiekprestasies betekenisvol meer verbeter het as die eksperimentele groep s’n. Verdere navorsing oor die rol en effektiwiteit van sportsielkundige vaardigheidsontwikkeling in atletiek word aanbeveel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85644
This item appears in the following collections: