Competitive Performance Effects of Psychological Skill Training for Youth Swimmers

Meggs, Jennifer and Chen, Mark A. (2019) Competitive Performance Effects of Psychological Skill Training for Youth Swimmers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126 (5). pp. 886-903. ISSN 0031-5125

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This study assessed the effect of two different psychological methods of skills training-self-talk and goal setting-on the swimming performance of youth swimmers. We allocated a convenience sample of club and county level youth swimmers ( N  = 49; M age  = 10.8, SD  = 1.25) to one of the three groups: self-talk, goal setting, or a control group engaged in no systematic psychological method of skills training. The groups were balanced in terms of competitive performance ability, age, and gender. Participants in the experimental conditions (self-talk and goal setting) completed a 5-week psychological skills intervention program and were measured on pre- and post-200-m swimming time in competition. After controlling for level of engagement in the program, analysis of covariance revealed a significant omnibus effect ( p  = .006, η p 2  = .20) with post hoc pairwise comparisons using magnitude-based statistics demonstrating that goal setting had a small positive effect compared with self-talk ( η 2 = .40; ± 0.45). Both self-talk ( η 2 = .50; ±0.48) and goal setting ( η 2 = .71; ±0.4) showed a small and moderate positive effect, respectively, relative to the control group. A social validation check confirmed that the swimmers found the intervention to be relevant, beneficial, and meaningful for improving performance. Psychological skills training may be effective in improving youth swimming performance; specific mechanisms underlying these benefits need further exploration.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Perceptual and Motor Skills
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126 (5), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Perceptual and Motor Skills page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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06 Sep 2019 13:45
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 07:57