Weinberg, R., Seabourne, T., & Jackson, A. (1987). Arousal and relaxation instructions prior to the use of imagery: Effects on image controllability, vividness and performance. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 18, 205-214.

This study assessed the effects of arousal or relaxation on imagery. The quality of imagery and ensuing performance on a variety of motor tasks were measured.

Male Ss (N = 42) enrolled in self-defense classes (3 x wk; 16 weeks) underwent a series of experiences. The first 6 weeks served as a baseline for the performance tests, which included 3 karate measures and one for muscular endurance. Starting in Week 7, Ss were matched based on their baseline ability measures and randomly assigned to arousal/imagery, relaxation/imagery, or placebo conditions. Ss were tested in Weeks 12 and 16 being told to use their mental preparation strategy just prior to each performance test.

Results indicated that the relaxation/imagery condition produced significantly better performance on the karate skills than the other conditions. No other main effects or interactions reached significance. In addition, no significant between-group differences were found for any of the imagery measures. Ss generally reported clear, vivid, controllable images.

Implication. In novice Ss learning karate, imagery following relaxation facilitated improved performances. Opportunities to reflect on the nature of skills being learned and the learning experience itself could enhance the quality of learning and how it is reflected in performance. It is worthwhile to provide opportunities for learners to image the learning process during periods of instruction.

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