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PSYC 3480
Dan Yarmey

Skill Acquisition and Anxiety in Sport and Exercise Introduction - the novice athlete is faced with the challenge of acquiring both simple and complex skills - the psychological foundations of skill acquisition depend first of all upon the basic prin- ciples of classical conditioning, operant learning, and observational learning - psychologists define learning as any relatively permanent change in behaviour, or the potential for behaviour change, produced by experience - learning can produce both positive and negative changes in performance - classical conditioning is the basis for many learned fears or anxiety effects and helps to explain why athletes have an aversion to performing certain actions - operant learning is a form of learning in which the individual learns associations be- tween what he/she does and the consequences for his/her actions - in observational learning athletes acquire skills, attitudes, and other types of behav- iours by watching the actions and the consequences of those behaviours - acquisition of motor skill goes through 3 phases: the cognitive phase, the associative phase, and the autonomous phase - skill acquisition depends upon emotional arousal, anxiety or motivation and learning Classical Conditioning - during the conditioning process the neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with the US, after several pairings the neutral stimulus is now considered a conditioned stimulus - the neutral stimulus is now the CS bad the response is the CR - extinction is when the CS is continually presented without the US Operant Conditioning - voluntary behaviours are controlled by reinforcement - positive reinforcement = positive stimulus - negative reinforcement = removal of negative stimulus - punishment = negative stimulus - athletes can be taught chains of desired responses by the process of shaping involving various schedules of positive and negative reinforcement, punishment, and omission training - extrinsic reinforcement or feedback can be gradually reduced (called faded feedback) as proficiency increases so that the athlete does not learn to become dependent on it - athletes can be reinforced indirectly by stimuli in the sporting environment, not just by feedback form coaches, parents or others - operant conditioning is particularly useful when coaches systematically use “behaviour coaching techniques” for the improvement and maintenance of desired behaviours - reinforcements or feedback can be informational, social, or material - premack principle - behaviour on an unpleasant task can be modified by the promised opportunity of a reward - operant techniques also include the principle of response cost, coaches can modify undesirable behaviours by taking away rewards that have already been awarded for pre- viously reinforce responses - aversive control through punishment is not unusual in sports because it seems to work and it seems to work quickly - punishment has several undesirable side effects though: athletes may habituate or adapt to the stimulus and eventually the punishment will lose effectiveness - punishment works by increasing anxiety and fear which reduces the joy of competition and may increase the probability of athletes quitting - a better remedy than the use of aversive control is the use of “removal” punishment e.g. benching a player - can introduce a teachable moment when the coach can explain the reasons for the punishment - removal is based on omission training, in response to undesired actions, the athletes lose the reward or pleasure of participating in drills or social aspects of practice - a good tactic is the “sandwich approach” - begin with a compliment about effort and those parts of the motor skill that were done well, then introduce the negative informa- tion followed by some words of encouragement Observational Learning - modeling or observational learning occurs when an athlete learns certain responses by observing someone else and then imitating their behaviour - observational learning depends on: (1) Attention to the important features of modeled behaviour, (2) Retention of these features in memory to guide later performance, (3) Re- production of the observed behaviours and (4) athletes have to be Motivated to repeat- edly practice and put this information into their own use - a potential problem is that too much information could be demonstrated in a single session - repeated showings/distributed practice/spaced practice is thought to be superior than a single massed practice session in a relatively longer time frame - temporal spacing and increased demonstrations allow for better focus of attention and mental rehearsal of different aspects of the skill Phases of Motor Skill Acquisition - the acquisition of motor skills extends across a continuum from novice to expert 1. Cognitive Phase - understand how the skill is to be performed - coaches verbally describe the skill and demonstrate by visual cues what has to be done, and the learner having given proper focus of attention to the central details will construct a mental representation or image of the movements - the learner is developing a motor program or schemata between their nervous system and muscular system which will serve as a set of instructions to guide the desired move- ments - visual attention is solely fixed on the skill 2. Associative Phase - lasts much longer than the cognitive phase often extending over weeks, months, and years - the learner practices the skill to high levels of accuracy and consistency without having to explicitly attend so carefully to the physical execution of the skill - movements become more and more automated and attention can be given to other cognitive demands such as planning and anticipation - visual control of movement is gradually replaced by proprioceptive control or “feel” 3. Autonomous Phase - permits execution of the skill to be automatic without con- scious thought or attention to the details of the movement or the mechanics of the skill - conscious attention to movements involved in the skill or to technical knowledge seri- ously disrupts performance, especially in high-speed sports - the motor program encoded in the nervous system and its connections to the muscular system is executed on demand as game situations change - instructions given to athletes during this phase help to maintain skill levels and to moti- vate the athlete to continue to search for excellence Motor Skills and Repetition - the learning of a particular movement or pattern of movements depends upon the rep- etition of both Fine Motor Skills and Gross Skills - an emphasis on fine motor skills and movement accuracy utilizes small muscles whereas gross motor skills depend more on the contraction of large skeletal muscles with the purpose of extending power and strength - motor skills can be categorized as Open meaning the ability to quickly change targets or be involved with objects and other athletes or Closed, dealing with stationary targets or objects - sport skills also may be described along a continuum anchored at one end by being Discrete (having a definite beginning and end, Serial (short sequences of movements done in a prescribed order) and Continual (repetitive in nature with the same move- ments being made over and over) - repetition, repetition, and more repetition is necessary for a skill to become complete - deliberate practice should involve repeated, full-out sessions, under optimal training conditions, with well-defined tasks of appropriate difficulty, constant feedback and the correction of errors - repetition without intent to improve is insufficient Anxiety in Sport - the athlete is apprehensive and dreads being in the situation, and may interpret an op- ponent or the event as a threat to him or her in some way - they expect the worse about self-performance and may engage in task-irrelevant think- ing rather than focused concentration Tuesday, October 30, 2012 Chapter 9: Youth Involvement and Positive Development in Sport Common Myths about Aggression and Moral Behaviour in Sport MYTH: Involvement in youth sport builds character MYTH: Involvement in sport leads to negative outcomes, such as violence and aggres- sion MYTH: To become elite athletes, children must specialize in their sport by age 6 or 7 MYTH: Parents should limit their involvement in their children’s sport MYTH: Youth-sport coaches should be specialists in the sport they are coaching Introduction - 2 million children aged 5 to 14 (51%) regularly take part in organized sports - the significance of sport as an integral avenue for youth development has been formal- ly recognized as an important global issue - in 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UN- ESCO) organized the Third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III) - a declaration was make to start a global movement toward youth sport and physical education participation - these organizations’ recognition of the health and developmental benefits of youth sport comes at a critical time as cultures around the world are experiencing the institu- tionalization of youth sport - socioeconomic status and environmental factors are becoming greater barriers to youth-sport opportunities as programs become increasingly expensive, competitive and elitist Objectives of Youth Sport - youth sport has the potential to accomplish 3 important objectives in children’s devel- opment: 1. Opportunities to be physical active, which can lead to improved physical health 2. Opportunities to learn important life skills such as co-operation, discipline, leadership 3. Critical for the learning of motor skills - youth-sport programs that focus on fun, skill development and maximum participation encourage people to stay involved and achieve success at all developmental stages of life and all levels of sport Outcomes Associated With Youth-Sport Participation - for the most part, we hear of the positive outcomes: health benefits, increased self-es- teem, friendships, discipline, teamwork, and competence - more frequently, we are hearing of more negative experiences: insensitive coaches, pressures from parents, peer victimization, aggression, and decreased self-esteem - a key to understanding whether youth-sport programs foster positive outcomes is to first identify the processes that occur within them Positive Outcomes Negative Outcomes Physical Health - cardiovascular fitness - overuse injuries - weight control - eating disorders - muscular strength Positive Outcomes Negative Outcomes Psychological Develop- - fun and enjoyable experi- - decreased self-percep- ment ences tions - challenge - decreased self-esteem - increased self-esteem - isolation from teammates - increased life satisfaction - excessive pressure - decreased stress - burnout Social Development - positive relationships - aggression - citizenship - assault - social status and success - decreased moral reason- - leadership skills ing Principles of Positive Youth Development Developmental Assets - Benson has outlined 40 developmental assets, commonly termed the “building blocks” for human development - the development of these assets in youth embodies a broad vision of communities and youth interacting in positive and effective manners - the assets fall into 2 broad categories” external and internal External Assets - support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and construc- tive use of time Internal Assets - commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity - the more developmental assets an adolescent possesses, the greater their likelihood of developing in a positive and healthy manner - the more assets an adolescent possesses, the more likely he or she will thrive and less likely they will use alcohol or be depressed, suicidal or violent - programs with Benson’s assets have been found to lead to positive youth development Desirable Youth-Sport Program Settings - there are 8 features of settings that are most likely to foster positive assets in youth - all of these should be considered by policy makers, sport organizations, parents and coaches when designing and implementing youth-sport programs - the 8 features are: physical and psychological safety, appropriate structure, supportive relationships, opportunities to belong, positive social norms, support for efficacy and mattering, opportunities for skill building, and integration of family, school and communi- ty efforts Fostering Initiative through Constructive Activities - there is also an interest in the type of activities that lead to positive youth development - there are 2 categories: relaxed and constructive leisure activities Relaxed Leisure Activities - activities that are enjoyable but not demanding in effort e.g. watching TV Constructive Leisure Activities - enjoyable but require sustained effort toward the achievement of a clear goal e.g. sport, music, art - constructive foster initiative development Initiative - the ability to be motivated from within and to direct attention and effort toward a challenging goal over time - initiative is a core quality of positive physical, psychological and social development - activities promoting initiative development must have 3 essential elements: they must be intrinsically motivating, involve concerted attention toward specific goal and occur over an extended period of time - sport participation is the most popular constructive leisure activity for youth - youth devote more attention to sports and games than to other daily life activities such as schoolwork or watching television - Danish developed a program called SUPER (Sports United to Promote Education and Recreation) to teach life skills to young athletes through a peer-led series of 18 modules taught like sport clinics - also provides opportunities for coaches and athletes to demonstrate, model and prac- tise what they are teaching and learning - unfortunately, the principles of the program are not always reproduced within commu- nity or school sport systems, not all community and school programs create enjoyable and challenging environments that are able to develop initiative and life skills in youth while sustaining their engagement over time Five C’s of Positive Youth Development - competence, character, connection, confidence, and caring/compassion - the developmental theory of positive youth development suggests that policies must be implemented to allow families and programs to foster and promote positive develop- ment, if this occurs, youth will demonstrate the 5 C;s of positive development - collectively, these processes will lead to a 6th C: contribution Considerations For Youth-Sport Programs - developmental assets, setting features, and the 5 C’s of positive development should be considered when sport programs are being constructed - although it can be assumed that most youth-sport programs intend to foster positive youth development, research indicates many programs may be failing - it is important to first examine 2 primary factors contributing to positive and negative experiences in youth: program activities and adult influences Youth-Sport Program Activities - coaches and programs must consider the differing implications of deliberate play, de- liberate practice and early specialization Deliberate Play, Deliberate Practice, and Early Specialization - a common trend among adults involved in regular sport and physical activity is that they were involved in a broad range of organized sports and deliberate play activities during youth Deliberate Play - activities designed to maximize inherent enjoyment, theses are regu- lated by flexible rules adapted from standardized sport rules and are set up and moni- tored by the children or by an involved adult - children typically modify rules to find a point where their game most resembles the ac- tual sport but still allows for play at their level e.g. playing on the street or in a field - children are less concerned with the outcome of their behaviour than with their behav- iour - Ericsson, Cramp and Tesch-Romer suggest that the most effective learning occurs through involvement in highly structured activities defined as deliberate practice Deliberate Practice - activities that require effort, generate no immediate reward and are motivated by the goal of improving performance rather than the goal of enjoyment, early specialization is often characterized by high amounts of deliberate practice and low amounts of deliberate play Early Specialization - limiting participation to one sport that is practiced on a year- round basis - deliberate play and deliberate practice could be placed at opposite ends of a continu- um - behaviours could be located along the continuum, from those that are primarily moti- vated by a process-experimentation perspective (deliberate play) to those that are moti- vated by a goal-directed perspective (deliberate practice) - when individuals are involved in deliberate play, they experiment with new or different combinations of behaviours, not necessarily in the most effective way to improve perfor- mance - when individuals are involved in deliberate practice, they exhibit behaviour focused on improving performance by the most effective means available - may not be the most enjoyable but will be the most relevant to improving performance Early Specialization and Deliberate Practice Considerations - from a health perspective, an overemphasis on deliberate practice at a young age and early specialization can lead to dropout, muscle overuse, injury and athletes failure to develop transferable skills - early specialization often has harmful effects on emotional and psychological develop- ment e.g. decreased enjoyment, disappointment, discouragement, and burnout - early specialization is also a concern for youth’s social development because it can lead to missed social opportunities experienced through early diversification - from a skill-acquisition perspective, there is evidence that early specialization and in- creased focus on deliberate practice during the early years can be effective in producing elite performers, however there are many costs - deliberate play and involvement in various sporting activities may serve as a more cost-effective way for youth to explore their physical capacities in various contexts and to develop their sport skills - deliberate play and early diversification are important during the first few years - much research suggests that involvement in deliberate practice is a consistent factor that differentiates elite from non-elite athletes - reducing the acquisition of sport skills to a single dimension (deliberate practice) fails to acknowledge important developmental, motivational, and psychosocial aspects of hu- man abilities - however the peak age in some sports tends to be quite young, athletes must specialize early in order to reach the highest levels - in these sports, extreme caution should be used - overall, early specialization and too much emphasis on deliberate practice activities during the early years of sport involvement may lead to health problems or withdrawal - instead, an emphasis on various sport activities and deliberate play activities during childhood is likely to have immediate developmental and long-term health benefits - many youth-sport programs are inherently designed to eventually expect specialization as athletes age and mature - sport programmers should aim to offer both specialization (deliberate practice) and recreational programs (deliberate play) so that all adolescents can continue to enjoy and participate in sport Role of Coaches - influence children’s competence beliefs, life-skill development, sport enjoyment and motivation for sport participation - however, youth coaches who place primary emphasis on winning sometimes exploit their athletes rather than consider their psychological and social best interests - youth developmental programs, such as sport, have the potential to “build a better kid” but the personal characteristics of group leaders are critical to the success of all youth development programs - coaches influences on youth can be categorized into 3 main areas: psychological growth, social skills, and motor development Coaches’ Roles in Children’s Psychological Growth - the most influential studies took place in 2 stages and was centred on the development and assessment of a program called coach effectiveness training (CET), which was aimed at improving coaches abilities to interact effectively with their young athletes - trained coaches were more supportive, provided more reinforcement and encourage- ment and were less punitive than non-trained coaches - participants who played for trained coaches exhibited a significant increase in self-es- teem and a decrease in anxiety throughout the season - CET program can help to create more positive and cohesive team atmospheres in youth sport and reduce attrition rates among young athletes - the coach-athlete relationship also has an important influence on young athletes expe- riences of sport - 3 components are important (3 C’s model): closeness (feelings of trust and respect, co-orientation (commitment to maintain relationships) and complementarity (cooperative and supportive behaviours) Coaches’ Roles in Developing Children’s Social Skills - prime position to increase children’s prosocial behaviours, such as cooperation and re- sponsibility, and decrease children’s antisocial behaviours, such as cheating and ag- gression - roles of integration, transfer, empowerment, and coach-athlete relationships are impor- tant roles in leading youth form irresponsibility to respect, participation, self-direction, and caring - preliminary teaching strategies are counseling time, awareness talks, group meetings and reflection time - coaches direct and indirect teaching strategies are determinants of young athletes’ psychosocial development and positive outcomes through sports - unfortunately, studies observing youth-sport coaches in real-life situations indicate that most coaches do not explicitly teach players appropriate social behaviours - despite valuing social skills, coaches often behave in manners that conflict with chil- dren’s development of appropriate social behaviours - several authors have reported that coaches behaviours during games are directed pri- marily to winning rather than toward players actions and the development of players so- cial skills - coaches sometimes set poor examples of fair play (becoming hostile when losing) - coaches play a crucial role in enabling young athletes to become self-controlled, con- structive members of a team, and productive members of society - unfortunately, sport settings stimulate a change in social values and moral reasoning patterns e.g. children believe violent acts are acceptable - coaches should not “use language or techniques that might encourage participants to separate their sport experiences from ‘real life’” - youth sport should be seen as a medium through which social values can be learned and transferred to real-life situations Coaches’ Roles in Developing Children’s Motor Skills - key variables that affect children’s learning of physical skills are on-task practice time and the coaches’ instructional behaviours - 5 steps are universal to teaching motor skills: (1) assess entry skill, (2) provide instruc- tion, (3) facilitate practice, (4) provide feedback, and (5) evaluate learning - these 5 steps together compose a teaching process necessary for learning to occur - promotion of quality instruction by coaches and participation in various sport contexts will maximize children’s learning of fundamental motor skills - the
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