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Title: Identification and enhancement of pre-performance mental states in male rugby union players
Author: Mellalieu, Stephen D.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3392 8890
Awarding Body: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education
Current Institution: University of Gloucestershire
Date of Award: 2000
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The purpose of this thesis was concerned with the identification of the nature and content of the pre performance affective experience of the rugby union performer, and the subsequent measurement of the efficacy of a psychological intervention strategy to enhance the precompetitive mental state. Study 1 of the thesis conducted a preliminary investigation into the overall experience of sports performers' precompetitive affect (i.e., negative/positive) and the relationship with symptoms associated with competitive anxiety through the employment of trait self-report measures. The findings highlighted the importance of maintaining favourable perceptions of anxiety in the experience of positive affect. In order to describe the nature of this positive affective state, a sport specific self-report scale was designed and validated in Study 2 within a population of competitive athletes. Study 3 used the scale to examine the content of the pre performance affective experience and the relationship with interpretations of symptoms associated with competitive anxiety. The findings identified the existence of competitive anxiety symptoms. In order to derive a comprehensive understanding of the precompetitive experience a qualitative perspective was employed in Study 4. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 international, male, rugby union players. Appropriate pre performance mental states were identified with symptoms associated with mental, physical, and technical readiness. Inappropriate pre performance mental states were symptomatic of a lack of mental, physical and technical readiness and negative experiences associated with competitive anxiety symptoms. The study also established the influence of significant others upon an individual's mental preparation for competition within the context of the team sport. A final purpose of Study 4 was to describe the psychological strategies employed by performers to achieve appropriate pre performance mental states. The study identified the employment of task-specific imagery in order to facilitate appropriate pre performance mental states. Utilising these findings, the final study of the thesis adopted a single-case design to investigate the efficacy of a task-specific imagery strategy in enhancing appropriate mental readiness for performance in 4 sub-elite rugby union players. The findings demonstrated enhancement in pre performance mental readiness across all participants. Specifically, increases in the level of mental preparation and self-confidence were identified, whilst a lower level of competitive anxiety symptoms were reported. The overall findings of the thesis have facilitated a greater understanding of the affective experiences and psychological strategies of competitive athletes prior to performing. Practical recommendations are proposed in order to facilitate the enhancement and achievement of ideal precompetitive mental states in sports performers. These outline the importance of employing structured task-specific imagery to facilitate appropriate activation states and the need to establish structured mental 'warm up' periods in the preparation for competition.
Supervisor: Bull, Steve ; Shambrook, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; GV861 Ball games: Baseball, football, golf, etc.