Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
A pre-season mental skills program for serving was implemented for the 12 members of a NCAA Division-I volleyball team. Key mental skills taught were relaxation, imagery, and attentional skills. A videotaped expert (i.e., the coach), who articulated and demonstrated the technical performance keys to effective serving, was used for behavioral modeling of the desired performance. Players utilized a three-phase service routine to increase automaticity of performance and to incorporate key mental skills. Phase I included: (a) selecting the target zone, (b) relaxing, (c) goal setting for pace, trajectory, and placement of the serve, and (d) imagery. Phase II included: (a) trusting the serve, (b) use of a serve trigger thought (e.g., "palm to target"), and (c) execution of the serve. Phase III included: (a) observing the outcome of the serve attempt, (b) if a good serve, reinforcing the performance through imagery; if a missed serve, correcting the error through imagery then letting go of the error, and (c) moving on to the next point. Two criteria measures were utilized: season ace-to-error ratio (AER) and good serve percentage (GSP; i.e., percent serves in home matches that pulled the opponent's setter off the net). These measures were highly correlated (r = .85, p < .01). Both were utilized, as GSP was more sensitive than the traditional AER. End-of-the-season reported use of imagery was significantly correlated with GSP (r = .82, p < .01) and AER (r = .63, p < .05). End-of-the-season reported use of a service routine also correlated significantly with GSP (r = .75, p < .01) and AER (r = .60, p < .05). The mean GSP across all servers for the season was .49 (SD = .07); the team GSP goal was .50. Competitive anxiety was negatively correlated with GSP (r = -.68,p < .05). Results indicate that implementing the mental skills training program was associated with increased serve performance.
Usry, Amber, "The Effects of Mental Skills Training on Serve Accuracy of an Intercollegiate Volleyball Team" (2005). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 484.