Evaluation of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE): A New Approach to Promote Flow in Athletes #1 Abstract The construct of mindfulness appears to be compatible with theories of flow and peak performance in sport. The present study assessed how Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), a new 4-week program, affected flow states, performance, and psychological characteristics of 11 archers and 21 golfers from the community. Participants completed trait measures of anxiety, perfectionism, thought disruption, confidence, mindfulness, and flow.
They additionally provided data on their performances and state levels of mindfulness and flow. Analyses revealed that some significant changes in dimensions of the trait variables occurred during the training. Levels of state flow attained by the athletes also increased between the first and final sessions. The findings suggest that MSPE is a promising intervention to enhance flow, mindfulness, and aspects of sport confidence. An expanded workshop to allot more time for mindfulness practice is recommended for future studies. 2
Purpose The purpose of this articles is to contact a study on how a new mental training approach, Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), as well as athletic performance and the psychological factors thought to influence it. Two different sports were chosen for this study and they were archery and golf. They chose these two sports because athletes involved in self-paced, closed-skill, objectively scored sports were thought to benefit most from MSPE. Both archers and golfers agreed to participate in a 4-week mental training workshop in mindfulness meditation designed to improve performance. 3
Research Questions and Hypotheses Research by Kaufman and Glass and Arnkoff state that self- paced, closed-skill, objectively scored sports requiring a high degree of mental focus and fine motor movement would allow for an optimal analysis of the efficacy of MSPE. (Kaufman, Glass, Arnkoff 2009). #4 Methods The participants used for the study were a total of 32 recreational athletes in the Washington, DC are. 11 of the participants were archers and 21 were golfers. In addition, 23 of the participants were men and 9 of the participants were women.
The participants were predominantly Caucasian, but also included one African American, one Asian/Pacific Islander, and one Hispanic/Latino. The participants ages ranged from 18 to 76. The following instruments were used on the participants: Background Questionnaire, a 12-item measure that had two different version, one for archers and one for golfers. Sample questions ranged from their gender and age to any sport psychological or meditation experiences they have had. Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS), a 21-item self-report measure of cognitive and somatic trait sport anxiety, with each item rated 1-4, 1 being not at all and 4 being very much so.
Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS), has 35 items and each question is rated on a scale of 1-5, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. Carolina Sport Confidence Inventory (CSCI), a 13-item self-report instrument designed to assess sport confidence. Thought Occurrence Questionnaire for Sport (TOQS), contains 17 items and assess the cognitive interference or thought disruption that athletes experience during competition. Each item is rated 1-7, 1 being almost never and 7 being very often.
Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS), a 39 question assessment designed to assess the tendency to be mindful in daily life, with 1 being never or very rarely true to 5 being very often or always true. Dispositional Flow Scale-2 (DFS-2), a 36 item measure of tendency to experience flow during physical activity ranked 1-5, with 1 being never to 5 being always. Credibility and Expectations Measure (CEM), developed for the study to assess the perceived credibility of the workshop and expectations of performance improvement following the training.
Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS), assesses state levels of mindfulness immediately following the practice of a mindfulness exercise. Daily Mindfulness Log, a daily log for the participants to take home and keep a daily account of whether they practiced mindfulness skills, length, and observations. Daily Sport Performance Log, a log that participants record their data on their sport performance that occurs between workshop sessions. Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2), designed to assess flow experiences during completed physical activity, identical to DFS-2.
Exit Questionnaire (EXT), a 14-item questionnaire that asks participants to record their reactions to and experiences during the workshop. The first 8 items are similar to the CEM and the last 6 are open-ended questions about what the participants thought and felt during the workshop. There were some limitations to this study that future research on MSPE should address. These limitations include recruitment and scheduling by not allowing some of the participants to make the workshop. This effected the control groups and the results that changed over the course compared to what changes were caused by it.
The small group of participants (32) and failure to incomplete the homework assignments contributed to to the initial predictions not being supported. The diversity of ethnicity and age group of the participants was not diverse enough to cover all archers and golfers, so that does not cover the whole population. Finally, 4 weeks was too short of a time period to record the changes observed and recorded by the participants, which altered the predictions made at the start. Based on these limitations, I do not agree with the time amount, the number of the participants, and the age groups.
If I were to conduct a case study, I would at least make the time frame 3 months to make sure that the participants reached full enhancement to the predictions made. The age group would be ranging from 18-50, a good range for the archers or golfers on the rise, at their prime, or near their retirement of their performances. I would conduct the study to be at least 100 people, a good number that isn’t too much or too less. This would help out the few that don’t participate each workshop and can control the group more than a group of 32 missing a 4 week session. 5
Results and Major Conclusions Independent sample tests were given to determine if the golfers differed from the archers in age, number of years playing their sport of concentration, and frequency of meditation per week. Along with that, they were tested on measures of anxiety, perfectionism, confidence, thought disruption, mindfulness, and flow before attending the MSPE workshop. There were no significant differences between the two groups at preregistration and gender or ethnicity. During the 4-week workshop there were significant changes that occurred between the two groups.
The archers mindfulness, dispositional optimism, and parental expectations all increased. The golfers did improve in some traits, but not as drastically as the archers. Their ability to describe observed phenomena increased from pre workshop to post workshop. The examination of how archery performance changed during the workshop was not possible due to the uncontrollable factors day in and day out. These factors include the type of archery, the number of arrows shot, the target distance, and the target size.
The golfer’s performances were computed on a mean 18-hole score for the participants each week. The repeated-measures were not significant, only 3 golfers reported at least one score for all 4 weeks of the workshop. The general level of satisfaction of the archers and the golfers with their sport performance after the workshop was significantly higher than at the beginning. The results that MSPE had on these athletes and how they affected their sport performance were classified as indicating improved focus. I do have to agree with these results on numerous reasons.
One thing that should someone should expect with attending a workshop to improve something, I do expect the participant to gain knowledge out of the workshop. The archers gained more out of the workshop than the golfers, but they both did perform on traits that they did not have before. I would have liked to see more participation from the golfers, knowing that only 3 completed a score for all four weeks. The results were not what the researchers were looking for, but they can’t do much with such a small group of participants. 6
Conclusion If there was one thing I would relate both the archers and golfers psychological thinking to, it would be imagery. Imagery is experiencing events and skills in one’s mind by recreating past experiences and creating new experiences. One thing that the archers improved on was their overall state of mindfulness and the curiosity component of mindfulness. Linking those traits to imagery means that the archer has developed an improved concentration on appropriate cues.
They have learned that being able to see the target and focus on all of the surrounding sights and sounds plays a big role on their performance because they need to be fully concentrated. Just like archery, in golf they need to have the same mindset. The results show that golfers experienced a significant increase in overall trait mindfulness. They need to visualize how far the hole is away from the tee, they need to have complete concentration in order to determine how hard they need to hit the ball.
They also need to take into any other factor that they can’t control such as noises from the crowd, the weather, and their emotions for the day. Typically in golf, the crowd is silent until after the golfer hits the ball, but other noises that affect them are ones in nature, ones they cannot control. If both archers and golfers practice imagery in their every day routine, then they will have the right mindset to concentrate and perform well. Another concept that we have learned in class that can tie to both archery and golf is goal setting.
Before enrolling in the workshop, both sports had intentions on walking out with skills and knowledge that neither of them had before. With incentive to get better at the sport they love, they set goals in order to achieve what they wanted. For those who did not participate on a weekly basis like the others, they did not set high enough, realistic, or attainable goals. The results show that archery and golf both had significant changes post workshop compared to pre workshop. Not all goals need to be large, but setting goals and keeping track of them is a sure way to succeed.
No matter if it is sports or every day life, one must be confident in everything they do. Archers have to be confident they each time they shoot an arrow, they will hit the target, whether it be the bullseye or anything around it. In golf, each golfer needs to be confident that they can make par, if not under. During the workshop, the archers and golfers had confidence that they could set goals and achieve what they needed to improve. For those that had confidence stuck with the workshop and for those that didn’t have enough confidence were not able to succeed the workshop.