Performance-enhancing shouts

Topic: Sport Psychology
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2012)
Article: Something to shout about: A simple, quick performance enhancement technique improved strength in both experts and novices
Authors: Amy S. Welch & Mark Tschampl
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

imagery_10_12_08_000547Have you ever watched tennis – particularly the women’s professional tennis association – and wondered why the athletes grunted as they struck the ball?  Though I cannot speak on behalf of any of the players, my assumption was that it increased the attention and ultimately performance of the athlete.

According to research by Amy Welch & Mark Tschampl, I was half right, and the grunting does improve performance, but the boost is related to increased strength and not increased attention.  Specifically, the investigators found that the strength of 25 expert and 25 novice martial artists as measured by a handgrip strength test was significantly higher when the martial artists grunted or made some similar verbal outburst.  In applying these results to a business setting, next time you have to move a file cabinet or other heavy object, grunt at what you feel is an appropriate level, and if your coworkers give you a funny look, just inform them that you are implementing the latest state-of-the-art evidence-based practice.

Welch, A.S.  & Tschampl, M. (2012). Something to shout about: A simple, quick performance enhancement technique improved strength in both experts and novices. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24(4), 418-428.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Sports_g372-Female_Tennis_Player_With_Racket_p78034.html

Characteristics athletes look for in a sport-psychology practitioner

Topic: Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2012)
Article: Athletes’ preferred characteristics and qualifications of sport psychology practitioners: A consumer market analysis
Authors: John R. Lubker, Amanda J. Visek, Jack C. Watson II, & Darius Singpurwalla
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

PR_004-_SI_-_29_02_12-049When choosing a sport-psychology practitioner, intercollegiate athletes prefer a female practitioner who is physically fit with high interpersonal skills, large amounts of sport knowledge, an ethnicity similar to that of the athlete, an athletic background, and a professional degree, according to research by John R. Lubker, Amanda J. Visek, Jack C. Watson II, & Darius Singpurwalla.  A total of 464 male and female intercollegiate athletes from Division I, II, and III institutions were surveyed and indicated their preferred gender, ethnicity, interpersonal skills, physical appearance, athletic background, and professional status of sport-psychology practitioners.  Overall, the athletes preferred someone who was similar to them (e.g., similar ethnicity), who has “walked-the-walk” (e.g., athletic background, physically fit), and who has some professional training.  Anecdotally, this reminds me of my friend who will walk out of any group-fitness class at the gym if the teacher is not fit and able to complete all of the exercises of the class herself.  Though this study did not speak to this point, I imagine that in most settings, the preferred practitioner is in some way similar to the client and has a successful background in the area that he or she is instructing on.

Lubker, J. R., Visek, A. J., Watson II, J. C.  & Singpurwalla, D. (2012). Athletes’ preferred characteristics and qualifications of sport psychology practitioners: A consumer market analysis. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24(4), 465-480.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

 

 

 

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Burned Out? It Might Be Time to Look at Your Goals (IO Psychology)

Topic: Burnout, Stress, Goals
Publication: Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Article: The 2×2 model of goal orientation and burnout: The role of approach-avoidance dimensions in predicting burnout
Authors: Naidoo, L. J., DeCriscio, A., Bily, H., Manipella, A., Ryan, M., & Youdim, J.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli

There have been times when we’ve all felt a little burned out from work. When we feel burned out the usual suspects are situational factors like the job, occupation, organizational characteristics, leadership, and individual differences. But there is one variable that has typically been ignored in the literature—our motivational dispositions, or in other words, our goals.

Burnout is typically defined as having three components: emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced personal efficacy. Dispositional preferences, or our goal orientation for certain kinds of goals may, be linked to burnout because burnout is often viewed as environmental or work demands getting in the way of achieving our personal goals.

Naidoo et al. suggested thinking of goal orientation as being broken down into a 2×2 table. On the one side is mastery-orientation, the people who think they can improve and often set goals that are challenging or developmental; and performance-orientation, the people who think ability is fixed so they set goals that are attainable and not as challenging. The other side of the table is approach versus avoidance, or striving toward a goal out of anticipating its positive outcomes, or out of avoiding negative outcomes associated with failing to attain it.

Naidoo et al. gathered student responses to questions regarding goal pursuit and burnout measurement. Using structural modeling, the authors found that avoidance goal orientations were positively related to the three aspects of burnout and approach goal orientations were negatively related.

In light of conservation of resources theory, these findings suggest that people with avoidant goal orientations are more sensitive to resource loss (not reaching goals) and less likely to seek help when they fail. Whereas those with approach goal orientations may be more resilient to burnout inducing conditions.

What does all this mean? The authors suggest that to help reduce burnout, organizations and leaders that help the goals of their employees become more mastery-approach oriented could help them become more resilient to stressful conditions when it isn’t realistic to change the situation. This is a prudent suggestion for any leader who can help define goals for their team members or who can help determine the cultural norms of goal setting.

Naidoo, L. J., DeCriscio, A., Bily, H., Manipella, A., Ryan, M., & Youdim, J. (2012). The 2 x 2 model of goal orientation and burnout: The role of approach-avoidance dimensions in predicting burnout. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(10), 2541-2563.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

 

source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Business_People_g201-Tired_Businessman_p67379.html

Smile, you may pitch better

Topic: Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2003)
Article: The relationship between emotional intelligence and performance among college
baseball players
Authors: S. Zizzi, H. Deaner, & D. Hirschhorn
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to recognize and use emotions. If I smile, do you recognize this as happiness? Or do you believe that me laughing means that I am sad? If you knew that a smile typically indicates a state of happiness, give yourself a gold star. Now that you are the Albert Einstein of recognizing emotions, can you use them? For instance, if you want to non-verbally convey how you are feeling, can you alter your body language so as to communicate your mood? If so, two gold stars for you. Since recognizing and using emotions seems important to the performance of everyday activities and communications, does recognizing and using emotions affect performance in other domains such as collegiate sports?

In investigating the relationship between emotional intelligence and athletic performance,
Zizzi, Deaner, and Hirschhorn examined the emotional intelligence and performance of 61
NCAA Division I collegiate baseball players. The players were divided into pitchers, 21,
and hitters, 40. The Emotional Intelligence Scale – a 33-item measure that is comprised of
the domains of appraisal and expression of emotion, regulation of emotion, and utilization of emotion – assessed emotional intelligence. The performance indicators of the pitchers were the number of earned runs, walks, hits, strikeouts, and wild pitches; and the performance indicators of the hitters were the number of hits, doubles, walks, and strikeouts. Results indicated that emotional intelligence was positively correlated with the total number of strikeouts by pitchers, but it was not related to any of the other indicators of pitching performance or any of the indicators of hitting performance.

Hmm, the results are less than clear. Emotional intelligence appears to predict
performance, but it only does so with one out of the nine performance indicators; it appears that the jury is still out. If I were a gambling man, I would bet that emotional intelligence not only predicts the performance of collegiate athletes, but also individuals in other settings such as the boardroom. Since emotional intelligence appears vital to effective communication, and communication is an important aspect of most tasks that involve more than one person, it should follow that the more emotionally intelligence someone is, the better they will be able to communicate, and the more effective and efficient they will perform. At least that’s what I think.

Zizzi, S., Deaner, H., & Hirschhorn, D. (2003). The relationship between emotional
intelligence and performance among college baseball players. Journal of Applied Sport
Psychology, 15:3, 262-269.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

 

source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Outdoor_Sports__Land_g220-Baseball_p73572.html

Score one for the small town!

Topic: Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2009)
Article: Place but not date of birth influences the development and emergence of athletic talent in American football
Authors: D. MacDonald, M. Cheung, J. Côté, & B. Abernethy
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (2008) contends that date of birth is relevant to the success of hockey and soccer players. Can that be true? As you ponder this, also consider the relevance of someone’s place of birth. Does the success of an athlete relate to the population size of the city that he or she was born in? For example, would you rather select an athlete who was born in February in a town of over 5,000,000 or an athlete born in September in a town of less then 500,000?

To address just such a question, researchers collected the birthday and place of birth information of 2,144 National Football League (NFL) players. No significant relationship involving birthday was found. There was not, for instance, an excess of players born in June and very few players who were born in August. Previously, it was thought (e.g., Gladwell) that players born right before the age cutoff in youth leagues would have an advantage because they would be older than their peers. A league of 15 years olds could have one boy who is 15 years old and three days and another who is 15 years old and 364 days. Since older children tend to be more physically developed than younger children, the older children could have an advantage.

As to the other finding, place of birth did have an effect: a disproportionate number of players were from cities with populations of less than 500,000. The proportion of athletes from major cities with over 5,000,000 people was less than what would be expected if it is assumed that larger cities should have more players in the NFL than smaller cities. Imagine that there are two groups of people trying out for the NFL. One group consists of 50 people, and the other group consists of five people. It is expected that more people from the group of 50 will make the NFL than from the group of 5 because the group of 50 is larger. If 10% of people who try out for the NFL make it, then the larger group would have five people who make it, while the smaller group would have only one. That is what would be expected, and it is the opposite of what was found.

This relationship between place of birth and professional-athlete status has also been found in the sports of baseball, ice hockey, basketball, and golf. In speculating on the mechanism of their findings, the authors contend that the environment of a town less than 500,000 is different than the environment of a city of over 5,000,000. Maybe a city has fewer football fields for aspiring athletes to practice on. Or maybe a city is not sufficiently safe for a child to practice the longer hours required to reach expertise, whereas the small town is relatively safer and has several parks and fields. This is only the tip of the iceberg of possible relevant environmental factors. The more important take home message is that the environment and social context that an individual grows up in may indeed impact the athletic performance of that individual.

MacDonald, D., Cheung, M., Côté, J., & Abernethy, B. (2009). Place but not date of birth
influences the development and emergence of athletic talent in American football. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 21(1), 80-90.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/United_Kingdom_g82-Jedburgh_p3005.html

Want increased performance? Provide social support (IO Psychology)

Topic: Development
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2009)
Article: An Intervention to Increase Social Support and Improve Performance
Authors: Paul Freeman, Tim Rees, and Lew Hardy
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

Can social support improve performance? According to Rees and Hardy, the four types of social support are emotional support, which refers to listening and talking things through; esteem support, such as emphasizing the positives; informational support, which includes advice and feedback; and tangible support, such as money and resources.

In investigating the relationship between social support and performance, Freeman, Rees, and Hardy tested the efficacy of increased social support on the performance of three golfers. It was found that social support increased the performance of all of the golfers. Though this study had a very small sample size, the results may still be helpful. For example, if employers ask how their employees are doing, congratulate them after their successes, and encourage them after their failures, they may see an increase in the performance of their department and ultimately the company’s bottom line.

Freeman, P., Rees, T., & Hardy, L. (2009). An intervention to increase social support and improve performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21(2), 186-200.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

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Does Practice Makes Perfect?

Topic: Teams, Development
Publication: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (2003)

Article: Sport-specific practice and the development of expert decision-making in team ball sports
Authors: J. Baker, J. Cote, & B. Abernethy
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

How long does an athlete need to practice before he or she becomes an expert?  In the 1970s, the amount was 10,000 hours, or, approximately 10 years (sound familiar to you “Outliers” fans?).  As of late, the theory has been refined to reflect the notion that quality is at least as important as the quantity of practice.  Deliberate practice, a high-quality type of practice that focuses on improving performance with a work-like fervor, has been shown to differentiate expert from non-expert athletes, academics, and artists.  

Though there has been research on the relationship between deliberate practice and athletes who play individual sports, such as golf and tennis, less research has been performed on the relationship between deliberate practice and athletes who play team sports, such as basketball.  In addressing this void, Baker, Cote, and Abernethy investigated if sport-specific practice (i.e., deliberate practice) differentiated expert from non-expert athletes in the team sports of basketball, netball, and field hockey.  It was found that the expert athletes had engaged in more deliberate practice than the non-expert athletes, with the expert athletes having practiced over 13 years and in excess of 4,000 hours since the age of 12. 

Though the research was performed on athletes, the findings appear to be applicable to business organizations as well.  A business could, for instance, first determine what constitutes deliberate practice, and then, implement the model into the trainings of new and current employees.  Since deliberate practice differentiates experts from non-experts in both individual and team settings, the training program should improve the performance of the employees, and in turn, the performance of the company as a whole.

Baker, J., Cote, J., & Abernethy, B. (2003). Sport-specific practice and the development of expert decision-making in team ball sports. Journal of applied sport psychology, 15(1), 12–25.

human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management