This personnel need to identify the psychological attributes

This Essay report topic will
be focusing on the mental skills of an elite athlete. The athlete named Andrew
Tang whom was interviewed on 29th Nov 2017. He was interviewed and
surveyed with the ACSI’s questionnaire. He is currently a 20 years old
Singapore National Basketballer. He started his basketball journey when he was
13 and participated in SEABA basketball league Under-16 and men’s team. He then
joined the national team at 2013 and played a few positions such as Point
guard, small forward and power forward.

When comparable, physical
abilities are seen in top-tier athletes, coaches and team personnel need to
identify the psychological attributes which separate these performers (Smith,
2003; Kimbrough et al., 2008). The athlete is required to complete a mental
skills questionnaire and is measured by The Athletic Coping Skills Inventory
(ACSI-28), providing an athlete psychological framework using seven sport
specific subscales such as: Coping with adversity, Coachability, Concentration,
Confidence and Achievement motivation, Goal setting and mental preparation,
Peaking under pressure and freedom from worry. Each question is measured using
a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3 with choices of “almost never”,
“sometimes”, “often” and “almost always”, whereby athletes are asked to recall
their experience in relation to the situation posed on the questionnaire. A
score for each subscale/skill can range from 0 to 12, while the summation of
all the scores for each skill creates a value ranging from 0 to 84 called the
Personal Coping Resource (composite score). To sum up his score and identify
his 3 weakest psychological skill factors are Concentration at score of 3 out
of 12, Confidence and Achievement motivation at score of 6 out of 12 and Coping
with adversity at score of 6 out of 12.

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Body

Concentration

Concentration is basically
defined as “The action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort”.
There is a correlation between concentration and attention. There are 3 types
of attention when it comes to being concentrated on certain activity or
conversation these attentions are, Selective attention, Conscious attention and
Unconscious attention. Selective attention is defined as the ability of athletes
to focus on certain cues to the exclusion of others (Wrisberg and Shea, 1978).
Athletes can selectively focus to internal and external cues for example a netball
player shooting focusing on shooting cues while ignoring pressure from
defenders. Conscious attention is a controlled processing of consciously
focusing attention and requires form of effort in nature. We consciously attend
through our five senses and the internal recall or creations of visual, audio,
kinaesthetic, smells and tastes. Unconscious
attention is commonly used especially by basketball players, It’s the ability to
perform two or more skills the same time. It tends to happen when one of the
skills that have been performed is highly practiced. In Andrew’s case he can
concentrate on dribbling the ball while simultaneously being aware of external
factors such as field awareness and where their teammates and opponents are. Based
on the survey conducted him being in the Power forward position is a
very important role as he must be excellent in catching rebounds and be able to
handle and secure the ball after acquiring the rebound. His concentration can
be affected by Visual distracters on the field such as the positioning of his
teammates and opponents. Also, the screaming and shouting by the coaches and
the spectators can be a form of Auditory distracters too. There are various
interventions that can aid Andrew in increasing concentration. Simulation
training can help one focus effectively and avoid distractions, it is useful in
improving their concentration level during competition. Making practices as
“real” as possible by helping them train like they compete. In stimulated
competitions, athletes become aware of what they will face in actual scenario,
they are able to identify what they need to focus on, what the potential
distraction are and can then practice and effective focus for competition. This
increases their confidence level that they can focus effectively and avoid
distractions. Previous studies have proven that Athletes are trained to
concentrate and dissociate from the disruptive stimuli. Research (Orlick &
Partington,1988) involving a study of Olympic athletes demonstrated the
importance of reducing distractions. They reported that the ability to control
distractibility was closely associated with superior performance at the Olympic
Games. A similar example for team sports such as basketball and volleyball
would be holding the week’s practice before an away game with the
public-address system loudly playing hostile crowd noises and the opposing
team’s flight song.

Confidence
and Achievement motivation

Self-efficacy, self-awareness
and self-esteem are crucial factors for one’s confidence level, they are also
known as self-concept. Self-concept also differs from self-esteem: self-concept
is a cognitive or descriptive component of one’s self (e.g. “I am a fast swimmer”),
while self-esteem is evaluative and opinionated (e.g. “I feel good about
being a fast swimmer”). Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall emotion
evaluation. Due to high-expectations from the coach and his teammates, Andrew
feels pressured to performing well. At times he may even feel that if he did
not meet the expectations from his teammates and coach, he may feel that he is
a let down to the team, he is also worried and afraid that others may judge his
capabilities and causing him to worry more frequently and thus leading to high
anxious. This phenomenon is also known as competitive trait anxiety. (Passer, 1983).

 

Coping with adversity

Coping has been defined by
Lazarus and Folkman (1984) as “Constantly changing cognitive and behavioural
efforts to manage specific external or internal demands that are appraised as
taking or exceeding resources of person” (p. 141).  Along the way in Andrew’s basketball career,
he shares with me that he suffered from a knee injury and ever since, stressors
have been piling on him. The 4 stages of stress include Environmental demand,
Perception of demand, Stress response and Behavioural consequences. For Andrew,
the knee injury would be his greatest physical demand as it will limit his
performance, and this has lead him into perceiving the injury as a threat
causing him to become highly trait-anxious. With evident imbalance between his
demands and response capability causes him to increase in state anxiety and
thus adding on to increased worries (cognitive state anxiety) and muscle
tension and tightness (somatic state anxiety) such factors could have also implicated
in concentration and focus level. Using the Fazey and Hardy’s Catastrophe Theory
in Fig.1 below, Cognitive and somatic anxiety must work together in some
interactive way to affect performance and that is why the Catastrophe Theory
can consider the independent effects of anxiety and physiological arousal under
the same model.

Fig.1
Fazey and Hardy’s (1988) catastrophe model of the relationship between anxiety
and performance

 High cognitive anxiety basically means worrying however, the
increases in arousal at some point reach certain kind of threshold just past
the point of optimal arousal level, a rapid decline in performance can be seen
and this is where the catastrophe occurs. Somatic anxiety and have markedly
different effects on performance depending on the amount of cognitive anxiety
he is experiencing. Due to the decline of performance it will take longer to
recover and the athlete must completely relax physically and cognitively. An
intervention to aid andrew’s issue would be using Self-talk. It is a overt or
covert personal dialogue in which the athlete interprets feelings, perceptions,
and convictions and gives himselfs instructions and reinforcement. Hardy,
Gammage, et al. (2001). Thoughts that come into an athlete ‘s mind during
competition can be either positive or negative and these thoughts are the form
of self-talk. Andrew must learn to control his thoughts and to stucture them to
his advantage. He must carefully preselect the actual words and phrases used
during self-talk and consider them for maximum effectiveness. The use of affirmation
statements for andrew such as “Nothing but rebounds for me” and “all I need is
to guard the ball”. Research and reviews had already provide excellent support
for use of self-talk strategies to improve basketball performance in exercise
and sport task has been reported. (Perkos, Theodorakis, & Chroni, 2002;
Theodorakis, Chroni, Laparidis, Bebetos, & Duoma, 2001).