Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Character Building

What:The principal of the local middle school has hired me to create an after school program to give students something to do from when school gets out, to when their parents get home from work. The need for such a program is because of the growing number of after school fights and juvenile delinquency. The principal has informed me that this program is to be a physical activity that helps build character. The principal wants to see more positive sporting behavior and less in-school fighting.

How:Since the principal wants me to create a program that utilizes physical activity as its base, and one that helps build character, I have chosen to use team sports as the program’s primary focus. Aggression can be something very difficult to deal with but something that needs to be controlled at an early age. By targeting aggression in middle school, we can hopefully teach them how to handle situations in a positive way before entering high school where things become even more complicated.
Since I have chosen a team sport to help build character, I have a few main choices to choose from: football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer and hockey. I ruled out football and hockey due to their aggressive nature and I have ruled out baseball because although its technically a team sport, I view baseball as a series of individual plays by individuals that collectively create a team sport. So that leaves basketball, volleyball and soccer. Since I have a much deeper background in basketball I have chosen to use that as my primary focus. Basketball utilizes teamwork, communication, critical thinking and leadership skills, all of which contribute to a person’s character. Using basketball as the programs focus will also provide the students with the necessary physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight.
One of the main theories associated with aggression and this particular case would be the social learning theory. Albert Bandura is one of the main proponents of this theory and believes that aggression is a learned behavior. (Bandura, 1973) I tend to agree with that and that is why we must closely monitor our entire program to make sure that noone is getting too upset and angry. If we can sustain a controlled environment where everyone is having fun, rather than being aggressive, the program should ultimately discourage aggressive behavior and hopefully show people that issues can be resolved with words, not physical altercations.

Conclusion:In conclusion I believe that aggression is a learned behavior, but one that can be controlled and even reversed. If my program is successful, I see a dramatic decrease in after-school fights and general juvenile delinquency. My program will promote healthy alternatives to fighting and show students that solid moral character will get them much farther in life than fighting.


Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychology dynamics of sport and exercise. Pg. 267-290.Champaign,    IL:Human Kinetics.
Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Multicultural Competence


I am a physical education teacher at the local public school and I am looking to promote the health and well being of young students.  To do that I must be culturally competent and have a program that is inclusive and empowering.  In this case study I will look at various ways to make my agency more culturally competent and create an atmosphere of inclusion and empowerment.


To develop my own multicultural competencies I would first have to understand what multicultural competencies are.  According to Mio, Barker-Hacket and Tumambing, multicultural psychology is the “systematic study of behavior, cognition and affect in many cultures.”  (Mio, Barker-Hacket & Tumambing, 2006, pg.3).  But culture is a difficult thing to assess sometimes and difficult to pinpoint what should be included as culture.  Is it just gender, race and religion, or do values, beliefs and life experiences contribute to one’s culture as well?  I believe it is all of the above and many others as well.  Culture is ultimately what defines us and therefore studying culture should take a look at all aspects of our lives.  And to be multicultural competent, I must be open to all people and really attempt to understand the many differences that people have.  I must also use my education and professionalism to make people from all different cultures feel safe and welcome in my class.  In doing this it should help foster an atmosphere of unity and cohesion.

Since multicultural competencies include three general areas: awareness of one’s own cultural values and biases, understanding of the client’s worldviews, and the development of culturally appropriate intervention strategies; some resources that I would attempt to utilize in order to move up the cultural competence continuum would include: talking to other staff members that may have expertise in different cultures, library resources, the internet and possibly parents to get a better understanding of what the kids might be like and their personal beliefs. (Mio, Barker-Hacket, & Tumambing, 2006).  To move up the cultural competence continuum I would first have to assess where on the continuum my agency lies.  Most agencies I would assume lie in the cultural destructive or incapacity stages.  The reason this is true is because outside of major cities there is not a whole lot of diversity or people educated on different cultures.  A personal example would be my hometown that was 99% white, this didn’t allow for much cultural diversity and therefore college was a bit of an adjustment.  But to move out of these lower stages and into the higher stages, I believe the most important thing is to educate.  I would need to become more educated on different cultures, but I would help educate my students as well.  Because after all, they are the ones participating and the ones that need to function well together.  After being fully educated on different cultures, the next step would be programming.  As the physical education teacher, it s my responsibility to provide inclusive programming for all of my students; regardless of their cultural backgrounds.  This means taking into account religious and spiritual beliefs/guidelines and gender roles.  With the understanding that everyone is different, it is important to understand that differences exist and as a professional I need to be willing to use agile programming, which is the programming style that welcomes change at any moment to help accommodate everyone involved.  If everyone feels welcomed, and part of the group regardless of cultural identity, then I believe you have reached the highest rung on the multicultural competence continuum, cultural proficiency.

To ensure that my agency and my program maintain its inclusion and empowering feeling, I would work with other professions to keep improving and evolving my programs.  I would make sure that all of my employees understand and really believe in what we’re trying to accomplish with understanding and utilizing multicultural competence.  I would also talk with other professions outside of my agency to see what they’re doing to create an inclusive atmosphere.  After all, in the service industry our main goal is to provide a quality service to all who which to participate.


Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychology dynamics of sport and exercise. Pg. 267-290.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Mio, J.S., Barker-Hacket, L., & Tumambing, J. (2006). Multicultural psychology:
Understanding our diverse communities. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chapter 15: Dual Cases

Case 1:

Situation:  I am the teacher of a middle school P.E. class and I am looking to try out some team building activities to strengthen the class’s unity.  The reason that I would use team-building techniques is to help unify the students and help them to feel as though they are part of the group.  But what is a group?  Gill and Williams define the term group as a “collection of individuals that are aware of each other, relate to each other in some way and are able to interact with each other through group processes.”  (Gill & Williams, 2008, p. 241-242)  With that said, being part of a group is more than the occasional hi, how are you; it is dynamic in nature and requires effort.  Using team-building techniques will help me to facilitate healthier group discussions and have better class attendance due to a higher sense of comradery.  What I need to address with my team-building techniques would be social loafing.  Latane, Williams and Harkins coined social loafing as the motivational loss in a group setting.  (Latane, Williams & Harkins, 1979)  The technique that I would use is one that I was a part of when I was younger.  My teacher split us into smaller groups of both boys and girls.  Each group was given a scenario to work through but each member of the group was required to add their input.  The way in which this worked was that once someone spoke their mind, they we no longer able to speak until the rest of the group spoke their mind.  And this was repeated until the scenario was completed.  This allowed for everyone to be heard, as well as taught the more talkative students that listening is sometimes better than talking and taught the more reserved kids that their opinion matters and they shouldn’t be embarrassed or afraid to speak in class.  Once all of the small groups completed their task, the entire class got together and this same process was repeated with the entire class.  It allowed everyone to feel a sense of “ownership” when the task was completed as well as promoted an atmosphere of encouragement and understanding.

Case 2:

Situation:  I am the instructor of an older adult exercise program at the senior center and I am looking into using social support to help foster better results and more enjoyment for my participants.  Social support is defined by Shumaker and Brownell as, “an exchange of resources between at least two individuals perceived by the provider or the recipient to be intended to enhance the well being of the recipient.”  (Schumaker & Brownell, 1984, p. 13)  The reason I find social support so important and the reason that I want to use it is because it will help to create more group cohesion.  If I can create a group atmosphere where there is a lot of positive energy and support for one another; my participants will have a much better experience and receive more perceived benefits.  The three techniques/resources that I will look into will be tangible resources, informational resources and emotional resources.  In an exercise setting there is a lot of equipment that is potentially dangerous, therefore I will pair the participants up into groups of two or three so they can help assist each other with the machines and their workouts.  Research shows that when working out with one or more people, there is a sense of obligation to those other people and there is a better chance of people sticking with their workout programs.  Working out with someone of your caliber also helps to motivate you to push yourself and to give more effort than you would if you were alone.  The second resource would be information.  Information is power and as the instructor I have an obligation to my participants to inform them of the benefits of a positive atmosphere.  If I can engrain the benefits of positive talk and support for one-another in their brains, they will be able to foster positive emotions on their own, without my help.  And lastly is using emotion.  As the leader, if I show positive emotion towards each individual no matter their skill level, that characteristic should rub off on each on my participants and eventually all of them will be so supportive of each other and staying positive that I would be able to simply supervise their exercise program rather than instruct them.

In conclusion as either the teacher or the instructor, I feel as though empowering both the students and the participants is the best technique because it helps foster self-confidence; which ultimately leads to better leadership and support skills.


Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. Pp. 241-
266.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Latane, B., Williams, K.D., & Harkins, S.G. (1979). Many hands make light work: The
causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 823-832.

Shumaker, S.A., & Brownell, A. (1984). Toward a theory of social support: Closing
conceptual gaps. Journal of Social Issues, 40 11-36.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family Programming

What:  A local parks and recreation department is looking to increase family memberships at their recreation center.  The director has asked me to create worthwhile programs that will increase participant performances and foster positive attitudes towards physical activity.

Social facilitation is the idea that people perform better when more than one person if performing the same task, whether in a competitive setting or a team setting.  With that said, if we can get families to come to our recreation center and workout together or play games together, their overall performance should increase.

Another theory to consider would be the social learning theory.  It talks about the situation in which people find themselves in affects their behavior.   For example, people may behave differently in the classroom than they would in the gym or with their parents than they would with their friends.  (Gill & Williams, 2008)

Social influence is the final idea that I will look at as the fitness coordinator and it is defined as, “social influences include family, important others, class leaders, and group cohesion, as well as more traditional social facilitation (coexercisers).” (Carron, Hausenblas, Mack, 1996)  I don’t think there is any denying that difference influences will have different affects on different people and on different situations, but as recreation professionals we need to know which ones will be positive and which ones may be harmful.  Parent influence is typically positive but will have a different affect than their friends or peers would.

Now What:  Since the goal is to increase family memberships, we need to understand what will influence children and their parents to participate and to continue to participate and a regular basis.  Our Families Together and Active Program will strive to bring families together and have them participate in activities together.  This is a good idea and one that will work, but I believe we need to understand the importance of peer influence as well.  It is in children’s nature to be embarrassed by their family and want to be with their friends.  So one way to get the best of both worlds would be to have a variety of programming ideas.  Make it where on certain days it is family competitions, where the whole family competes together and towards one goal.  And on the next day, allow the children to compete with their friends or against their friends.  Using this technique should keep all of the activities fresh, as well as never allowing the participants to get bored because they are only participating with a small portion of other people.  Using variety should increase their positive feeling towards physical activity because they might not even realize that they are participating in physical activity if they are constantly being influenced by other people and other influences/sports/activities.

In conclusion I believe it is important to use a wide variety of programming to keep things "fresh."  This way it should keep negative feelings to a minimum and allow for maximum fun for the entire family.


Carron, A.V., Hausenblas, H.A., & Mack, D. (1996).  Social influence: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 18, 1-16.

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chapter 9: What Motivates You?

Ben and Jack have begun working out together; both have progressed well and have good commitment. But over time Jack has become unhappy with his workout regime and working out in general. He believes that he has hit a wall and is unable to progress any further. Rudy, their personal trainer has asked for my advice on changing Jack’s negative feelings towards working out and his inability to improve, and what I believe is behind his behavioral and motivational change.
My Advice:
As an outsider to the situation I believe that it’s obvious that Jack is bored with the same routine day after day. He has inquired about changing to group aerobic workouts, but to no avail. The first thing I would do would be to change Ben’s mind about aerobic workouts and enroll them both into a group workout class. This would provide Jack with a much needed change in workout regime. Group settings are also very good places to receive positive feedback from your peers. According to Vallerad and Reid; people’s intrinsic motivation increases with positive feedback and decreases with negative feedback. (Vallerand & Reid, 1984). Lack of positive feedback could be one of the main reasons behind Jack’s low motivation levels and his behavioral and attitudinal change. By joining the group aerobic class, he will be surrounded by positive people and positive feedback, thus improving his intrinsic motivation to continue working out and strive to improve.
Another technique that I would advise Rudy to employ would be attributional training. A study by Orbach, Singer and Price has been proven that people/athletes respond better to using adaptive attributions for turning around poor performance than using maladaptive techniques. (Orbach, Singer & Price, 1999) As Jack’s personal trainer, Rudy should tell Jack that his mental block and struggles with working out are controllable and unstable. What this basically means is that Jack does in fact have the ability to improve his overall performance. This idea is backed up by the results from their study as well. The results showed that those who learned to use more adaptive attributions had higher expectations for success and experienced more positive emotions than those who made more maladaptive attributions. (Orbach, Singer & Price, 1999)
The third aspect we must look at is self-determination. The self-determination theory looks at people’s need for relatedness, or social connectedness or belonging. (Deci & Ryan, 1985) This could also be what Jack is missing when he only works out with Ben and Rudy. In addition, perceptions (perceived competence, autonomy and relatedness), mediates the relationship between the social context and motivation. (Deci & Ryan, 1985) This again has to do with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. By using group exercise classes we can improve Jack’s intrinsic motivation by utilizing the positive affect of a group atmosphere and extrinsic motivation.
In conclusion I believe there is a lot of things we can use to improve Jack’s motivation but I found that using positive feedback, attributional training and the self-determination theory would be the easiest solution for Jack to succeed.


Deci, E.L. & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

Orbach, I., Singer, R.N., & Price, S. (1999). An attribution training program and achievment in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 69-82.

Vallerand, R.J. & Reid, G. (1984). On the casual effects of perceived competence on intrinsic motivation: A test of cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Sport Psychology, 6 94-102.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chapter 7: Body Transformation

Following the seven steps for implementing a behavior plan from Spiegler and Guevrement; I first need to clarify the problem. (Spiegler & Guevrement, 2003)  The problem I would like to address would be my lack of working out on a consistent basis. There are weeks where I workout six days a week and follow that up with only one workout a week. When talking about getting in shape and seeing results, consistency is king. Muscle confusion and extreme cardio are the techniques I like to use but, I need to become more discipline and structured in my workout regimen.

Considering this is just a one week trial, I will set my goal to working out six days a week, leaving only one day of rest. Another goal will be to make each workout at least 60 minutes of constant physical activity. My third and final goal will be to alternate from strength training to cardio throughout the week. Now that my goals are set, I must design target behaviors. My target behaviors are completing a total of eight different lifts; while completing three sets of fifteen in each. Also I will run three miles at a 6 ½ minute pace on each cardio day. At this point I need to use the ABC model to identify maintaining conditions of each target behavior. (Gill & Williams, 2008)  I will use self monitoring to better understand my feelings and emotions while exercising. I will record the points in time where I feel like quitting or when I feel like I can’t do any more. I will also note the events or situations where external factors affect my motivation to start or finish a workout. Using the self-monitoring technique I should gain a better understanding of my mind, body and soul. It will allow me to understand my limits and help me to set realistic goals in the future. It should also help me to focus on thoughts that motivate me to work out or keep working out; and avoid the thoughts or actions that lower or diminish my motivation. Another issue that I run into is the fact that when I don’t see immediate results, I get frustrated and lose faith. By using self-monitoring techniques I should be able to track my progress on a weekly basis and this may help me to see minor changes, and eventually my total transformation.

This is the point where I need to use reinforces to keep me on track and give me a sense of accomplishment and reward. I have chosen to use positive reinforcements as a motivational tool in terms of an additional motivator to aid my intrinsic motivation. For every three days in which I workout in a row, I will treat myself by going to a movie or out to eat (healthy meal of course). I will do this because it will give me the feeling of getting something back, other than better physical shape.

With the general outline of my plan set up, it’s time to begin following my established guidelines. It should be interesting to see if designing a plan with positive reinforces keeps me more motivated or if it will have little effect and I begin skipping workouts like in the past.

In conclusion I hope self monitoring techniques will help me better understand my feelings pre-workout, during the workout and post-workout. And hopefully help me stay mentally tough and stick with the program beyond the initial trail week.

Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Spiegler, M.D. & Guevrement, D.C. (2003). Contemporary behavior therapy. (4th ED.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chapter 12: Emotional Control

When dealing with young athletes it's important to remember that they are just children.  Adults can cope with stressful situations much better than kids, therefore as their coaches and mentors we need to understand techniques to help control their emotions in a positive and a not too overbearing way.

"Competitive anxiety, psychological arousal typically is accompanied by cognitive worry, and increased cognitive worry is associated with lower self-confidence and poorer performance. (Gill & Williams, 2008)  Youth that struggle with competitive anxiety may also suffer from stress overload, therefore suffering from early fatigue and lower levels of endurance.

Another major worry when dealing with young prodigies is burnout.  Burnout is a form of stress that when prolonged can result in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced sense of meaning or personal accomplishment. Stress and stressful situations go hand in hand with competitive sports, but I believe there are techniques out there that can minimize the negative impacts of stress on athletes, young athletes in particular.

A few of those techniques that i would incorporate for my tennis prodigy would be to use imagery and Larry Lauer's 3 R's: React, relax and refocus.  Imagery can be used to shift our young tennis stars focus away from negative thoughts like a poor call by the line judge, unforced errors and what his opponent is doing. And focus him on the task at hand and things that he can control, such as hitting his backhand down the line with more velocity or increasing his net play by keeping his feet active.  By redirecting his focus towards positive thoughts and things that he has control over, we may be able to control his anxiety and aggressive tendencies.  I would use audiotapes and videotapes to help him to see and hear those techniques work first hand.

A second option would be Lauer's program for emotional control for anger and aggression.  He has players work on emotional toughness with first to REACT by recognizing the negative emotion, realizing it's there and RELAX by using deep-breathing, self-talk or imagery to visualize yourself responding in a positive way. (Lauer, 2005)  Lauer then talks about using a phrase to accomplish REFOCUS; since tennis is our sport, say "Focus on tennis"or "Keep my feet moving."  Either of these should help them to redirect their focus back to the match in a positive way.

By using these two techniques together I believe we would be effective in helping our tennis prodigy to better understand how to cope with his emotions and actually turn his passion and intensity for the game into a major strength of his.  After all, playing sports should be fun for kids, not stress them out to the point of emotional exhaustion or burnout.


Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Lauer, L.L. (2005). Playing tough and clean hockey: Developing emotional management skills to reduce individual player aggression.  Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chapter 11: Fighting Breast Cancer

When dealing with people that have been through something as emotional draining as fighting cancer, it is important to keep in mind their mental state as much as their physical one.  It is not in our power to reverse what the cancer has done physically, but we do have the ability to help them with their emotions through various wellness programs.

Keinginna and Kleinginna’s (1981) definition of emotion states that; “Emotion is a complex set of interactions among subjective and objective factors, mediated by neural/hormonal systems, which can give rise to affective experiences such as feelings of arousal, pleasure/displeasure; generate cognitive processes; activate widespread physiological adjustments to the arousing conditions; and lead to behavior that is often, but not always, expressive, goal-directed, and adaptive.

“Quality of life is a broad, integrative construct, comprising the person’s perceived physical, social and psychological well-being.” (Gill & Williams, 2008, p.177)  With that said I believe quality of life and emotion are obviously intertwined.  Emotion is a complex set of interactions among subjective and objective factors; these factors contribute to the perceived physical, social and psychological well-being of a particular person.  Therefore as the director of the wellness program I believe it’s important to balance mental exercises as well as physical one’s when dealing with breast cancer patients that are looking to improve their quality of life.

First priority for myself as the director of the program is to make sure everyone is comfortable.  Being a class of all cancer survivors, I believe it’s important to let them know they’re not alone.  Everyone in this class has been through a similar situation and with all of them having that unique bond; the class itself may act as their personal support group. Taking part in group activities will increase enjoyment because of interactions and feedback from their peers. (Gill & Williams, 2008)  The next step would be to improve physical and emotional well-being through physical activity.  Since not all of the participants would be at the same level physically, it is difficult to determine the level of intensity that would be best for everyone.  Experiencing flow is the ideal state in sports and exercise.  “Flow occurs when the performer is totally connected to the performance in a situation in which skills equal the challenge.“  (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)  Yoga and Tai Chi are unique programs that both beginners and experts can experience flow.  Flow is about matching skills to equal the challenge and Yoga provides various positions ranging from beginners to advanced.  This allows for the participants to be challenged according to their skill set.  If a challenge is too difficult for someone, they will feel overwhelmed and become even more stressed out or give up all together.  Same can be said if the challenge is too easy; someone may get bored with the exercise and become frustrated that they aren’t being adequately challenged.  That is why it is our job as program directors to help put the participants in a position to be able to experience flow. 

Cognitive development is also vital when dealing with a healing process.  These cancer survivors’ are healing from the long battle with cancer physically and mentally.  Positive self talk and positive reinforcement can be used to improve their self esteems.  You could also use goal setting as a motivation tool.  Some of these cancer survivors may not have been concerned with their physical health before and therefore need something to motivate them to stick with the program; and setting goals is the perfect way to motivate them and have them aim towards something specific.

Since improving their quality of life is the ultimate goal, we must provide the participants with attainable goals that when completed will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.  They have already been through a difficult situation and as the program director if I make the activities too demanding, I will have done more harm than good psychologically.  And that is not what we’re striving for in our field of work.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York:
Harper and Row.

    Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd
Ed.)  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chapter 5: Jamie the Star

In sports athletes and coaches are always thinking of ways of getting ahead of the competition.  Same can be said about the medical side of sports.  Athletic trainers are always looking into alternative ways of helping athletes recover quicker from major injuries such as an ACL tear.
Jamie, the star center of the volleyball team tore her ACL and needs to come back stronger than before so she can help her team win nationals.  As her athletic trainer, I need to come up with routines to help her do just that.  I have chosen to use attentional control and goal setting techniques.
As mentioned in the reading, goals are very common in sports, but they are equally common within the rehabilitation realm.  Having torn my ACL and going through the rehabilitation process, I have first-hand knowledge of setting goals for my recovery.  Upon meeting Jamie I would run her through various exercises to see where she is at physically.  Once completed, I would ask her what she hopes to get out of the rehab process and then together; formulate goals and exercise stages in which we would complete and like to be at during her 8 weeks with me.  Goal setting also provides motivation for the athlete to get through the rehabilitation session,  even through the difficult times. (Thelwell, 2008, p.48)  I used this technique during my rehabilitation so that I could focus on short-term goals rather than the big picture/entire process.  This helped me not to feel overwhelmed by the long recovery process and will help Jamie as well.  Goals are complex and should push athletes to their limits without feeling impossible.  The goals that I would set for Jamie would be certain exercises from basic biking, to strength training, to balancing exercises.  Goals should act as stairs towards the ultimate goal of playing volleyball again and winning nationals.  Each goal, once attained should allow Jamie to have enough physical strength and coordination to attain the next goal, and so on until full recovery.  But attaining goals aren’t always easy to do, and that is why I would use attentional control to assist the goal setting process.
I would utilize the association technique for Jamie’s recovery process.  Associative strategy would have Jamie focus on each exercise, each muscle being used and to help her monitor her level of exertion so that she wouldn’t overextend herself to the point of doing more harm than good. (Gill, 2008)  This is a good technique because she would be internally focuses, in tune with her body and better understand what needs to be done in order to complete her goals.  Many runners use associative strategies to help improve endurance and focus, and I believe that this strategy would benefit Jamie’s endurance by focusing her on completing each exercise and motivating her to give it her all.  It would be my job to make sure that she understands the three attentional categories.  Attentional selectivity to help her understand what cues to focus on, thus helping her get the most out of each exercise.  Attentional capacity to make sure she isn’t overloaded with information that may cause her to lose focus; and finally attentional alertness to make sure she is ready and receptive to these cues.
In conclusion, using cognitive skills in sports and for recovering from injuries is very beneficial and widely used.  I have seen first-hand its positive benefits and how it helps focus someone on the task at hand. (Recovering from and ACL tear)

    Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.)                                 Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.
Thelwell, R.C., Weston, N.J., Greenlees, I.A., & Hutchings, N.V. (2008). A qualitative exploration of
             psychological-skills use in coaches. The Sports Psychologist, 22, 38-53.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chapter 4: My Trait or Yours?

The issues that I will be addressing in this case study include whether or not to use personality traits in sports, whether or not psychological skill are important factors in sports and one’s ability to excel in sports and if self-reports are more useful or more harmful to a player’s psyche.
The first question mentioned in this case study is whether a basketball coach should use a Basketball Personality Scale (BPS) that accesses characteristics matching successful professional athletes.  My advice for any basketball coach would be to have each player take the BPS, but not use it as the only deciding factor on whether or not a player is psychologically ready to play or what role they should play with the team.  By using the BPS or similar tests, coaches can get a better understanding of their different player’s personality’s, thus allowing them to better understand a player’s psychological skills.  In terms of psychological skills having an impact on how players react in sport situations or whether or not they are relevant to sports at all, I consider them very important.  In my personal experience I found that concentration, confidence and motivation are the most meaningful.  In fact I believe that they are all interwoven in some way.  If an athlete has complete concentration on the task at hand, their confidence in themselves and in their skills should rise drastically.  With that said, an athlete with uninterrupted confidence in themselves should have an increased “drive” or motivation to win or excel in what they’re doing.  But there are outside factors that affect personality and those should be factored in as well.  McAdams and Pals believe that biological and social perspectives/factors affect personality and I tend to agree with that.  They say “Personality is conceived as an individual’s unique variation on the general evolutionary design for human nature, expressed as a developing pattern of dispositional traits, characteristic adaptation and self-defining life narratives, complexly and differentially situated in culture and social context. (McAdams, 2006, p.204)  Personality has very much to do with our biological make-up, but it would an injustice if we didn’t factor in life experiences and how they helped shape our personality.  I personally have been through situations that have changed my outlook on things and my personality directly.  Whether positive or negative, life narratives have a lasting effect of our personality and who we are as people.
With that said, as a coach you should understand there is nothing or no one that is perfect or without imperfections/weaknesses.  Therefore in the sports world we should focus on our player’s strengths, not their weaknesses.  If a player has strong communication and leadership skills, you should embrace that and insert them into vocal leadership roles.  Likewise with psychological skills, if a player has a strong emphasis on team, you should focus on team oriented and team building drills.  This re-enforces their belief in the idea of a team.
In terms of self-report surveys such as the ACSI-28 and TOPS being more useful or more harmful in sports, I would say it depends on the situation.  I don’t think you can argue that there isn’t something to self-report’s, but does that mean it should always be used?  I say no, I wouldn’t use these assessments unless used as a last resort.  Assessments like these can cause a lot of problems for teams and players.  If a player takes this assessment and doesn’t agree with what it says about them, they could become very upset and may negatively affect their play.  For another point, players may look too much into these findings and attempt to following along with the findings at the risk of identity loss or identity confusion.  Test’s like these have a place in sports, but only if nothing else has helped and this is a last resort.
In conclusion I believe that using psychology to determine player personality traits can be beneficial if used in the right way and at the right time.  It shouldn’t be used to determine whether a player has the right traits to play a certain role on a team, but instead used to gain a better understanding of who a player really is and to help predict how a player might react to certain types of criticism or praise.

    Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.)                                 Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 

    McAdams, D.P., & Pals, J.L. (2006). A new big five :Fundamental principles for an     
          integrative science of personality. American Psychologist, 204-217.