POSITIVE PREPARATORY IMAGERY INFLUENCES TWO-PHASE MOTOR SKILL SUCCESS

Kruisselbrink, D., & MacKinnon, D. D. (2006). Influence of positive and negative outcome images on the putting success of skilled amateur golfers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1553.

"Putting comprises 43 2% of golf strokes, therefore putting well and consistently is important to success in golf. Between-groups research with unskilled golfers has shown the performance benefits of positive over negative outcome imagery. Can rehearsal of positive and negative images influence the putting success of individual skilled golfers?"

This study investigated the impact of positive and negative images on the putting success of individual skilled golfers using an alternating treatments, single-subjects research design. Ss were three amateur golfers meeting the inclusion criteria of (1) a Nova Scotia Golf Association handicap of <5, and (2) average visual and kinesthetic imagery ability scores >5 on the revised Movement Imagery Questionnaire (Hall & Martin, 1997). Golfers completed 50 seven-foot putts per day for four days, rehearsing a target positive or negative image prior to each putt. Ss were given positive or negative imagery instructions according to an alternating treatment design. Following each putt, golfers reported the image they had actually rehearsed prior to the putt (positive, negative, neither) which was recorded along with the outcome of the putt.

Ss demonstrated 70-80% compliance to positive imagery instructions and 62-76% compliance to negative imagery instructions. Regardless of the experimental condition in which the images occurred, data for each of the Ss showed that fewer attempts were required to achieve success when putts were preceded by positive images (average = 1.6 putts) and more attempts were required to achieve success when putts were preceded by negative images (average = 4.8 putts). No clear trend was seen for putts preceded by neutral images.

Implication. "The benefit of positive over negative pre-putt images can emerge on a case by case basis for skilled golfers who demonstrate adequate imagery ability. Researchers examining the impact of positive and negative imagery should expect approximately 20-35% of rehearsed images to be other than the instructed target image. For imagery direction research, this suggests that analyzing performance data on the basis of experimental condition will underestimate the true impact of imagery direction on performance; data should be analyzed on the basis of individual performance trials preceded by positive, negative, or neutral imagery content". Anticipated performances in two-phase motor skills, such as putting and throwing, should include successful positive imagery of the events.

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