IMAGERY NOT USEFUL IN EARLY STAGES OF SKILL LEARNING
McKenzie, A. D., & Howe, B. L. (1997). The effect of imagery on self-efficacy for a motor skill. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28, 196-210.
The effect of mental imagery training on individuals' self-efficacy for a dart throwing task was evaluated using a replicated (M = 3; F = 3), single-subject experimental design. A mental imagery training program (15 sessions) consisted of sessions with a relaxation component, followed by specific imagery training. Ss were then asked to stand, perform a one-minute centering exercise, and image successful task performance. Finally, a self-efficacy and imagery rating scale was completed as well as performance of the task while blindfolded.
No general improvement effect on self-efficacy was demonstrated. Some Ss improved, others performed worse, while the remainder did not change. Five of the six Ss reported an improvement in ability to image the task, particularly kinesthetic qualities.
Implication. Imagery alone is insufficient to improve skill performance in novice athletes. Other factors, such as high ability to image, previous task experience, belief in the positive effect of imagery, previous relaxation and imagery experience, influence its effectiveness. It has long been recognized that imagery of a skill task is ineffective in the early stages of skill learning.
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