Psychological skill usage and its impact upon elite and non-elite athletes in non-contact sports.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The main purpose of this study was to examine the psychological skill usage between four elite and four non-elite athletes, participating in noncontact sports. A qualitative approach was used to examine the effect of the 4 psychological skills of goal setting, imagery, self-talk and relaxation, in training and competition. Two semi-structured interviews were completed by eight athletes, which allowed the athletes to provide detailed responses of how they use psychological skills in training and competition. Interviews were transcribed and inductive and deductive analysis took place, enabling themes and patterns to be identified. The data was presented via causal networks showing the relationship that each psychological skill had upon performance in training and competition, between elite and non-elite athletes. All athletes reported that they use self-talk during competition to increase their performance. However, not all participants reported using all of the psychological skills. One non-elite athlete stated that they used all of the psychological skills in competition, resulting in improved performance. Furthermore, elite athletes also used imagery during competition to enhance performance. The findings state that elite and non-elite athletes, experience improved performance using psychological skills in training and competition. However, results revealed that elite athletes place more thought prior to competition of why, how and when they would use them, compared to nonelite, who use them when they “feel the time is right”. Psychological skills need to be fully understood by athletes, coaches and psychologists to ensure they are used appropriately and to understand which ones are best, to enhance the likelihood of improving an athlete’s performance.
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