Chapter 14 Summary
- Performance anxiety is so common it is
pretty much seen as normal, but it becomes a problem when
it interferes with sporting performance.
- It is future orientated and produces
many physiological symptoms.
- It happens in all sports but is most
prevalent in those sports with high motoric activity.
- It is often described by the Yerkes–Dodson
law but this idea is thought to be rather descriptive and
some think faulty.
- Catastrophy theory is thought by some
to describe it better while others point out that the experience
of arousal is very important.
- We can ‘fix’ anxiety
by a number of behavioural and cognitive methods and develop
strategies for understanding and coping with our anxieties.
Aggression in sport
- Defining aggression is quite easy but
often commentators, pundits and coaches use the term incorrectly,
which leads to a general confusion about the concept.
- Aggression is common in sport because
it is common in life. Sport is meant to be a socially acceptable
means of expressing aggression and many promote its cathartic
- Mostly though, researchers believe that
witnessing sporting aggression tends to make people more
not less aggressive. This is not true for all sports.
- All too often aggression is reinforced
in sport and this in turn tends to teach people to be more
- Aggression does not occur in all
sports and even those where it is common psychologists have
identified a number of mediating factors which make it more,
or less, likely to happen.
- The idea that audiences affect
performance has been around for a long time.
- Trying to figure out how it works has
been a thorn in the side of psychology for many years.
- Zajonc had an elegant theory which said
that audiences increased drive or arousal, that this arousal
made performing novel tasks in front of an audience difficult
but we can often perform well-rehearsed tasks better.
- Glaser and others pointed out several
problems with this theory.
- Slightly more modern theories of social
facilitation try to be less overarching and can be applied
more directly to sport.
- These more focused ideas can enable
us to understand more of what goes on in when an athlete
competes in front of a crowd.
Groups and teams
- The way in which a team interacts is
to do with roles, norms and cohesion.
- Whilst we may be able to identify what
kind of team we need to win, having it and making it work
are two different things.
- Process losses ‘get in the way’
of the team reaching its maximum potential.
- The Ringelmann effect is one example
of where individuals do try as hard as they could.
- The more cohesive a team the better
it plays and that cohesion is often related to more group
socializing off the field.
- There is a difference between a coach
and a manager.
- The trait approach says that managers
are born, not made.
- The behavioural approach says that individuals
can learn to manage and can learn to manage better too.
- The interactionist approach says
that the secret to leadership is to to get the right kind
of manager in the right place.
- ‘Credulous’ psychologists
believe that personality is an important part of sporting
- ‘Sceptical’ psychologists
- Personality as a subject divides up into
state and trait theorists.
- Traits are permanent, stable parts of
personality whereas states are not.
- Traits make predictions about the future
easier than states which are better at describing what goes
on in a particular situation.
- The inflexible nature of traits means
that they are often ‘wrong’ because people can
be moody and inconsistent for example.
- State theory is better at describing
behaviour than it is at predicting it.
Imagery and mental rehearsal
- We know that many athletes use
mental rehearsal as part of their training and competition.
- Not everyone has the ability to perform
mental rehearsal but most people seem to be able to improve
performance using it, but it is most useful if you can already
perform the task (i.e. you won’t learn how to ski
by mentally rehearsing it but if you can already ski you
can improve by using it).
- There are three different kinds: internal
where one imagines how doing it feels; external where one
imagines seeing oneself doing it; and outcome imagery where
one imagines successfully finishing the competition.
- There are three main theories of why
it works: psycho-neuromuscular theory, symbolic learning
theory and bio-informational theory.
- There is equivocal evidence for
all of these theories and we are left with the conclusion
that we know it works but we don’t know why.
- We can divide motivation into intrinsic
(doing it for its sake) and extrinsic (doing it for a reward).
- We can also think of the amount
of motivation we have as a function of relationship between
our need to achieve and our fear of failure.