Article Title



Hannah Renee Walker, Mackenzie Manning, Joy Carlson, Hannah Dresner, Marcos Daou. Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC.

BACKGROUND: The practice of visualization in sports is known to benefit performance. However, the psychological mechanisms underlying the mental practice benefits are still unclear. To assess the psychological benefits of visualization on skill performance, this study aimed to investigate whether the combination of physical and mental practices (visualization) enhances performance, and what psychological skills underly this effect. METHODS: Thirty participants were divided in 2 groups (15 visualization/dart group; and 15 only dart group) and required to perform 3 dart-throwing phases (pretest: 10 trials; Practice: 6 blocks x 10 trials; 3 immediate Posttests [20 minutes after practice] in random order: Retention: 10 trials - Transfer: 10 trials - High-pressure: 10 trials). Importantly, visualization group “visualized” the skill during the 1-min breaks between practice blocks, while the Dart only group read a nutrition paper during breaks to prevent visualization. Participants threw darts to a target positioned 1.73 m off the ground; and 2.37 m from the throwing line for pretest; practice, retention and high-pressure posttests, while a transfer test was performed from a 3.37 m line. Before practice, participants received instructions about dart-throwing skills. Between the practice and posttests phases, participants were assessed on their intrinsic motivation; self-efficacy, positive thinking, and pressure in order to identify potential mechanisms underlying the benefits of visualization on skill performance. RESULTS: To assess how visualization impacted motivation, competence; self-efficacy; anxiety and positive thinking a between-subjects MANOVA was utilized. On these preliminary results (30 participants data collected out of 56 expected), it was found a main effect of Self-efficacy p = 0.048 (32.12 points ± 4.44 points vs 36.35 points ± 5.91 points); Confidence p = 0.012 (25.5 points ± 3.57 points vs 32.76 points ± 4.12 points); Somatic anxiety p = 0.023 (41.97 points ± 5.18 points vs 30.89points ± 4.55 points); and Positive thinking p = 0.043 (82.53 points ± 7.44 points vs 88.27 points ± 8.93 points) (visualization group results were depicted in bold). CONCLUSION: Results suggest that the combination of visualization and dart practice enhanced self-efficacy, competence, positive thinking and decreased anxiety facilitating skill performance.

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