Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Achieveing Optiman Performance

Almost all athletes have a goal of achieving their optimal performance in their sport. There are four main concepts and theories that implement behavioral changes among athletes that both improve and manipulate their performance.

The fist concept is coping. Coping is defined as, “constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or external demands that are appraised as taking or exceeding the resources of the person. According to the book, Social-Psychological Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity, coping is a form of stress management.

There are two types of coping strategies, problem-focused, and emotion-focused coping strategies. Problem-focused coping strategies are based off of the environmental stimulus that is causing the stress response. An example of this would be a right handed base ball player being very anxious to go up against a left handed batter. The coping strategy would be for the batter to get more experience going up against left handed pitchers. On the other hand emotion-focused coping strategies try to regulate emotions in order to reduce and manage cognitive stress. Like in the example I gave before the batter would use different methods to calm his emotions instead of attacking the problem like in problem-focused coping.

Coping is one of the four main concepts that is used to help athletes manage behavior by using the two coping methods the athletes are able to better control their emotions and their behavior because the coping methods give the athlete better control over their mind and body and thus leading to a better performance in their sport.

Another theory that is used to enhance an athlete’s performance so that they reach their optimal performance is Self-talk. Self talk is defined as an overt or covert cognitive technique for reinforcing situation-specific self confidence and ultimately behavior. There are three main reasons why self talk is used. Those reasons being it builds and develops self-efficacy, helps with skill acquisition, and creates and changes moods. This is important when an athlete is trying to gain optimal performance because it allows the athlete to build self confidence, and the more confidence you have in yourself the better your performance will be.

The third strategy is the use of relaxation strategies. Relaxation strategies include deep breathing, meditation, mental device, and many others, These strategies allow the athlete to be calm cool and collected before the participate in their sport. By being calm cool and collected allows the athlete to implement a behavioral change because they are calm before they go out on the field.

The fourth and final theory used to improve and manipulate performance in the use of team energizing strategies. Team energizing strategies are energizing strategies the focus upon the team as a whole and are usually orchestrated by the coach. This sets initiatives by the coach to his or her players and is designed to keep the team focused and energized for the entire season. This manipulates performance, because it keeps the team and the players from burning out towards the end of the season. Furthermore, if players are not burning out then that is a change in their performance, because they are energized and focused and are going to have a better performance in their sport of choice.

There is a relationship between arousal and performance. The more aroused someone is the more aware of their surroundings they are. Your arousal levels differ depending on what outcome you are willing to achieve. If you arousal level is high, then you will be more motivated to win and perform well. If your arousal levels are low then it means that you are more likely to not perform at your best. Arousal is both mental and physical. The central nervous system leads to physiological and behavioral changes. You can partially control arousal and thereby improve your functioning as an individual as well as an athlete. Basically the higher your arousal the better your performance and the lower your arousal the worse your performance will be.

Different arousal levels are needed for different sports. The sport of football needs a very high arousal level because it is such a physical sport where your body gets beat down and the more aroused and pumped up a player is the more likely they are to put in the extra effort and have a great performance on the field. On the other hand a sport like golf or pool where you have to have calm controlled precise movements requires a lower level of arousal. This is because the sports use more fine motor skills and need to have serious concentration and attention paid to each movement that if a person is to aroused physically they may be too excited and mess up the precise movement that is required in their sport.

There are many different techniques that can be used to cope with to high of an arousal level. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to calm both the mind and the body. By calming the mind and the body you are lowering your arousal level. Furthermore another technique that can be used to lower arousal levels is visualization. Visualization is used to improve performance, develop confidence, and manage anxiety. Visualization, which is also know as imagery or mental rehearsal, involves imagining yourself successfully competing at an athletic event. By doing this it clams the nerves of the athlete and helps to lower their arousal level.

The key element to the attribution theory is asking this question, “to what so you attribute your great success?” in other words the athlete is being asked about their perceptions. Every athlete has a different reason for why they believe that they are successful. Furthermore attribution theory is a theory to explain motivation. It tries to explain, predict events based on the athletes cognitive perception. According to this theory, everyone tries to explain why they acted in a certain way due to the perceived causes.

An attribution training program would look like this:
What you can control vs. what you cannot control.
-Control yourself -cannot control your opponent
-Every move you make -Environment

For volleyball if you are the setter you can control who you set the ball too, but you cannot control whether or not they hit the ball over the net. Also you can play defense if you’re the volleyball setter, but you cannot control where your opponent is going to hit the ball on your side of the net. Also if you are playing outdoors, you cannot control the weather conditions.

The reason for an athlete to go through an attribution training theory would be someone who needs help with their motivation and their ability to explain and understand why things happen in a certain way due during their sport. They may have issues with not being able to control every aspect of their sport. This effects player’s emotions and how they perceived themselves and their performance in the sport. In my opinion you can really only benefit from attribution training. This is because it helps the athlete understand why they acted in a certain way during their athletic performance.

It is so important to differentiate between task and social cohesion when discussing team cohesion, because they are two independent components of team cohesion. Task cohesion is the level to which the members of the team work together to obtain a specific and identifiable goal. Social cohesion is the level to which the member of the team like each other and gain satisfaction from being a member of the team. It is important to be able to identify and distinguish the difference between task and social cohesion because they are tow totally different components if team cohesion.

In order to facilitate a positive team environment the coach needs to consider using team building as a strategy to facilitate a positive team environment. Team building is a way to promote an increased sense of unity and cohesiveness and allows the team to function together more smoothly and effectively. Furthermore the coach should take the time to learn something personal about each one of their players on the team. In addition the coach should set team goals and take pride in their accomplishments. Also the coach should make sure that each player on the team learns their role and believes that their role is important. These are just some of the ways for a coach to build team cohesion.

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