Applicability of Sport and Performance Psychology
In today’s society, most sports men and women are envied by majority of people. Whether an athlete, skier, footballer, cyclist, admiration comes with success. The sports individuals put an extraordinary physical attributes to their performance. This is because they are not born with the physical power (Nicholas, 2013). Success of a sports person therefore, requires adequate preparations, which depends on both physical and mental state. To overcome problems that impede performance, sports persons get helped by the experts in the field of Sport and Performance Psychology (Keith, Carol ; Timothy, 2017).
The main focus of Sport and Performance Psychology is the application of psychological principles to enhance peak sport performance, improve people’s participation in physical activities, and assist athletes attain maximum performance (Robert and Dieter, 2016). The proponents of sport psychology such as Carl Diem, Coleman and Hari among others contends that there is an intricate relationship between psychological, physical factors and performance in sports (Chris, 2017). Applied Sport and Performance Psychology may include; instruction and training to improve performance skills, working with coaches and athletes, rehabilitation and team building (Robert, 2011). The objective of applied practice is the optimisation of performance as well as gratification. This can be achieved through the use of psychometrics, psychological skills and assessment.
Approaches used in applied Sport and Performance Psychology while working with clients may include; focusing on individual’s personality and the influence of social environment on behavior. The relationship between personality and performance helps in the understanding of mental toughness, which is required for a consistent high level performance. Mentally tough sports people exhibit confidence in their ability to perform, the ability to remain focused without distraction, motivated internally and remain composed under pressure (Jean, 2014).
Chris, B. (2017). Research in Sport Psychology. Nova Science Publishers, Incorporated.
Jean. W. (2014). Applied Sport Psychology: Personal Growth to Peak Performance.
Keith, A. K., Carol, R. G., ; Timothy, R. P. (2017). Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement: Mental Training for Athletes and Coaches. American Psychological Association.
Nicholas, T. G. (2013). Sport Psychology: Performance Enhancement, Performance Inhibition, Individuals, and Teams. Psychology Press.
Robert, J. S., and Dieter, H. (2016). Psychology in Professional Sports and the Performing Arts: Challenges and Strategies. Routledge.
Robert, S. W. (2011). Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Human Kinetics.
Sources of information in applied Sport and Performance Psychology practices
Sport and Performance Psychology applies research and theories in the identification and understanding of factors that undermines participation and performance in sport activities (Chris, 2017). The main focus of the understanding is to educate athletes, coaches, fitness professionals, trainers and even parents. Primarily, the education is meant to enhance maximum involvement in sport activities, enjoyment as well as performance. Applied sport psychologists have undergone specialised training, which enables them to engage in activities including; identification, development and implementation of emotional and mental knowledge, abilities and skills necessary for an individual to succeed in sport activities. The application of psychological knowledge and skills are designed to enhance both social and mental aspects of sports participants (Jim, 2014).
There are several information sources in applied sport and performance psychology. The right information guides in training and enhance the overall performance of sports men and women. To begin with, the first source of information is sports data and research. With regards to Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012), collection and interpretation of data is given priority by sport psychologists. The sports medicine community for instance, focuses on health, nutrition and exercise required to boost performance and involvement in sports.
Research plays an important role in sports training, involvement and performance (Shane and Shane, 2011). The second source of information in applied sport psychology is sport libraries. Information about past performance, training guides, psychological and behavioral aspects witnessed in particular individuals can be extracted from sports libraries to help psychologists in their training activities.
The third source is sports organisations. National organisations control sporting activities. There are set codes of conduct expected of sports men and women. In athletics for instance, doping is a sensitive area of interests. Athletes must therefore undergo proper training and checks to ensure incidences of doping does not arise. Within the organisations, there are set procedures for training, promoting performance, involvement, which can be applied by sport and performance psychologists.
Relevance of evidence based practice in applied Sport and Performance Psychology practices
Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) can be defined as a way of aiding accurate decision making by ensuring that specialists incorporate both scientific results, first choices, conditions and individuality of each customer and their own decision based on their profession. EBP calls for the specialists to admit what they are not aware of and assent to the modern scientific inventions. Besides, EBP entails the use of philosophical methods in giving direction in making relevant but not informed decision. (Sackett, et al. 1996), it helps in bridging the discrepancy between scientific research and its practical application (frequently stated in the psychological science), by ensuring the use of up-to-date evidence in making decisions related to customer care and to the customer standard predilections.
However, EBP is fundamental in sport psychology both on and off the field. First, it gives the coach a professional approach on when and how to practice. Incidentally, both the coach and clinical expertise develops openness, thorough and knowledgeable agreement benefiting all clients (Carlstedt, 2007). Secondly, EBP being a scientific process requires rigorous analytical processes, therefore it is procedural and advancements come one after the other. Therefore, to engage cutting-edge practice and provision of efficient innovation, in due course and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are performed, hence leading to unquestionable results (Moore, 2003). This calls for more scientific inventions in aid of developing sport participant’s confidence of getting treatments when injured during a game.
Nevertheless, EBP calls for practitioner’s knowledge in knowing sportspersons’ just like a doctor, for example, knows his/her patient (Martin, Vause & Schwartzman, 2005). Sportspersons’ attention brink, brain processing and reaction speed, emotion, inconsistency of heart speed as well as movement rates are some of the key psychological elements they should know in order to appropriately advise them and their coaches.
Carlstedt, R.A. (2007, In Press). Evidence-based applied sport psychology: A manual for practitioners, researchers and students. New York: Springer.
Martin, G.L., Vause, T., ; Schwartzman, L. (2005). Experimental studies of psychological interventions with athletes in competitions: Why so few? Behavior Modification, 29, 616-641.
Moore, Z.E. (2003). Toward the development of an evidence based practice of sport psychology: A structured qualitative study of performance enhancement interventions (Doctoral dissertation, La Salle University, 2003). Dissertation Abstracts International-B, 64(10), 5227.
Sackett, D.L., Rosenberg, W.M.C., Gray, J.A.M., Haynes, R.B., ; Richardson, W.S. (1996). Evidence-based medicine: What it is and what it isn’t. British Medical Journal, 312, 71-72.
Measurement techniques in applied Sport and Performance Psychology practices
According to a study done by Taylor (2017), Sport and exercise psychology deals with the measurement of motor performance. The areas of focus include cognitive development. The measurement of cognition is conducted with regards to memory, attention, deliberate practice, knowledge and perception. Secondly is social aspects which include; coach- performer interaction, team dynamics, shared mental models, and cohesion. Third is measurement of the self. Physical self, besides self- concept and self- esteem are the main focus of measurement. Fourth is affective and emotional state, which includes burnout as well as moods. Psychological skills are also measured, while focusing on goal- setting, management of stress, and the regulation of emotions.
Sport and performance psychologists pay close attention to the measurement of effective domain and psychological state, aimed at establishing the connection between performance, participation in sports and training (Markus, Paul, Roland, Anne & Antonis, 2016). There are a number of techniques used in the measurement of sport and performance psychology (Horn and Smith, 2018). The techniques include; Physical Self-Perception Profile, Physical Self-Inventory, Richards Physical Self-Concept Scale, and Physical Self-Description Questionnaire. To begin with, Physical Self-Description Questionnaire is used to measure sport competence, fitness and endurance as well as flexibility. Elite Athlete Self-Description Questionnaire is a technique commonly used by professional athletes. Areas of interests include; the level of skills, mental competence, body suitability and fitness. Richards Physical Self-Concept Scale measures six components which include; physical competence, health and appearance. Physical Self-Inventor is used to measure the self, including self- esteem, confidence and perception.
In summary, a critical look at measurement techniques of sport and performance psychology reveals the connection between psychological states and performance in sport activities and participation. Idiosyncratic technique, verbal report and cognitive processes and dynamic assessment are applied in sport psychology trainers, to help sport participants achieve maximally.
Key points required in the research proposal.
While focusing on psychological impacts of visually impaired athletes on training and performance as the study topic, concise analysis of the methodology is helpful in understanding the aim of the study, and the objectives for both long and short term outcomes. Methodology entails procedures necessary in the identification, selection, processing and analysis of information about the study topic (Kothari, 2004). Overall reliability and validity of research can therefore, be evaluated to clearly show how the data was collected, and analysed. The methodology in any given study may include surveys, interviews, publication research and other research techniques. The different forms of methodology are useful in data collection, analysis and presentation, before making recommendations and conclusions.
This study applied interviews to help generate findings for the topic of study. A questionnaire was objectively designed, and purposive sampling used (Arghya, 2012). The respondents consisted of elite visually impaired athletes, engaged during a competition. Closed questionnaires were used with psychological items including; behavior, perception, motivation, self- esteem among others. A scale of S5, including responses like strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree was used in the questionnaires. The research was entirely quantitative, in which data was gathered and generalised across the group of participants. This was helpful in identifying common psychological factors that influence training and performance of the visually impaired athletes.
Weaknesses associated with the methodology may include; small sample size, inaccurate responses, limited time of participation in the study, cost of preparing questionnaires and transportation, problems with data analysis, which may precipitate into the final results, making the outcome unreliable. The problems were addressed by settling on purposive sampling, which ensured that only participants knowledgeable about the study topic responded to the questionnaires. The expenses were also reduced by interviewing a group of visually impaired athletes during a competition, and a good size of the respondents were used to ensure reliability of the information.
Three potential issues requiring attention
The three issues requiring attention include participation in sports activities, coaching of the visually impaired athletes and performance.
Participation in sporting activities requires training, which in turn affects performance (Brewer, 2017). In general, psychological and physical factors have significant impacts on athletes as well as other sports men and women. The main focus on training and performance is well- being of athletes, social and developmental aspects of participation in sports, as well as systemic issues related to sports organizations and settings. To enhance participation and performance, coaches and other professional trainers lay emphasis on counselling and clinical interventions, behavioral and cognitive skills that enhance performance, and consultation (Joseph, 2011). Individuals are encouraged to participate in sports regardless of their disabilities. Visually impaired athletes for instance, make the best competitors in spite of their physical challenges. However, psychological issue such as social interaction, emotions, behaviors and perceptions towards the visually impaired, feels and attitudes.
Trainers focus on psychological principles which facilitate peak sport performance, encourage participation in physical activities and aid athletes achieve optimally (Bruce, 2000). During training, athletes are assisted to overcome problems which hinder performance, reinforcement of strategies that enable sports men and women maximise physical prowess, overcome traumatic experiences as well as anxiety and acceptance of critique. Visually impaired athletes utilize mental imagery from an internal standpoint. Secondly, athletes have the ability to use a combination of perspectives and imagery perspectives to enhance mental imagery experience. Paralympic sports provide an opportunity for visually impaired participants, who are not able to participate in other regular sporting competitions. Rifle shooting for instance, is an ideal sport for visually impaired persons. This because the participants use auditory information to optimize performance. During the training, attention is paid to the abilities of the sports man and woman.
In sporting activities, it takes the visually impaired persons quite some time to find themselves equipped to the pitch condition (Chen and Lin, 2011). For example, those who participate in the track events find the slippery condition of the field very difficult to adapt to. The coaches are therefore tasked to assist the participants adapt during training so that they find it easy to compete with others effectively.
Peak performance is the desire of every athletes. This is given priority during training, since every sports person believes in emerging the winner (Brad and Steve, 2017). Areas of key interests include performance anxieties, team management, and elite performance support among other concerns. Individuals, especially the visually impaired athletes are helped to overcome psychological issues that may influence their performance, well- being and health. To perform optimally, athletes must deal with performance anxiety, pressure and mental blocks. Coaches thus work with athletes to build a strong mindset required in sports. The main focus is to help athletes apply psychological strategies to help them improve their performance and achieve maximally.
Research question and explanation
What are the psychological factors, how do the factors impact on training and performance of visually impaired athletes, and how can the factors be addressed to improve on sports participation, training and performance?
A research question is considered an answerable investigation into a specific issue. Formulating a research question is the initial step in any research being conducted. The question forms the direction of the study, therefore, a good research question makes the research work easy (Mats and Jorgen, 2013). Writing an excellent research question entails focusing on specific issues, deciding on what to investigate from the specific concern, and formulating a testable question.
In this research proposal, concerted efforts have been put towards answering the research question. Psychological issue identified include discrimination; based on perception. Visually impaired persons are normally separated from the sighted participants during coaching. Visually impaired also find it difficult to work independently (Chen and Lin, 2011). They need to interact with others because of dependency. Some people even walk away from the visually impaired athletes without even telling them. This irritates the visually impaired persons since sometimes they find themselves talking alone. The athletes also develop fear that they might fall and sustain injuries. The feeling significantly affects the overall performance.
Social interaction plays a major role in influencing the perception held by the visually impaired, in that if social embraced by the sighted individuals, visually impaired athletes become motivated and develops a sense of self- worth. The psychological problems, as recommended in the proposal, can be addressed by both the trainers and those interacting with the athletes to encourage them, change the perception and promote involvement in sporting activities and performance. This can be achieved through training together with the visually impaired athletes,