Athletic Performance Enhancement in High School Basketball

The major focus of this study is to explore the athletic performance enhancement in high school basketball. The study disclosed athletic performance enhancement skills such as team building, pressure control, mental imagery and self talk practice. The study also covered the roles played by motivation, anxiety coping and relaxation, goal setting and self confidence building. Motivation enables the athletes to thrive even in difficult conditions. Anxiety coping and relaxation enables the team to reflect on their previous performance and strategise on the way forward. Goal setting keeps the athlete on track. Self confidence building facilitates the team to move on even in difficult circumstances.

1.0 Introduction
Great athletes constantly possess certain merits that contribute to their success. Skill is not enough. Discipline, enthusiasm, self-assurance and competitiveness are just a few of these qualities. The ability to set goals is a skill that vastly enhances an athletes sport performance as well as provides an action plan for rehabilitation that includes short-term, intermediate and long term goals (OConnor, 2001).

By building and maintaining a certain level of self confidence participating athletes are able to stay focussed on the outcome goal and concentrate on achieving their process goals to get there. Using mental imagery can also help athletes achieve their goals by visualising success. Through this performance enhancement program, any athlete learns and is able to use these skills to overcome any obstacles. Setting goals, building and maintaining self confidence and using imagery are beneficial in any aspect of life (Armantas et al. 2007).

The coach must address the teams needs. This requires the coach to honestly assess the teams previous performance, predict how the team should do during the current season with the current roster, and make a decision on how to uplift the performance of the team. This assessment is an on going process through the preseason. Most coaches develop strategies for team building and assessing team needs. However, if the normal strategies for the team are not working or if a coach wishes to learn new plans and strategies for team building and needs evaluation, consultation with a sport psychologist may be supportive. Coaches must effectively add new athletes and sometimes new coaching staff to their team so that the team functions as unified fashion. If the team did not meet expectations, new ideas and new traditions are introduced (Performance Enhancement News, 2006).

2.0 Performance Enhancement Curriculum
2.1 Motivation
Motivation is one of the methods that enhance performance of the players. Motivation uses imagery. Vealey and Greenleaf (2001) defined imagery as the process of using all senses to create or to re-create all experience in the mind. Athletes use imagery to uplift both physical and mental skills. For physical skills, imagery can help an athlete to learn new skills, practice already developed skills, and solve problems with technique. Imagery is one of several mental tools used to help injured athletes return to play. Specific uses of imagery in the recovery process include pain management, stress reduction, and managing the fear of re-injury (Williams and Krane, 2001).

2.2 Building team cohesion is an important factor in team performance
According to Stewart (2005), team cohesion is important because it is a determinant of their performance. Thus, it is common to find that deeply cohesive basketball teams perform better that fragmented ones all other factors remaining constant. Teams that lack cohesion will portray some characteristics like disruptions in the training schedules, conflicts during the games and interpersonal disconnect. Ultimately, team cohesions are all about the cooperation that the team members acculturate amongst themselves (Carron  Brawley, 2000). This has implications that teams members must be attracted to one another at the sports level, must view each other from a positive note and must committed towards the success of the team.

Therefore, its is prudent to assert that cohesion is a means of enhancing better performance, which means that any person interested in investigating a basketball teams dwindling performance must have cohesion as one of the major points of concern. Past studies did not consider cohesion as a major influencer of performance until recently (Carron  Brawley, 2000). From a qualitative observation, team cohesion also provides a motivation for the members to stay in touch while new members also get attracted to join (Stewart, 2005).

Having noted the importance of team cohesion towards enhancing the performance, there are few steps that need follow up. First, team cohesions will rely on how frequent the members form and meet. This ensures that they can cooperate and achieve various mileages towards the teams success (Stewart, 2005). Second, the size of the team matters. In the case of a basketball team, this may not be a very major challenge because of the lean structures and definitions on and off the court (Stewart, 2005). Third, the experience of the team cohesion is also a determinant of their performance. Hence, experience of good cohesion leads to perpetuation of the same especially with the new team members.

2.3 Creating goals as an important factor in improving team performance
Goals provide an action plan for team performance enhancement (Chiswick Consulting Limited, 2010). An action plan includes specific goals written on how the team is going to reach the desired physical state. This allows the team to track progress throughout practice sessions and helps the team to adjust goals if they become too difficult to reach (Performance Management Company, 2009). The first step in developing the teams action plan is deciding what the teams outcome goal is going to be. A process goal is an intermediate goal to help get the team a little closer to its desired outcome. A clear path of short-term goals that aid in reaching the teams long-term goals is established. The team should be careful to avoid setting too many goals too soon (Performance Management Company, 2009). The SMART principle is used Specific goals are set. Goals that can be measured are set. Goals are adjusted when necessary. Moderately difficult, but Realistic goals are set. Goals that are attainable in a reasonable amount of Time are set (Peluso, 2000).

The team should write four to five specific process goals about how to reach the outcome goal. The team should keep in mind that the goals would help the team players reach their outcome goals within its desired time frame (Chiswick Consulting Limited, 2010). Goals should be challenging but realistic. Goals that are too difficult or unrealistic may frustrate and lead to depression and if self-assurance and enthusiasm decrease, progress can slow (Performance Management Company, 2009). A common problem is failing to amend goals when necessary. Competing team should accept the possibility of failure and be willing to adjust its goals when required (Peluso, 2000).

The teams should spot two roadblocks that the teams may encounter on the way to achieving any of their progress goals in performance. These can be anything that may interfere with reaching the athletes outcome goal. The teams should reflect about things the athletes can focus on everyday to help them stay committed. The teams should make a list of three specific things the athletes can do or focus on everyday to help the athletes be on track of reaching their outcome goal. The teams should write their goals down in a place where the athletes can see them every single day. When the teams reach a plateau or hit a roadblock, they should look at their goals and focus on how to overcome the obstacles (Peluso, 2000).

2.3 Anxiety coping and relaxation
As with all sports, playing basketball well requires a combination of physical and mental skills. The mental skills used depend upon the game situation. For example, athletes use concentration skills to keep themselves focussed in the game and during time outs and time on the bench. Attentiveness skills can also be used to maintain focus in spite of the distractions like the crowd and the opposing players. Other mental skill used is administering emotions and staying in control, even in the face of a bad call by a referee. Develop free throw pre-short customs, which can increase the success rate of foul shots and concentrating on the present and not worrying about past mistakes or thinking too far a head (Staples, 2010).

Developing the mental skills necessary to play well happens in the same way that physical skills are developed through many hours of practice under the guidance of either a sport psychologist or a coach who has been trained in sport psychology principles. As an illustration of the importance of mental skills in basketball, is to think about the free throw pre-shot routine of Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Imagine what impact his routine had on his free throw success. As it is known, many games are won or lost at free throw line (Estes, 2009).

Coaches manage stress by sticking to routine, eating healthy and staying in shape. Adoption of more active stress management strategies will ideally help coaches to remain healthier and to continue coaching for so many years. Coaches are important real models for their athletes. Most coaches understand this but they do not make the connection that how coaches manage stress frequently translates how their athletes manage stress. Like any type of performing, becoming an effective basketball coach takes hard work, lots of preparation and effort. Coaches must have the ability to manage pressure in adverse situations efficiently and ability to lead others. Learning to manage pressure of coaching, not only allow coaches to continue doing their job, but also stay healthier. Learning how to manage pressure, allow the coaches to model handling pressure in a healthy and productive fashion for their athletes (Performance Enhancement News, 2010).

2.4 Self confidence building
An athlete with a high level of self-assurance can stay composed and focused, triumph over impediments, quickly learn from, and correct mistakes. The most important way for an athlete to sustain and build their self-confidence is to focus on performance accomplishments. As an athlete using physical therapy to rehabilitate an injury, it is vital that the athlete self-confidence is maintained and even built upon. Mamassis and Doganis (2004) reported increased performance and self-confidence with lowered pre-competition anxiety when compared to controlled conditions. Self-confidence building enables the athlete to reach full potential.

For instance, a basketball player on a fast break or a soccer player dribbling in the open field, find open teammates, be aware of oncoming opponents, and make a decision to pass, shot, or hold onto the ball all within a matter of seconds. The possible presence of fatigue, environmental stimuli, and performance anxiety may also contribute to an athletes loss of concentration, focus, and in ability to think properly. The athlete needs to have self-talk practice to build self-confidence (Theodorakis et al., 2001).

3.0 Increasing team confidence through imagery and preparation as a key factor in improving team performance

Imagery is a mental representation of movement. It involves athletes imagining themselves in a specific environment or performing a specific activity, rehearsing with the goal of improving motor performance. In this process, a participating athlete uses a creation or re-creation of an experience using all senses (Dickstein  Deutsch, 2007). Most participating athletes who compete at high levels employ a cognitive process. It is a tool used to help athletes cope with and prevail over injuries and allows them to re-enter their sport mentally prepared for success.

Two types of imagery are important for participating athletes to focus on. These are external (visual) and internal (kinaesthetic) imagery. External imagery is imagery of the person, the environment or both. First-person and third-person perspectives can be used in external imagery. First person viewpoint (kinaesthetic or visual) is the persons sight of the images contents or its kinaesthetic sensations (Dickstein  Deutsch, 2007). Third-person viewpoint involves the visual imagery of scenes outside the person. For example, with external imagery, a person views himself as if he were an external observer with internal imagery, a person actually imagines being inside hisher body experiencing the same sensations as they did the first time. The methods they engaged for controlling pain incorporated using imagery to deal with expected pain, disperse andor block pain and as a distraction (Driediger, et al. 2006).

Metal imagery and self-talk strategies were implemented by athletes in order to regulate arousal, decrease maladaptive behaviours, reconstruct negative thoughts, and to uplift ones attention and focus. Mental imagery incorporates ones visual, auditory, tactile, emotional and kinaesthetic senses. Visual motor behavioural rehearsal integrates the senses, which ultimately leads to increased awareness and performance enhancement. In contrast, cognitive theorists stress the importance of symbolic learning theory to mental imagery construction. This process driven model advocates the significance of how one learns a task rather than how one initiates specific motor skills. Athletes that implemented imagery practice on cognitive tasks had increased performance as opposed to purely motoric tasks. Many athletes felt that acquiring a mental edge on their opponents ultimately gave them an invaluable advantage during competition (Peluso, et al. 2005).

Regardless of what type of sport or athlete one is examining, an absence of a theory-based framework will continue to limit researchers understandings of the overall strengths and weaknesses of self-talk interventions (Hardy et al., 2001). Self-talk enhances an athlete to perform better in the sport. Furthermore, Hatzigeorgiadis et al. (2004) revealed that athletes who implemented various forms of self-talk such as instructional, motivational, increased overall performance and decreased vulnerability to maladaptive and competing thoughts, on a water-polo task, when compared to baseline scores. These findings suggest that athletes who incorporate self-talk imagery strategies will ultimately benefit from increased levels of awareness, concentration, and performance enhancement.

4.0 Results and discussions
4.1 Results
The majority of participants reported playing organized athletics were high school, 88, college, 19.3, intramurals, 53.3 and a minority of the overall population reported playing organized basketball were high school, 4.7,college 1, and intramurals, 2. A series of Pearsons correlations examined the relationship between participants overall time spent playing regulation P.G.A. and miniature basketball and overall difference scores. Results indicated a significant relationship between P.G.A. basketball experience and overall difference scores across all conditions r  0.172 p  0.05. Follow-up analyses suggested that of the 68 of the participants who selected other on the demographic questionnaire, approximately 87 reported never playing basketball. In addition, results indicated no significant relationship between miniature basketball experience and overall difference scores r  0.044 p  0.05 across conditions (Peluso, et al. 2005).

A series of ANOVAs were conducted across all nine conditions comparing pretest putting abilities. Results indicated that no significant differences were seen across all conditions across pre-test putting trials. Therefore suggesting that participants overall putting abilities were commensurate F (8, 141)  5.779, p  0.05. A 9 x 2 repeated measures ANOVA was conducted across all nine conditions comparing overall outcome performance between participants pretest and posttest trial scores. Results indicated no significant differences across conditions and between trials existed, F (8, 141)  1.916, p  0.05 (Pennington, 2008).

In contrast, a follow-up ANOVA indicated a significant interaction across conditions between participants overall divergence score across pretest and post test trials, F (8, 141)  4.009, p  0.05. Follow up paired comparisons on overall difference scores indicated improved putting performance across seven of the eight Performance Enhancement Techniques experimental conditions. Specifically, participants in the simultaneous internal imagery condition exhibited the largest difference score, Cohens d  0.7359, p0.05. In addition, results indicated a negative decline in performance across overall differences scores for participants in the delayed external imagery and no instruction control group (please refer to Table 1 and Table 2). Overall, across conditions results indicated that participants significantly benefited from implementing internalized forms of Performance Enhancement Techniques when compared to externalized forms of Performance Enhancement Techniques and the no instruction control conditions F (2, 147)  7.009, p 0.05 (Bracken  Nicole, 2008).

Given the high degree of variability regarding the number of hours of organized athletic activity participants reported, a series of one-way ANOVAs comparing performance across conditions was conducted. Results indicated that participants who endorsed ten hours or less a week of athletic activity preferred self talk interventions over the imagery and the no instruction control condition F (2, 119) 4.389, p  0.05. In contrast, participants who endorsed ten hours or more a week of athletic activity preferred imagery strategies to self-talk and the no instruction control condition F (2, 25)  5.27, p  0.05 (Dorchak, 2008).

More over, no significant differences were found between participants in both the ten hour or more and ten hour and less condition when assessing for preferences styles between internalized, externalized, simultaneous, and delayed conditions. These findings are consistent with the current literature which states that novice athletes will often engage in self-talk practice for athletic skill mastery whereas more experienced athletes will implement imagery techniques as an arousal regulation andor motivational technique (Cox, 2002). Finally, a paired comparison was conducted to determine the effect of participants self-efficacy on the golf putting task between ones predicted putting accuracy score and their actual putting accuracy score. Results suggest that participants across all conditions were able to accurately predict their actual putting score t(149)  -17.24, p  0.05.

4.2 Discussion
Athletic performance in sports can be enhanced in very many ways. Motivation is the drive towards success. A motivated athlete is a successful sportsperson. Athletes are stirred by successful practice where tactics are ever changed. When new skills are introduced into the sport, athletes become eager to learn. Athletes are also stimulated by good pay and teamwork. Successful in performance is an appealing factor. When a team wins, the athletes become happy and thrive to continue winning.
Goal setting is an important strategy that enables athletes to succeed by building their physical skills. Objective setting lays a plan that enables athletes to stay focussed. Training mile stones serve as guiding criteria for the success of an athlete. This allows the team to track progress throughout practice sessions and helps the team to adjust goals if they become too difficult to reach. The physical state of the athletes is the desired goal. Physiotherapy is done on the players who are injured to ensure their full recovery to the physical state of playing or participating in the sport. Once discipline is kept by athletes during training and competition, success in guaranteed.

Anxiety coping and relaxation is another mode of athletic performance enhancement. The coach and players are supposed to feed on good diet and put in place traits that allow athletes to control stress when playing under pressure. Good sport psychology coaching is encouraged to enhance good performance. Athletes should have time to relax after intensive successful exercise. Formerly the athletes are able to control anxiety, their performance in sport raises. An athlete with a high level of self-assurance can stay poised and focused, triumph over impediments, quickly learn from, and correct blunders. The most important way for an athlete to sustain and build their self-confidence is to focus on performance accomplishments.

Athletic performance enhancement is an importance factor in any sport. Mental imagery and self-talk strategies are implemented by athletes in to regulate stimulation, reduce maladaptive behaviours, rebuild negative thoughts, and to boost ones concentration and focus. Participants who engage in several performances enhancement techniques exhibit enhanced performance on a sport-putting task when compared to participants in a controlled condition.

Participants who allowed limited athletic familiarity and activity preferred self-talk exercise whereas participants who endorsed higher ratings scores of athletic familiarity and activity preferred imagery strategies. Flexibility of performance enhancement techniques such as imagery versus self talk, internal versus external, simultaneous versus delayed and how they can be executed to help an athlete reach his or her full potential. The coach should be able to apply psychology of sport during training sessions of the athletes. The coach should always work hard to ensure that the athletes and the coach himself are not stressed when participating under pressure. The athletes should always be focused and concentrate all the time.

Team building is another trait that enhances success of athletes. An athlete is able to do better in a team that is cohesive than being on his own. A good cohesive team gets good results. The coach should always ensure that the team is working as unit. A team that works as unit even if the team may be weak but ends up recording good results than teams that are strong but do not coordinate. Athletes should be given enough time to socialise with the team mates to develop friendship and trust among themselves. Once they develop strong bond, the athletes are bound to do well.


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