MENTAL SKILLS TRAINING IS ASSOCIATED WITH PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS IN GOLF
Thomas, P. R., & Fogarty, G. J. (1997). Psychological skills training in golf: The role of individual differences in cognitive preferences. The Sport Psychologist, 11, 86-106.
Adult male (N = 17) and female (N = 15) golfers of varying abilities (handicaps 4 - 43) from two golf-clubs in South Queensland, Australia, participated in imagery and self-talk training sessions over a period of two months. Changes in factors measured by the Golf Performance Survey (negative emotions and cognitions, mental preparation, automaticity, putting skill, and seeking improvement), and a golf-adapted version of the Sport Imagery Questionnaire (ratings of imagery and self-talk techniques) served as dependent variables. A further survey (Your Information Processing Preferences Scale - YIPPS) was devised but not psychometrically developed for this investigation. An Evaluation Questionnaire was also devised to assess opinions about the training experiences. A golf-skills test that measured hitting accuracy at various distances, and actual handicaps served as performance measures at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the study.
The Golf Performance Survey was administered at the beginning and end of the study. Some factorss at the end of the experimental period were significantly changed to those at the beginning, with negative emotions and cognitions diminishing, and seeking improvement and putting skill increasing. The YIPPS, which was administered at the start of the investigation, showed that golfers who used imagery also tended to use self-talk strategies. The Sport Imagery Questionnaire was administered during the first imagery training session and a week after the second (final) training session. There was a significant improvement in both knowledge and application of imagery and self-talk techniques. Handicap decreased marginally, but significantly over the duration of the investigation. Significant improvements of slightly more than 20% occurred in the hitting skills test. There were few Ss who exhibited a preference for either imagery or self-talk, both being highly correlated.
In general, there were improvements in psychological skills that were accompanied by improvements in golf performance skills. Imagery and self-talk are viable skills.
It should be realized that this investigation did not use a control group. It mainly demonstrates the social validity (acceptance) of psychological skills training.
Implication. Mental skills training improves aspects of sport psychology and in this case with golf, performance factors.
Return to Table of Contents for this issue.