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Comparing The Use of Imagery in Recreational And Competitive Sport.

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Comparing The Use of Imagery in Recreational And Competitive Sport ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to find at if there was a significant difference in the use of imagery in recreational and competitive sport. To do this we had a sample of 56 spo2004 students fill out a Sports Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ). In this sample we had 18 participants, 9male and 9 female, who considered themselves involved in sport for recreation and 36, 18 male and 18 female, who considered themselves at a competitive level (above school level). The highest mean result recovered was: 29.0 for competitive participants in the MGA subscale. The lowest mean result recovered was: 22.0 for the recreational participants in the CG subscale. We found that for three of the five subscales of imagery theory there were significant differences when we used a t-test: CG - 0.005, MS - 0.04 and MGM - 0.04. The full initial can be found in the appendices. INTRODUCTION Imagery can be "a process by which sensory experiences are stored in memory and internally recalled and performed in the absence of external stimuli" (Murphy, 1994). More simply, imagery is the notion of being able to recall an action previously made to your memory and re-perform the action. Being able to recall the action is beneficial in terms of improvement of performance as mistakes can be amended mentally prior to re-performance. Previous research on imagery has focused on the cognitive function and past studies have been limited in terms of sport by a failure to examine any changes in athletes imagery use during a competitive season (Hall et al, 1990).


The SIQ was used in this study, with the intention of identifying the use of imagery. The hypotheses are: Experimental - There will be a significant difference in imagery used across each subscale of the SIQ between the recreational and competitive groups. Null - There will not be a significant difference in imagery use across each subscale of the SIQ between the recreational and competitive groups. METHOD Participants There were 54 sports studies students, aged between 19 and 23, were asked to complete the SIQ (Sports Imagery Questionnaire). 18 (9 male, 9 female) of these played sport at recreational level and 36 (18 male, 18 female) at competitive level - this being defined as competing above school level. All participants were asked if they wanted to take part and all agreed. No controls were instated on age, gender, occupation or fitness levels. Design The results taken from the sample were recorded on a questionnaire basis, as the 'Sport Imagery Questionnaire' (SIQ) was adopted. The questionnaire consisted of 30 questions to be completed via self report with the participants assessing their own level of imagery contribution to the given situations on a scale from 1 to 7 for each of the 30 questions, 1 meaning rarely occurring up to 7 which means occurring often. The 30 questions on the SIQ were used to total up scores for each of the 5 subscales of imagery theory as described in the introduction.


Internal imagery is through the eyes of the athlete - in a first person view, this would make it possible for a competitor of a higher level to see his/her mistakes from the three above mentioned subscales, then commit these mistakes to memory so as to be avoided in the future. This type of mental practice would be of more aid to the participant than the external imagery perspective, which is an outside view of performance. This does not necessarily mean that recreational participants use only the external perspective, only that with increased calibre of competition, the participants are more skilled and so get more from the mental imagery practice. In conclusion, athletes use imagery more at competition stage then at practice. This is because imagery is used to help keep an athlete focused on their event and in control of their arousal levels and emotions, which is why imagery is used just prior to competitions. The main goal of this study - to compare the use of imagery in competitive and recreational sport, was in part achieved with three of the subscales outlined in Paivios conceptual framework being shown to have significant differences for recreational and competitive participants. However, no controls were instated on gender, age or type of sport. Also, no distinction was made as to whether the participants were involved in team or individual sports, as it could be proved in further research that those partaking in team sports might just as easily use the external imagery perspective to improve technical skill as a team.

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