Psychology of the elite athlete: An exploratory study
Thirteen male gymnasts were given a standard questionnaire and interviewed during the final trials for the U.S. Olympic team. Particular attention was given to psychological factors and cognitive strategies in their training and competition. Using their final competitive grouping as the primary dependent variable, correlations were performed to assess the relationship between these factors and superior athletic performance. Data from this exploratory study suggested that varying patterns of cognition may be strongly correlated with successful and superior gymnastic performance. Specifically, dream frequency, self-verbalizations, and certain forms of mental imagery seemed to differentiate the best gymnasts from those who failed to make the Olympic team. These two groups also appeared to show different anxiety patterns and different methods of coping with competitive stress. The implications of these results for sport psychology are briefly discussed.
KeywordsCognitive Psychology Exploratory Study Psychological Factor Standard Questionnaire Cognitive Strategy
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bannister, R.The four-minute mile. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1955.Google Scholar
- Corbin, C. B. Mental practice. In W. P. Morgan (Ed.),Ergogenic aids and muscular performance. New York: Academic Press, 1972. Pp. 93–118.Google Scholar
- Fenz, W. D. Strategies for coping with stress. In I. G. Sarason & C. D. Spielberger (Eds.),Stress and anxiety (Vol. 2). New York: Wiley, 1975. Pp. 305–336.Google Scholar
- Harris, D. V.Involvement in sport: A somatopsychic rationale for physical activity. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1973.Google Scholar
- Landers, D. M., Harris, D. V., & Christina, R. W. (Eds.).Psychology of sport and motor behavior: II. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
- Mahoney, M. J.Cognition and behavior modification. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger, 1974.Google Scholar
- Martens, R. Trait and state anxiety. In W. P. Morgan (Ed.),Ergogenic aids and muscular performance. New York: Academic Press, 1972. Pp. 35–66.Google Scholar
- Martens, R.Social psychology and physical activity. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.Google Scholar
- Michener, J. A.Sports in America. New York: Random House, 1976.Google Scholar
- Morgan, W. P. Sport psychology. In R. N. Singer (Ed.),The psychomotor domain: Movement behavior. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1972.Google Scholar
- Smith, L. E. (Ed.).Psychology of motor learning. Chicago: The Athletic Institute, 1970.Google Scholar
- Vanek, M., & Cratty, B. J.Psychology and the superior athlete. New York: Macmillan, 1970.Google Scholar