CSCS Chapter 8: Psychology of Athletic Preparation and Performance

CSCS Study Guide Chapter 8

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Chapter Goals

  1. Know the relationships there are between psychological states, physiological arousals, and physical performance.
  2. Understand the terms that are relevant to psychological areas of concern. These include arousal, anxiety, attention, ideal performance, motivation, and applied sport psychology.
  3. Design motivational programs that are based on goal setting principles.
  4. Talk about the intervention strategies that are designed to control psychological and physiological arousal.

Definition of Key Concepts within Sport Psychology

  • The Three main goals of Sport Psychology
    • Measure physiological phenomena
    • Understand relationships between the psychological variables and performance
    • Use theoretical knowledge for the improvement of athletic performance.
  • State and Trait Anxiety
    • State anxiety is defined as an actual experience of apprehension and arousal that isn’t controlled.
    • Trait anxiety is defined as a personality characteristic you have that shows a latent disposition for perceiving situations as threatening.
    • Cognitive anxiety is in relation to psychological processes and worrisome thoughts.
    • Somatic anxiety is in relation to physical symptoms like tense muscles, tachycardia, and butterflies in your stomach feelings.
    • Stress is a disruption from standard physical and mental state. It can be negative or positive.
    • A stressor is an event that precipitates stress.
  • Attention and Skill
    • Attention is when you are processing environmental and internal cues you are aware of.
    • Controlling distractions is a skill that is possible to learn.
    • Selective attention in athletes is referring to their level of focus in the suppression of stimuli irrelevant to tasks.
  • Cue Utilization
    • When barely aroused, relevant and irrelevant cues come to one’s awareness. Athletes may not concentrate well in this low level.
    • When arousal is increasing to moderate points, more focus on tasks usually occurs.
    • Too high arousal may take focus off relevant cues.
  • Attentional Style
    • Internal-external: This is an introspective vs external oriented perspective
    • Broad-narrow: This is an integrative vs highly selective orientation.

How the Mind Affects the Athlete’s Performance

  • Tangible physical processes happen within the brain and body due to thought processes.
    • Changes influence neuromuscular activation, coordination, metabolism, and autonomic arousal. This changes the motor performance.
    • Changes will be beneficial, detrimental, or neutral. This all depends upon the nature of the task, the skill level of the athlete, and the tasks’ complexity.

The Ideal Performance State Involves:

  • A lack of fear
    • No analyzation of performance
    • A narrow focus on the activity
    • Effortlessness feeling
    • Feeling of personal control
    • Time and space distorts

Motivational Phenomena

  • Intrinsic Motivation
    • A desire for competency and self-determination.
    • Athletes are self-starters due to their love for their game.
    • Achievement Motivation
      • This is the wish of the athlete to stay in competition or social comparison.
      • The athlete with the higher achievement motivation will become better because they have an appetite for competing.
    • Positive and Negative Reinforcement in Coaching
      • Positive reinforcement is when an act is intended to increase the probability of occurrence by following with the presentation of actions, objects, or events like praise, rewards, and prizes.
      • Negative reinforcement is when you try to increase the probability of occurrence of an operant by removing something like acts, objects, or events.
    • Application of Positive and Negative Reinforcement
      • Coaches should use reinforcement strategies in order to help athletes focus on what they should do correctly.
      • Punishment shouldn’t be used often as it brings the focus to incorrect behaviors.
      • Positive reinforcement helps with task-relevant cues.
      • Punishment floods athlete’s attentional capacity with task-relevant cues.

Influence of Arousal on Performance

  • Inverted U Theory
    • Defined as when arousal brings performance to an optimal level, and at some point more increases in arousal will reduce performance level.
      • Skill Level: The more skill an athlete has, the better someone will perform in times of less or more than optimal arousal.
      • Task Complexity: The simpler the skill, the higher the degree of tolerable arousal. Skills that involve many decisions require lower arousal levels.
      • Personality: Extraverts are known as sensory reducers, and introverts are augmenters of sensory information.
      • Trait Anxiety: Athletes with low levels can take on more pressure
  • Optimal Functioning Theory
    • Some people perform best with different arousal levels.
  • Catastrophe Theory
    • Physiological arousal increases happen during cognitive anxiety, causing a quick drop in performance.
  • Self-Efficacy
    • The perceived self-confidence regarding a task in a specific situation may be better at predicting task execution than both arousal and anxiety.

Mental Management of Physical Resources

  • Sport psychology application involves using techniques in order to get control over psychological factors and influence performance in sport.
    • The techniques validation is a mission of Sport Psychology
    • Goal Setting
      • Process Goals
        • The athlete has control over these.
      • Outcome Goals
        • Athletes have very little control over these. Winning is a good example.
      • Shor term Goals
        • These goals increase athlete’s likelihood of completion because they are closer to their current abilities.
      • Long term Goals
        • These give relevance to the short term goals.
      • Guidelines for using goal setting
        • Long and short term goals are both interdependent.
        • Long term goals give meaning to the short term ones.
        • Short term goals give people a hierarchal sense of mastery and success, thus building their confidence.
        • Athletes need to define their process goals so they can focus on elements they can control in their performance.
      • Effective behavioral coaching
        • Coaches specify the parts of skills and track their athlete’s success with each one until the whole thing is mastered.
        • Feedback is most effective when it is with specific, measurable goals, instead of vague ones regarding performance.
      • Goal setting affects performance because:
        • Goals direct the attention of athletes by prioritizing their efforts.
        • Goals give an increase in effort due to the contingency of success on the attainment of goals.
        • Goals increase positive reinforcement through feedback given to athletes.
    • Physical Relaxation Techniques
      • Diaphragmatic Breathing
        • This puts a focus on breathing in order to clear their mind and increase capacity for attention.
      • Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR)
        • A series of alternations in relaxation and muscle tensing the athlete uses to be aware of somatic tension and control over it.
      • Autogenic Training
        • The PMR cycle in each group is instead replaced with attentional states that put the focus on sense of warmth and heaviness for muscle groups or limbs.
    • Mental Imagery
      • Athletes use this cognitive psychological skill to create mental experiences of performances.
    • Hypnosis
      • This is a stated of hyper suggestibility that is induced. Positive suggestions regarding performance are planted in the subconscious mind.
      • This is effective for psychological arousal and even behavior or changing performances.
    • Systematic Desensitization
      • This is a mix of cognitive and somatic techniques allowing athletes to replace fear responses with various cues of relaxation.

Use of Arousal Techniques

  • Arousal reduction techniques should be employed when doing a newer or complex skill.
  • Arousal enhancement techniques should be used when doing simpler or well-learned skills.
  • The purpose of using these techniques is to let the athlete perform with focus and match their mental or physical intensity to the task’s demands.

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