The effect of mental practice type on dart-throwing performance

The effect of mental practice type on dart-throwing performance

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The effect of mental practice type on dart-throwing performance
Joseph, Todd Allen
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University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- Psychology -- Masters -- USF
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ABSTRACT: The present study used a sample of 171 college students from the University of South Florida to examine the effects of different types of mental practice on dart-throwing performance. This study examined the effects of imagery and video modeling on an immediately following physical task As suspected, the video modeling condition under these circumstances was associated with poorer performance than the imagery and control conditions. The imagery condition, however, resulted in no difference in performance from the control condition. Discussions of the results and future avenues of research (including gender effects) are also mentioned.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2004.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Todd Allen Joseph.

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The effect of mental practice type on dart-throwing performance
h [electronic resource] /
by Todd Allen Joseph.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2004.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 36 pages.
3 520
ABSTRACT: The present study used a sample of 171 college students from the University of South Florida to examine the effects of different types of mental practice on dart-throwing performance. This study examined the effects of imagery and video modeling on an immediately following physical task As suspected, the video modeling condition under these circumstances was associated with poorer performance than the imagery and control conditions. The imagery condition, however, resulted in no difference in performance from the control condition. Discussions of the results and future avenues of research (including gender effects) are also mentioned.
Adviser: Pezzo, Mark.
Dissertations, Academic
x Psychology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
0 856


The Effect Of Mental Practice T ype On Dart-Throwing Performance by Todd Allen Joseph A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Psychology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Mark Pezzo, Ph.D. Douglas Rohrer, Ph.D. James Eison, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 27, 2004 Keywords: imagery, sport, video, modeling, skill Copyright 2004 Todd Allen Joseph


Dedication This thesis is dedicated to my family and friends who have supported me throughout my academic career. Without their support, I would never have been able to accomplish what I have. Thank you guys, I love you.


Acknowledgements I would like to thank the f aculty and staff of the Psychology department at USF for their continued support of my graduate educat ion. I would specifical ly like to thank my advisor, Dr. Mark Pezzo, for all of his gui dance on this project. His comments and suggestions were crucial to th e success of this endeavor. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. James Eison and Dr. Douglas Rohrer for their help on this project. Their suggestions were extremely he lpful. Additionally, I'd like to express my gratitude to my research assi stant, Alexis Scher, without whom this project would never have been completed. Her hard work and de dication to the project really made it a success. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. D ouglas Maynard of the State University of New York at New Paltz for instilling in me a sense of the scientific nature of psychology. Without his early (and continued) mentori ng, I would not be where I am today. Thank you all.


i Table of Contents List of Figures ii Abstract iii Introduction 1 Methods 10 Participants 10 Design 10 Materials 10 Procedure 11 Results 12 Discussion 18 References 21 Appendices 25 Appendix 1: Mental Practice Condition In structions 26 Appendix 2: Description of Instructiona l Video Condition 27 Appendix 3: Control Condition Arti cle 28


ii List of Figures Figure 1. Effect of Mental Practic e Type on Post-test Error 14 Figure 2. Effect of Mental Practic e Type and Pre-test Skill level on Improvement 15 Figure 3. Effect of Mental Practice Type and Gender on Improvement 17


iii The Effect of Mental Practice T ype on Dart-Throwing Performance Todd Allen Joseph ABSTRACT The present study used a sample of 171 college students from the University of South Florida to examine the e ffects of different types of mental practice on dart-throwing performance. This study ex amined the effects of imagery and video modeling on an immediately following physical task As suspected, the video modeling condition under these circumstances was asso ciated with poorer performance than the imagery and control conditions. The imag ery condition, however, resulted in no difference in performance from the contro l condition. Discussions of the results and future avenues of research (including gender effects) are also mentioned.


1 Introduction Mental Practice is a broad term that refers to any non-physical practice of a physical task. Suinn (1997) defines it as a "generic term, covering a diverse set of activities" (p. 190) aimed at improving perf ormance. These can range from thinking abstractly about performing a task to simulating internally all of the sights and sounds and feelings associated with the task in order to bring about an improvement in performance. Studies have shown that at hletes in many sports use mental practice techniques. These include golf (McMaster, 1993), marksmanship (Barabasz, Barabasz, & Bauman, 1993; Kim & Tennant, 1993), tennis (DeFranc esco & Burke, 1997), gymnastics (Ligget & Hamada, 1992), archery (Robazza & Bortoli, 1998), and darts (Straub, 1989), among others. Studies have also shown the effectiven ess of particular type s of mental practice, or mental practice in general (Barabasz et al., 1993; Butler, 1996; Gould & Damarjian, 1996; Hardy & Callow, 1999; Kim & Te nnant, 1993; Ligget & Hamada, 1993; McMaster, 1993; Roure, Collet, Deschaum es-Molinaro, Delhomme, Dittmar, &VernetMaury, 1999; Suinn, 1996; Vealy & Walter, 1993). Many types of mental practice exist. Fo r example, Defrancesco and Burke (1997) discovered as many as seven, non-physical pe rformance-enhancing techniques used by professional tennis players. These included im agery, mental preparation, relaxation, goalsetting, self-talk, thought reframing, and self -hypnosis. According to Annett (1995), one particular form of practice, imagery (sometim es called "motor imagery"), can be further


2 subdivided according to the perspective one takes while imaging. For example, one may take an interior view to recreate the p hysical experience. This c ould involve a kinesthetic component in which the person imaging is ex pected not only to see the actions taking place, but also to actually "feel" them. The kinesthetic component focuses on the sensations experienced in one's muscles as if they were physically performing the task (although the task is not actually performed). In contrast, an exterior view generally ignores the kinesthetic aspect s of the task, and instead fo cuses entirely on seeing the actions being performed, either by one's self or by another person. Most studies, however, do not distinguis h between different types of mental practice in their studies. Often times, researcher s will not even report what type of mental practice was used! Murphy (1994) attributes this to what he calls the "mental practice model." This is a paradigm that leads most researchers to treat all mental practice as equal. As a result, most studies do not comp are different types of mental practice, but merely compare mental practice to a no-practice cont rol condition or to an effective form of physical practice. Further, few studies actually manipulat e mental practice. Instead, they “correlate” the self-reported use of mental practice by athlet es with measures of their performance (Murphy, 1994). Consistent wi th the undifferentiated “mental practice model” described above, mental practice regimens used by athletes often consist of a conglomeration of several differe nt varieties, with little or no information reported about the relative contribution of each. Understa ndably, Murphy suggests that we may have reached the limit of the amount of knowledge we can obtain th rough this type of research. It is important that researchers be more spec ific about what type of mental practice is used in their studies.


3 Modeling is a process by which a pers on learns or improves at a task by mimicking another person performing the task (Bandura, 1986). Much research has been done showing that this is a strong mechan ism for learning behaviors. The "target" behavior may be presented either in person, or in some other m ode (e.g. instructional video). For example, using 40 elite child ta ble-tennis players, Li-Wei, Qi-Wei, Orlick, and Zitzelsberger (1992) compared the eff ectiveness of a mental practice regimen (including video modeling) condition and a vi deo modeling alone cond ition to a control condition. The results showed that for these el ite players, the mental regimen produced an improvement in performance, while the ot her two conditions di d not. The mental practice regimen condition included (among othe r things) use of internal imagery (an interior view). Although much research has been done on mental practice in general, very few studies have been done comparing the effectiv eness of different types of mental practice techniques and their varying effects on diffe rentially skilled individuals. One exception comes from Straub (1989), who compared th e effect of 3 different mental training programs, physical practice, and a no practice condition on the dart-throwing performance of high and low skilled partic ipants (a 5x2 between subjects factorial design). His 3 mental training programs were commercially av ailable tools designed to improve physical task performance. One progr am consisted of a set of 6 audiocassettes designed to teach athletes to "relax, set goals, image, and improve their self-esteem" (Straub, 1989, p. 134). This training regimen al so used self-hypnosis. A second program also used self-hypnosis, in addition to traini ng athletes to relax, concentrate, problem solve, and mentally rehearse. The final comprehensive program examined by Straub


4 consisted of "seven major psyc hological skills: attention cont rol, emotional control, selfrejuvenation and energization, body awarene ss, developing and maintaining selfconfidence, programming the subconscious mind, and cognitive restructuring" (p 134). Straub made two important findings. First, over all, those receiving mental training performed better than those in the no practice control condi tion (although only two of the programs differed from the control conditi on in a post hoc analysis). Second, an interaction occurred between the original skill level of the participant and the type of practice received. Although all mental trai ning programs were equally effective for highly skilled participants, they differed in th eir effectiveness for unskilled participants. No explanation for this was offered. Straub also found that, as e xpected, highly skilled participants performed be tter, on average, than lower skilled participants. Although some studies have shown that ment al practice is often as effective as physical practice (e.g. Straub, 1989), others ha ve not found this to be the case (e.g. Millard, Mahoney, & Wardrop, 2001; Hird, La nders, Thomas, & Horan, 1991). For example, Millard et al. found that mental pr actice was not effective at improving novices’ performance of a “wet exit” kayak sk ill, although physical practice was. Rushall and Lippman (1998) suggest one possible explanation for this discrepancy. They contend that mental pr actice procedures vary depending upon the goal that the athlete has, with th e two most common goals being skill development and performance preparation A person interested in learning a new skill will employ mental practice techniques differently than someone trying to mentally prepare in the minutes prior to competition. Although individuals with either goal can benefit from using some of the same techniques (e.g. imagery), impl ementation of these techniques is usually


5 quite different. In a skill-learning setti ng, the individual may participate in mental practice several times a week for 15 minutes or more at a time. In a performancepreparation setting, the indivi dual may only engage in mental practice for a few minutes directly prior to competition. Strategies that are effective for one goal, may not be effective for the other, and may even be detrimental. Using Rushall and Lippman's approach, the programs examined by Straub (1989) appear to focus on skill development rather than on performance preparation. In c ontrast, the program of Millard et al. (2001) may be better suited to immediate performan ce enhancement of expe rts than to skill development of novices. The programs evaluated by Straub (1989) al l used a variety of popular mental training techniques including relaxation, visualization, goal se tting, concentration training, self-hypnosis, and self -esteem improvement. While some of these seem to fall squarely in the realm of mental training (e.g., visualization), others may not clearly belong (e.g., self-esteem). A lthough the pursuit of ecological validity may suggest that we should combine as many real-life aspects of mental training into a study as possible (as in Straub & Li-Wei, et al.), it seems wise at this point to focus on the component parts of those programs. The current study aims to tease apart some of these confounded variables inherent in studies of comp rehensive mental training programs. One theory of mental practi ce is of particular interest to those studying the effects of mental imagery. The neuromuscular theory holds that imagery activates procedural memories for both the stimuli and the physiologi cal responses associated with the activity they are imaging (Suinn, 1997). This, in tur n, activates the centra l nervous system and causes neuromuscular innervations almost as strong as those associated with the actual


6 physical task (Suinn, 1997). This stimulation strengthens the connections between the motor cortex and the associated muscles, creating better performan ce of the mentally practiced task in the future (Suinn, 1997) Rushall and Lippman (1998) discuss this phenomenon in some detail, referring to it wi th the term, the "ideo-motor effect." This model also implies that if a person physica lly or mentally practices an improper technique (due to experien ce with an incorrect physical technique), then their performance of the incorrect technique will be enhanced, not the performance of the proper, desired technique. Other theories of mental practice that are based on general arousal, relaxation, or motivation mechanisms wouldn't predict that mentally practicing an improper technique would result in poorer performance (for a discussion of various classical theories of mental practice, see Grouios, 1992). So, under the general neuromuscular mode l, mental practice is believed to enhance performance by repeatedly activating the neuromuscular pathway via a mental representation of the task. Results of a study by Hardy and Callow (1999) seem to support this model. In their study, karateists (experts) were taught a new kata in one experiment and sport science students (novi ces) were taught a ne w gymnastics floor routine in another. They were then given eith er internal or external imagery instructions with or without a kinesthetic imagery component. Imagery in both of these experiments occurred over several weeks. In both expe riments, an external imagery was more effective in improving performance than was an internal imagery. In addition, kinesthetic imagery had no effect. This is expected under the model, because none of these participants had an internal representation of the physical task, since it was a new task to them. In a third experiment, high ability ro ck climbers improved their performance using


7 both visual imagery and kinesthetic imagery for just 2 minutes prior to task performance. This again makes sense under the neuromuscula r theory, because the rock-climbing task they were asked to do is presumably extremel y similar to things they have done before. Tasks such as rock climbing require the repeated use of familiar techniques, whereas learning a new kata or floor routine likely involves the use of novel techniques or muscle use sequences. In addition to behavioral ev idence supporting the neuromuscular theory, some physiological evidence also exists. Fo r example, Decety and Ingvar (1990) showed that some of the same areas of the brai n that are involved in coordinating physical activity are also activated by mental imag ery. Decety, Jeannerod, Germain, and Pastene (1991) also seem to support the neurom uscular theory, having found additional physiological evidence consistent with comm on neurological struct ures being in use during imagery and physical performance. It should be pointed out, however, that although the majo rity of researchers (e.g. Jeannerod, 1995) seem convinced that some fo rm of neuromuscular th eory best explains the mechanism behind imagery enhancing performance, some do not agree. Jowdy and Harris (1990) did not find any significant difference in neuromuscular activation between high and low skilled jugglers who were imagin ing themselves juggling. This study does not seem to be a real threat to these ne uromuscular theories. Even though Jowdy and Harris seemed to use an inte rnal perspective w ith a kinesthetic component, the small sample sizes used (n=23 high-skilled, n=15 low-skilled) makes it hard to believe they would have had enough power to find a real effect if one did exist. The present experiment was designed to st udy the effects of these different types of mental practice on the perf ormance of a physical task (d art-throwing). I compared the


8 effects of 3 different experimental conditions (imagery, instructional video, and control) on dart-throwing performance, controlling fo r initial ability (as measured by a dartthrowing pretest. In this study, the mental practice was utilized to fulfill a competitionperformance-preparation type of goal desc ribed by Rushall and Lippman (1998). This means that the mental practice was carried out for a short duration directly prior to performance measurement. Additionally, initia l ability was used to make performance predictions. I hypothesize that participants in the cu rrent study will perform best when their mental practice best mirrors the proper tec hniques involved in the physical task. I assume that highly skilled people will have a more e ffective physical technique than low-skilled people on any particular task. For this part icular study, I will compare the improvement in dart-throwing ability of differentially skil led participants under in structional video and an internal-kinesthetic imagery condition. For highly skilled participants, who alrea dy have a personalized, accurate internal model of the skills used in performing the task, the imagery condition will give them a chance to mentally practice their proven pe rsonal techniques, thus priming them for actual performance. This is because the imagery condition has a kinesthetic component, one important aspect of strengthening under the neuromuscular model of mental practice (Fery & Morizot, 2000; Rushall & Lippman, 199 8). I believe that for highly skilled participants, the instructional video will be of little help. Indeed, it may impair performance, by interfering w ith the activation of brain/muscle connections already associated with successful performa nce (Rushall & Lippmann, 1998). Additionally, incorporating new techniques in to the performance of a task may lead to over-thinking


9 about the task during performance. Because thinking too much about a task during performance can lead to a decline in pe rformance (McMaster, 1993), we may see a decline in performance for those in the video condition on the post-test. My expectations for low skilled partic ipants in the imagery condition are the opposite of those for highly skilled particip ants. I do not expect that the internalkinesthetic imagery condition will improve pe rformance to any large degree, because there will be no well-established physical or mental routine to strengthen or prime. In fact, since they may be ment ally practicing improper techniques, an imagery condition may result in poorer performance than that found in the control participants (as a result of a stronger performance of the unsuccessful te chnique). In addition, because low skilled individuals do not have an accura te internal model of the correct techniques involved in the task, an instructional vi deo, which demonstrates proper technique, should do the best job at enhancing their performance in the l ong term. However, because the goal of this mental practice is immediate preparation, low skilled participants may not have sufficient time to accurately assimilate the new technique. Overall, I hypothesize that conditions allowing freedom to rehearse a personal internal model of a task will be more benefici al to highly skilled participants while those offering greater degrees of guidance will be more beneficial to participants with low skill levels. However, it is possible that too mu ch guidance may result in over-thinking during performance, which may actually result in poorer performance. This study will use the task of dart throwing to test these hypot heses. The dependent variables will be the summed score based on the radial distance from the center of a bull's-eye and the improvement in skill from pre-test to post-test.


10 Method Participants I recruited 171 (130 female, 41 male) participants through the USF psychology department's online participant pool, wh ich is mainly populated by undergraduate psychology students. The participants for this study ranged in age from 18 to 34 years with a mean of 20.65. Each participant had normal vision (or corrected to normal) and hearing and had no other physical impairments that would have limited their participation in the study. The self-reported dart throwing skill level of th e participants ranged from 19 with a median of 3 and a mean of 3.44 (m easured on a self-report scale which ranged from 1-10, with 1 being the worst dart-thrower in the world and 10 being the best dartthrower in the world). Design This study compared 3 levels of the inde pendent variable (mental practice) while controlling for the covariate of initial ability (as measured by the mean radial error on a dart-throwing pre-test). Mean radial error on a post-test of dart-throwing performance was the dependent variable. Primary analyses will be conducted using a 3 x 2 (Condition: video, control, imagery x Skill: expert, novice) completely fact orial design Gender and a self-rating of dart-throwi ng ability were also measured for subsequent analysis. Materials Materials for this study consisted of a set of specific imagery directions for the participants in the imagery condition. The instructions we re designed to promote an internal-kinesthetic imagery perspective in those listening (see Appendix 1). A fiveminute, professionally produced instructional dart-throwing video segment was used to


11 test the hypotheses involving modeling th rough instruction (see Appendix 2 for a description). For the control condition, a typewritten essay on the history of dart throwing was used (Appendix 3). All conditions were designed to be the same duration (5 minutes). Printed participant directions were used to make the procedures standardized (they were read to the participant by the rese archer, instructions for all conditions can be found in Appendix 1). During the performance assessment phase of the study, five metal tipped genericbrand darts were used. A 4'x4' piece of 1" thick light blue Styrofoam insulation board was used as a target. A red 4cm diameter bull's-eye was painted in the center with black concentric circles painted at radii of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 cm. Numbers were written in the spaces between the circles, representing the distance from the center of the bull's-eye. Any dart landing outside the largest circ le was counted as 60 cm of error. This system eliminated the n eed to measure the exact distance of each dart from the exact center of the target. The board was hung so that the center of the bull's-eye was 68 inches from the floor and a piece of marking tape was placed on the floor 8' from the wall that the board was hung on as a mark for people to stand behi nd while throwing the darts (both standard distances for recreati onal dart-throwing). Procedure Upon arrival, participants read and signed an informed consent form, and then were randomly assigned to one of three expe rimental conditions (imagery, instructional video, or control). The researcher then obtai ned some demographic information (age and gender) as well as a self-rating of their own dart-throwing ability (on a scale from 1


12 (worst) to 10 (best)). The entire administration was done individually, not in groups (to minimize performance anxiety). Initial dart-throwing ability was then measured by having each participant throw 5 darts 3 times each in succession for a total of 15 throws. The error for each of the darts thrown was recorded and a mean radial error for each person was determined (this was the pre-test score). All participants were then asked to be seated and to relax. Each participant then received one of the three tr eatment conditions. Those in th e imagery condition were read a set of directions, designed to emphasize an internal perspective with particular focus on the kinesthetic aspects of the task. Those in the instructional vide o condition were shown video footage of dart-throwing world ch ampion Paul Lim (Chesney Communications, 1997) in which he explained and demonstrated the proper dart-throw ing technique. They were asked to pay close attention to the tech niques that were used. Those in the control condition were given an essay about the hist ory of darts and asked to read it until the researcher came back into the room. Particip ants in all conditions were informed that their "practice" would last for 5 minutes. Finally, each participant was asked to repeat the dart-throwing task, again providing a total of 15 throws (3 sets of 5 throws). The mean radial error was determined and recorded. This was the post-test score. Part icipants were then debriefed and released.


13 Results An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) show ed that on the pre-test, there were no significant differences between the groups, F (2, 168) = .46, p > .05. I used an Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) to determine if th ere was any effect of the manipulation on post-test performance. The results of the ANC OVA showed that there was a significant difference between groups in the m ean radial error on the post-test, F (2, 167) = 4.46, p < .05, partial 2 = .051, after controlling for the signifi cant covariate of initial ability, as measured by a pre-test, F (1, 167) = 129.04, p < .05, partial 2 = .436. A Levene's test of equality of error variances showed that there was heterogeneity of variance, F (2, 168) = 6.33, p < .05. However, since violations of this assumption are unlikely to lead to a severely biased ANCOVA when all groups ar e of equal size (Meyers & Well, 1995), no corrections were needed. The observed power for the omnibus test was .76. Additionally, no participants performed sufficiently well or poorly to indicate that I should be concerned with ceiling or floor effects (mean radial error scores on the pre-test ranged from 7.67cm. to 41cm.). An analysis was done removing all outliers, and no change in the results occurred. Therefore, outlier s were included in the final analysis. Since comparisons between all conditi ons were planned in the case of a significant omnibus test, L east Significant Difference (LSD) follow-up tests were performed to find out which pairwise comp arisons were causing the significant omnibus test. Results showed that the estimated marginal mean radial error for the video condition ( M = 15.48, SE = .46) was significantly greater th an that of both the imagery condition ( M = 13.93, SE = .46) and the control condition ( M = 13.67, SE = .46), p < .05.


14 No significant difference was found between the control and imagery conditions, p > .05 (see figure 1). FIGURE 1 Effect of Mental Practi ce Type on Post-test Error 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 VideoControlImagery Mental Practice Type Post-test Error (cm) In addition to the primary analyses involving the experimental manipulation, I also thought it would be interesting to see how closely the partic ipants' self-report of ability mirrored their actual ability (as measur ed by the pre-test). The correlation between self-report of ability and mean radi al error on the pre-test was -.37, p < .05. This means that as self-rating of ability increased, error on the task decreased. Thus, although people's perceptions of their abilities are not totally dissociated from their actual performance, they are only m oderately predictive of such. An investigation into the relationship between skill level and condition and its effect on improvement (as measured by the diffe rence between pre and post test) was also


15 performed. A tertiary split was done on the pre-test data to form 3 levels of skill. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) showed significant main eff ects of initial ability level F (2, 162) = 5.54, p < .05 and mental practice condition, F (2, 162) = 3.60, p < .05, but did not show a significant interaction between skill level and condition, F (4, 162) = .623, p > .05. However, the observed power for this interaction was only .20. Figure 2 shows the improvement (difference in mean radial error from pre-test to post-test) for the condition x skill level analysis. When post-test score was used as the dependent variable (to avoid the high variance associated with difference scor es), a significant interaction was still not found, F (2, 162) = 1.54, p > .05. The observed power for the interaction in this analysis was only .47. FIGURE 2 -2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 Improvement (cm) VideoControlImagery Mental Practice Type Effect of Mental Practice Type and Pre-test Skill level on Improvement Low Medium High


16 An additional supplemental analysis show ed that men performed better (lower mean radial error) than women on the dart -throwing task during both the pre-test ( M = 12.17, SD = 2.95 vs. M = 15.89, SD = 4.00, respectively), and the post-test ( M = 10.80, SD = 2.40 vs. M = 15.48, SD = 4.72, respectively). A brief exploration into a possible Condition x Gender interaction effect (using pr e-test score as a c ovariate) on post-test performance was also performed. Gender wa s not included in the primary analysis because of its negative effect on statistic al power. When gender was included in the ANCOVA as a fixed independent variable, I fo und that a significant main effect of gender did exist F (1, 164) = 11.85, p < .05 (con sistent with the primar y analysis). Males, on average, decreased their mean radial error from 12.17cm to 10.80cm while women only decreased their error fr om 15.89cm to 15.48cm. However, the results of this ANCOVA showed no significant main effect of condition, F (2, 164) = .98, p > .05, and no significant interaction between gender and condition F (1, 164) = 2.45, p > .05 (see figure 3). These results may be due to the lack of observed power (.22 and .49, respectively) that was anticipated prior to the initial analysis. This point of view is supported by the fact that the in teraction was significant at the = .09 level.


17 FIGURE 3 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Improvement (cm) VideoControlImagery Mental Practice type Effect of Mental Practice Ty pe and Gender on Improvement Male Female


18 Discussion The results of this study were generally consistent with my expectations. I hypothesized that those people who were in the video condition c ould possibly have a decrease in performance. This was due to th e fact that watching the video would interfere with the normal mental warm-up techniques of highly skilled dart -throwers. I also believed that the instructional video would cause all participants to over-think what they were doing, causing them to perform poorly. These predictions were based on the fact th at participants only had 5 minutes to practice and thus were in a s ituation similar to someone w ith a performance preparation goal. If I were investigating the effects of these mental practice techniques under a skill learning/acquisition goal that is, if partic ipants had had considerably more time to practice, I would expect that the instructi onal video would actually be helpful to both novices and experts. Since the video woul d not be shown directly before task performance, I would not expect it to interfere with the nor mal mental warm-up of highly skilled participants. This would also likely lessen the decrement that is known to be associated with the over-thinking (McMaster, 1993). Additionally, if low-skilled people had time to incorporate the techniques from th e video into their mental representation of the task (as would be the case if we were using procedures to achieve a learning goal), they would likely improve. In addition to expecting that the video condition would lead to smaller gains in performance (if any) than other techniques, I also thought that the imagery condition might lead to improved performance, especia lly for highly skilled pa rticipants. According to the neuromuscular theory of mental prac tice, as a person participates in mental


19 imagery, they activate the procedural memories (not necessarily exp licit) for the stimuli and physiological responses associated with the activity they are imaging (Suinn, 1997). Since this imagery would lik ely facilitate mental warmup, I thought it reasonable to expect that imagery might improve perfor mance on the post-test in the present study. However, as mentioned earlier, the neuromus cular theory implies that a strong mental representation of the procedure is needed for any benefits to be experienced. I believe that I did not find improved performance fo r those in the imagery condition because novices, who did not have a strong mental representation of the proper techniques, constituted a large part of the sample. This is evidenced by the fact that the mean selfrating of dart-throwing ability within the sample was only 3.44 ( SD = 1.88) on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst dart-throw er in the world and 10 being the best dartthrower in the world) and that participants, on average, were 15 cm from the bull's-eye on each throw. I believe that this study is a good step toward a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the effects of mental prac tice. This study compared different mental practice techniques in singular form (not as part of a comprehensive program). It also looked at effectiveness in relation to only one goal (competition performance preparation), which is some thing that most prior res earch has not done (Rushall & Lippmann, 1998). Additionally, this study contro lled for initial ability when comparing these techniques, something else that is not always done in ment al practice research. Although I believe that controlling for initia l ability (using it as a covariate in an ANCOVA) was adequate in the present study, I th ink that in the future it may be a good idea to investigate how differentially skilled pa rticipants are affected by additional mental


20 practice techniques. As mentione d throughout this paper, there is reason to believe that highly skilled participants' performance w ould be affected diff erently by different techniques. Further experimental investiga tion of those differences seems warranted. Additionally, further investigation into the role that gende r plays in mental practice mechanisms also seems to be warranted. The present data suggests that males and females may react differently to mental pr actice. Males, on average, decreased their mean radial significantly more than women do. Also, a margin ally significan t interaction indicated that women seemed to get worse in the instructional vi deo condition, while men did not. Although I cannot speculate on the cau se, this appears to indicate some unique influence of gender on the effec tiveness of mental practice. I also believe that it would be wise to look at the degr ee to which different types of mental practice work for different tasks. While dart-throwing seems to be a physical task that can be almost entirely planned out, other physical tasks require the participant to react to ever changing stimuli (e.g., hitting a ba seball, trying to scor e a goal in soccer, etc.). It seems quite likely that mental pract ice that works for darts may not work for a sport that requires quick th inking and reaction. I think th is emphasizes the need to examine specific mental practice types in spec ific contexts. And not only do we need to look at the effects for different physical task s, we also ought to l ook at the effects of mental practice duration and proximity to pe rformance on skill enhancement. Transfer of mental training skills from one sport to a nother can also be examined, along with the effects of feedback and relaxation in combin ation with traditional mental practice. In short, there are many directions in which re search into mental practice can go in the future. The current study is one step on which to build future research.


21 References Annett, J. (1995) Motor imagery: Perception or action? Neuropsychologia, 33 (11), 13951417. Bandura, A. (1986) Social foundations of thought and acti on: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Barabasz, A., Barabasz, M., & Bauman, J. ( 1993). Restricted environmental stimulation technique improves human performance: Rifle marksmanship. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76, 867-873. Butler, R. (1996). Sport Psychology in Action. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd. Decety, J., & Ingvar, D.H. (1990). Brain structur es participating in mental simulation of motor behavior: A neuropsychological interpretation. Acta Psychologica, 73, 1334. Decety, J., Jeannerod, M., Germain, M., & Past ene, J. (1991). Vegetative response during imagined movement is propor tional to mental effort. Behavioural Brain Research, 42, 1-5. Defrancesco, C., & Burke, K. (1997). Performance enhancement strategies used in a professional tennis tournament. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28, 185-195. Fery, Y., & Morizot, P. (2000). Kinesthetic and visual image in modeling closed motor skills: The example of the tennis serve. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 90, 707-722. Goodwin, J., Grimes, C., Eckerson, J., & Gordon, P. (1998). Effect of different quantities of variable practice on acquisition, reten tion, and transfer of an applied motor skill. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 87, 147-151.


22 Gould, D., & Damarjian, N. (1996). Imagery trai ning for peak performance. In J. L. Van Raalte, & B. W. Brewer (Ed.), Exploring Sport and Exercise Psychology (pp. 2550). Washington DC: American Psychological Association. Grouios, G. (1992). Mental practice: A review. Journal of Sport Behavior, 15(1), 42-59. Hardy, L., & Callow, N. (1999). Efficacy of external and internal visual imagery perspectives for the enha ncement of performance on tasks in which form is important. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 21, 95-112. Hird, J., Landers, D., Thomas, J., Horan, J. (1991 ). Physical practice is superior to mental practice in enhancing cognitive and motor task performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 8, 281-293. Jeannerod, M. (1995). Mental im agery in the motor context. Neuropsychologia, 33 (11), 1419-1432. Jowdy, D., & Harris, D. (1990). Muscular resp onses during mental imagery as a function of motor skill level. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 12, 191-201. Kim, J., & Tennant, K. (1993). Effects of vi sualization and danje on breathing on target shooting with an air pistol. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 77, 1083-1087. Liggett, D. & Hamada, S. (1993). Enhanc ing the visualization of gymnasts. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 35 (3), 190-197. Chesney Communications (Producer) (1997). Darts, With Paul Lim [Motion Picture]. (Available from Chesney Communications 2302 Martin, Suite 125, Irvine, CA 92612)


23 Li-Wei, Z., Qi-Wei, M., Orlick, T., Zitzelsb erger, L. (1992). The effect of mentalimagery training on performance enhan cement with 7-10-year-old children. The Sport Psychologist, 6, 230-241. McMaster, N. (1993). Behavior modification with hypnotic visu alisation, the mental side of golf: A case history. The Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis, 14 (1), 17-22. Millard, M., Mahoney, C., Wardrop, J. (2001) A preliminary study of mental and physical practice on the kayak wet exit skill. Perceptual and Mo tor Skills, 92, 977-984. Murphy, S. (1994). Imagery interventions in sport. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 26 (4), 484-494. Meyers, J.L., & Well, A.D. (1995). Research Design & Statistical Analysis. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Robazza, C., & Bortoli, L. (1998). Mental preparation strategies of Olympic archers during competition: an e xploratory investigation. High Ability Studies, 9, 219235. Roure, R., Collet, C., Deschaumes-Molinar o, C., Delhomme, G., Dittmar, A., & VernetMaury, E. (1999). Imagery quality estimat ed by autonomic response is correlated to sporting performance enhancement. Physiology and Behavior, 66, 63-72. Rushall, B., & Lippmann, L. (1998). The role of imagery in physical performance. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 29, 57-72. Straub, W. (1989). The effect of three diffe rent methods of mental training on dart throwing performance. The Sport Psychologist, 3, 133-141.


24 Suinn, R. (1996). Imagery rehearsal: A tool for clinical practice. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 15 (3), 27-31. Suinn, R. (1997). Mental practice in sport ps ychology: where have we been, where do we go? Clinical Psychology: Scie nce and Practice, 4(3), 189-207. Vealy, R., & Walter, S. (1993). Imagery tr aining for performance enhancement and personal development. In J. M. Williams (Ed.), Applied Sport Psychology (pp. 200-221). Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company.


25 Appendices


26 Appendix 1 Mental Practice Instructions: Please take a seat and get relaxed. For th e next 5 minutes I would like you to close your eyes and imagine yourself throwing darts at the dartboard. With each throw, I would like you to imagine the dart hitt ing directly in the center of the bull's-eye. Try and make the imaginary experience as real as possible. Try and feel the dart between your fingers, try and feel the muscles working in such a way that you make a perfect dart throw. See the dart leave your hand, travel through the air, a nd hit the center of the bull's-eye. Do you have any questions? (Answer any questions they may have.) OK, please begin; I will let you know when 5 minutes has elapsed. Control Condition Instructions: Please take a seat and get relaxed. For th e next 5 minutes I would like you to read this article about darts. Take your time; you will have 5 minutes to read it. If you finish it, please start at the beginning and read it ag ain. Do you have any questions? (Answer any questions they may have.) OK, please begi n; I will let you know when 5 minutes has elapsed. *Note: no participants finish ed reading the entire article Instructional Vide o Instructions: Please take a seat and get relaxed. For the next 5 minutes you will be watching a clip from an instructional dart-throwing vi deo. I will stop the tape after 5 minutes. Do you have any questions? (Answer any questions th ey may have.) OK, let's begin (start the tape); I will let you know when 5 minutes has elapsed.


27 Appendix 2 Description of instructional video The five-minute segment of the instruc tional video used in the current study featured world champion dart-thrower Paul Lim. During the segment, Mr. Lim physically demonstrated the proper technique for accurate ly throwing darts. At the same time, he also gave verbal instructions to the viewer aimed at clarifying wh at techniques should be used. He focused on describing the proper st ance, grip, arm and shoulder position, and throwing motion.


28 Appendix 3 The Development and Organization of the Sport of Darts (from: 1/25/04) The sport of darts is unique in several ways: the equipment required to play is reasonably inexpensive, a relatively small amount of space is required to play, and special clothing is not required. Age, gender, size and physical strength/endura nce have almost no effect on a player's ability to do well. These factor s combine to make darts the appealing and popular game it is today. The game of darts is hundreds of years old...rumor has it that the sport originally began as a contest between bored warriors during resp ites from battle. The soldiers hurled short throwing spears into the upturne d ends of wine barrels. As their competition progressed, a more critically marked target became necessary, which led to the use of a slice of a tree as a target. The natural rings of the tree proved perfect fo r scoring purposes, as did the radial cracks which appeared as the wood drie d out. The winter forced the sport indoors, and shorter darts and basic i ndoor rules were adopted. As the game caught on, even the nobility tried their hand: in 1530 Anne Bole yn gave Henry VIII a set of "dartes of Biscayan fashion, richly ornamented," and ev en our Pilgrim fathers are said to have played darts on the Mayflower (1620), using the butt of a wine cas k as a "board". The game retained its military affiliations through to the establishment of the British Empire, when soldiers' drinking clubs with their built-in dartboard s stretched over the whole of the Empire. Locals in many countries adopted the sport, but the British players remained dominant until very recently. The dart itself became more or less standardized as the practice of throwing "missiles" at targets became a general pastime -the barr el was typically a piece of wood about 4 inches long with a metal point stuck in one end and feathers on the other. An American patented a folded-paper fli ght in 1898, and the all-metal barrel was patented by an Englishman in 1906. Also around this time, the numbering system on the dartboard was devised and gained acceptance. The standardization of the throwing distan ce took place around the same time, although there is still more than one "standard" in us e. It is said that the throwing distance was marked by placing three crates end to end from a brewery called Hockey & Sons (which supplied beer to the Southwest of England). The crates were three feet long, making the distance from the line to the board nine feet The size of the Hockey & Sons crates was eventually reduced to two feet, and four crates lined up to mark the distance (eight feet). The 8-foot distance remained the standard fo r many years -and still exists in some places. The phrase "toeing the hockey" is said to have been brought about by the use of the Hockey & Sons crates, and the to e line is still call ed the "hockey", thoug h it is more often spelled oche, and is pron ounced without the "h".


29 Appendix 3 (Continued) The Development of Organized Darts In 1908 a decision was made by the Magistrate s in Leeds, England which effectively ensured the eventual popularity of darts as a sport. At that time, "games of chance" were illegal in public houses (pubs). A pub ow ner called "Foot" Anakin was accused of operating a game of chance and prosecuted for allowing darts at his establishment. Foot argued that darts was not a game of chance, and obtained perm ission for a board to be set up in the courtroom. It is said that Anakin threw three darts in the 20 and invited any magistrate to do the same. The challenge was accepted, however the court officials were unable to duplicate Foot's shot, thus proving darts was indeed a game of skill and not of chance; the case was dismissed. The years afte rward saw the progression of the game in British public houses; by World War II the majority of pubs had dartboards, and teams and matches with other pubs were arranged on a regular basis. The first major step towards making darts th e international game it is today occurred when The News of the World, a British Sunda y newspaper, instituted its championship in 1927. Originally confined to the London area, the event nevertheless drew large numbers of participants, and due to its success becam e a national competiti on after World War I. This event grew into one of the most presti gious and sought-after in ternational titles in the sport, but was suspended in 1990. It returned in 1997, but is now restricted to players in the UK. Major credit for promotion of the game goes to The News of the World and also to the National Darts Association of Great Br itain (NDA), formed in 1954, for their contributions in creating both an internationa l forum for the sport, and establishing basic acceptable rules of play. The NDA drew together various county and London groupings, and began holding English national competitions in 1957. The British Darts Organisation (BDO) was formed in 1973 by Olly Croft, and coordina ted the strengths of the various county associations and the development of various county championships, with the organization of international events following soon after. The BDO's primary focus at that time was acquiring sponsors and running special events for television. In 1978 the BDO organized the Embassy World Professional Championships -one of the biggest events in darts. In 1976 the BDO was a major force in setti ng up the World Darts Federation (WDF), which was formed by representatives from 15 countries to govern and promote the sport of darts on an international basis. Among the first decisions of the WDF were the recommendation of a standard th rowing distance for all countries, and the inauguration of the World Cup, an internati onal event held ev ery two years since 1977 in which top players compete for their respective count ries. Today the WDF is comprised of the national darts organizing body from each of 49 member countries, representing six continents. Other tournaments have been establis hed (also on a bi-annual basis) to further


30 Appendix 3 (Continued) promote the sport: The Asia Cup, open to WDF member nations in Asia The Europe Cup, open to European nations The Pacific Cup, open to Pacific Rim nations (which includes the US) The WDF maintains an individua l ranking system for members based on participation in more than 30 regional, national, and world ev ents staged by the organization itself and its member organizations. The American Darts Organization was fo rmed in 1976 under the guidance of Tom Fleetwood, and is the only govern ing body of darts in the United States recognized by the WDF (1977). The Organization was chartered with 30 local member clubs, representing approximately 7,500 players. Today, more th an 300 associations, representing some 75,000 players in all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico, are affiliated with the ADO. The ADO is a "grassroots" organization, meaning th at every player has the opportunity to compete to represent the US through the ADO Playoff Program. Local winners advance to the Regional level, and Regional winners advance to National competition. National winners comprise the ADO Pacific Cup, All-St ar and World Masters teams. Almost 300 tournaments a year are sanctioned by the ADO. Players earn Championship Points by placing in singles events at these tourna ments, and the ADO keeps a national ranking system based on these point totals, as well as naming a Men's and Ladies' National Champion at the end of each year.


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