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A Qualitative Analysis of Athletes’ Voluntary Image Speed Use

Jenny O and Craig R. Hall


The present study sought to describe the various reasons why athletes choose to manipulate the speeds of their images (i.e. image in slow motion, real-time, or fast motion). Athletes (N= 9) were interviewed using a one-on-one, semi-structured interview format. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and content analyzed for themes. Results suggested that the particular image speed selected by an athlete does often serve a specific purpose. Slow-motion images were primarily employed to enhance the learning, development, review, or refinement of skills and strategies. Real-time imagery was employed when athletes wanted to accurately represent movement tempo, relative timing, or absolute movement duration in their images. Fast motion images were used to enable strategy planning during competition, to increase or maintain confidence perceptions, to energize athletes, and to increase imagery session efficiency and focus. Furthermore, regarding the use of multiple image speeds, athletes emphasized the importance of avoiding exclusively imaging in fast- or in slow-motion, making note of the importance of real-time image speed use in ensuring accurate mental representations of temporal aspects of performance. The findings of the current study indicate that the timing guideline of the PETTLEP approach to motor imagery (Holmes & Collins, 2001) may require revision. The use of any given image speed may be a matter of personal preference rather than one of functional necessity. One exception, however, does appear to be images focused on learning some temporal aspect of performance. In these instances, real-time speed seems to be a necessary characteristic of one’s image.


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Published Online: 2013-06-18

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