Fortunately, it was quite a simple task to find a research topic related to the material that we have covered so far in sport psychology. After some quick searching, we ran across a rather interesting article written in the International Journal of Sport Psychology that could obviously be useful. Conveniently, it was in the most recent issue of this particular journal available in the Evansdale Library.
Entitled, Psychosocial Characteristics of Olympic Track and Field Athletes, this article happened to be one that we could easily relate too. Because both of us are runners, we share a definite commonality with the subjects of the study. This is true, even though neither of us will actually make it to the Olympics to perform at the subjects’ standards. At least, though, it is possible to relate highly to these interesting people.
Basically, the purpose of this particular study was to identify the specific personality characteristics of 15 Olympic caliber track and field athletes. Certainly, several people, especially sport psychologists, would like to know if there are specific attitudes and personalities that belong to the topnotch athletes of the world. Pretty simple request, right? Or at least it sounds that way.
To perform this experiment, each of the athletes was asked six standardized questions. For instance, one of the questions focused directly on the subject of How do you prepare for a competition. The athletes responses to these questions were recorded word for word and analyzed for content.
Interestingly enough, typical themes could be found throughout their responses. For example, some of the athletes would mention that a higher power was some how related to everything that they have done. The people performing this study would relate this to the category of spiritual/ religious factors. Also, a couple of the runners claimed that their lives were completely based on the theme of mental skills and attitudes such as hard work and perseverance. It was very easy to notice that these themes appeared time after time, for each question answered by the same person. The researchers concluded that these emerging themes play an important role in the psychological development of each athlete.
While it isnt a direct correlation, the work these researchers have done could be somewhat related to developments in psychological skills training. Ideally, sports psychologists should know exactly what effects the attitudes of an athlete. If some areas of psychological development are more improved in an Olympic athlete, we could discover why, and possibly use exercises to better another persons mental state if they are lacking in a similar area. By investigating the way each of these athletes responds to the standardized questions, we may be able to find methods to strengthen the mental attitudes of the average athlete.