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This Essay report topic willbe focusing on the mental skills of an elite athlete. The athlete named AndrewTang whom was interviewed on 29th Nov 2017. He was interviewed andsurveyed with the ACSI’s questionnaire. He is currently a 20 years oldSingapore National Basketballer. He started his basketball journey when he was13 and participated in SEABA basketball league Under-16 and men’s team. He thenjoined the national team at 2013 and played a few positions such as Pointguard, small forward and power forward.

When comparable, physicalabilities are seen in top-tier athletes, coaches and team personnel need toidentify the psychological attributes which separate these performers (Smith,2003; Kimbrough et al., 2008). The athlete is required to complete a mentalskills questionnaire and is measured by The Athletic Coping Skills Inventory(ACSI-28), providing an athlete psychological framework using seven sportspecific 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 usinga 4-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3 with choices of “almost never”,”sometimes”, “often” and “almost always”, whereby athletes are asked to recalltheir experience in relation to the situation posed on the questionnaire. Ascore for each subscale/skill can range from 0 to 12, while the summation ofall the scores for each skill creates a value ranging from 0 to 84 called thePersonal Coping Resource (composite score). To sum up his score and identifyhis 3 weakest psychological skill factors are Concentration at score of 3 outof 12, Confidence and Achievement motivation at score of 6 out of 12 and Copingwith adversity at score of 6 out of 12. BodyConcentrationConcentration is basicallydefined as “The action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort”.There is a correlation between concentration and attention.

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There are 3 typesof attention when it comes to being concentrated on certain activity orconversation these attentions are, Selective attention, Conscious attention andUnconscious attention. Selective attention is defined as the ability of athletesto 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 netballplayer shooting focusing on shooting cues while ignoring pressure fromdefenders. Conscious attention is a controlled processing of consciouslyfocusing attention and requires form of effort in nature.

We consciously attendthrough our five senses and the internal recall or creations of visual, audio,kinaesthetic, smells and tastes. Unconsciousattention is commonly used especially by basketball players, It’s the ability toperform two or more skills the same time. It tends to happen when one of theskills that have been performed is highly practiced. In Andrew’s case he canconcentrate on dribbling the ball while simultaneously being aware of externalfactors such as field awareness and where their teammates and opponents are.

Basedon the survey conducted him being in the Power forward position is avery important role as he must be excellent in catching rebounds and be able tohandle and secure the ball after acquiring the rebound. His concentration canbe affected by Visual distracters on the field such as the positioning of histeammates and opponents. Also, the screaming and shouting by the coaches andthe spectators can be a form of Auditory distracters too. There are variousinterventions that can aid Andrew in increasing concentration.

Simulationtraining can help one focus effectively and avoid distractions, it is useful inimproving their concentration level during competition. Making practices as”real” as possible by helping them train like they compete. In stimulatedcompetitions, athletes become aware of what they will face in actual scenario,they are able to identify what they need to focus on, what the potentialdistraction are and can then practice and effective focus for competition. Thisincreases their confidence level that they can focus effectively and avoiddistractions. Previous studies have proven that Athletes are trained toconcentrate and dissociate from the disruptive stimuli.

Research (Orlick &Partington,1988) involving a study of Olympic athletes demonstrated theimportance of reducing distractions. They reported that the ability to controldistractibility was closely associated with superior performance at the OlympicGames. A similar example for team sports such as basketball and volleyballwould be holding the week’s practice before an away game with thepublic-address system loudly playing hostile crowd noises and the opposingteam’s flight song.Confidenceand Achievement motivationSelf-efficacy, self-awarenessand self-esteem are crucial factors for one’s confidence level, they are alsoknown as self-concept.

Self-concept also differs from self-esteem: self-conceptis 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 aboutbeing a fast swimmer”).

Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall emotionevaluation. Due to high-expectations from the coach and his teammates, Andrewfeels pressured to performing well. At times he may even feel that if he didnot meet the expectations from his teammates and coach, he may feel that he isa let down to the team, he is also worried and afraid that others may judge hiscapabilities and causing him to worry more frequently and thus leading to highanxious. This phenomenon is also known as competitive trait anxiety. (Passer, 1983).  Coping with adversityCoping has been defined byLazarus and Folkman (1984) as “Constantly changing cognitive and behaviouralefforts to manage specific external or internal demands that are appraised astaking 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, stressorshave 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 hisperformance, and this has lead him into perceiving the injury as a threatcausing him to become highly trait-anxious. With evident imbalance between hisdemands and response capability causes him to increase in state anxiety andthus adding on to increased worries (cognitive state anxiety) and muscletension and tightness (somatic state anxiety) such factors could have also implicatedin concentration and focus level. Using the Fazey and Hardy’s Catastrophe Theoryin Fig.

1 below, Cognitive and somatic anxiety must work together in someinteractive way to affect performance and that is why the Catastrophe Theorycan consider the independent effects of anxiety and physiological arousal underthe same model. Fig.1Fazey and Hardy’s (1988) catastrophe model of the relationship between anxietyand performance  High cognitive anxiety basically means worrying however, theincreases in arousal at some point reach certain kind of threshold just pastthe point of optimal arousal level, a rapid decline in performance can be seenand this is where the catastrophe occurs. Somatic anxiety and have markedlydifferent effects on performance depending on the amount of cognitive anxietyhe is experiencing. Due to the decline of performance it will take longer torecover and the athlete must completely relax physically and cognitively. Anintervention to aid andrew’s issue would be using Self-talk.

It is a overt orcovert 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 duringcompetition can be either positive or negative and these thoughts are the formof self-talk. Andrew must learn to control his thoughts and to stucture them tohis advantage.

He must carefully preselect the actual words and phrases usedduring self-talk and consider them for maximum effectiveness. The use of affirmationstatements for andrew such as “Nothing but rebounds for me” and “all I need isto guard the ball”. Research and reviews had already provide excellent supportfor use of self-talk strategies to improve basketball performance in exerciseand sport task has been reported. (Perkos, Theodorakis, & Chroni, 2002;Theodorakis, Chroni, Laparidis, Bebetos, & Duoma, 2001).


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