Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 8, 2014

A PETTLEP Imagery Intervention with Young Athletes

Mary L. Quinton EMAIL logo , Jennifer Cumming , Rob Gray , Joseph R. Geeson , Andrew Cooper , Hannah Crowley and Sarah E. Williams


The PETTLEP model of imagery (Holmes & Collins, 2001) was designed to produce more effective imagery. The PETTLEP acronym represents seven key elements (i.e., Physical, Environment, Task, Timing, Learning, Emotion, and Perspective) which should be considered by researchers and practitioners when delivering an imagery intervention. It is thought that by including these elements the functional equivalence at the neural level between imagery and performance will be increased. A number of interventions have supported the use of PETTLEP imagery in improving performance of motor skills (e.g., Smith, Wright, Allsopp, & Westhead, 2007, 2008). To date, however, these PETTLEP interventions have mainly been applied to adult populations with very few conducted with children. The aim of the present study was to test the effects of a 5-week layered-PETTLEP intervention (i.e., adding PETTLEP elements progressively) on movement imagery ability and performance of a soccer task in children. A secondary aim was to examine the potential for a sport-specific nutritional intervention to serve as an effective control condition. Thirty-six children (34 male, 2 female, M age=9.72 years, SD= 2.05) from a local futsal club were age matched and then randomly allocated to either a PETTLEP imagery intervention group or a nutrition control group. Pre-testing consisted of the Movement Imagery Questionnaire for Children and a dribbling and passing motor task. Post-test protocol was the same with the addition of a nutritional knowledge test. Despite the imagery intervention producing no significant improvements in imagery ability or motor task performance, there was a significant correlation at post-test for the imagery group between age and external visual (r=0.56, p<0.05) and kinesthetic imagery ability (r=0.57, p<0.05). Furthermore, the nutrition group scored significantly higher than the imagery group on the nutrition test (p<0.05). This study highlights important aspects that need to be considered when delivering PETTLEP imagery interventions to children. This study is also one of the first studies to show that control groups, especially with children, can be used for educational purposes. Similar control groups should be considered in future research, as it means interventions can not only be used in a practical manner to improve sporting performance but also to educate and improve knowledge.


Callow, N., & Hardy, L. (2004). The relationship between the use of kinaesthetic imagery and different visual imagery perspectives. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(2), 167177. doi:10.1080/02640410310001641449Search in Google Scholar

Callow, N., & Waters, A. (2005). The effect of kinesthetic imagery on the sport confidence of flat-race horse jockeys. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 6(4), 443459. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2004.08.001Search in Google Scholar

Carter, M. J., Yoxon, E., Ste-Marie, D. M., Cumming, J., & Rose, M. (2013). The validation of a movement imagery questionnaire for children (MIQ-C). Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, S1659.Search in Google Scholar

Collet, C., Guillot, A., Lebon, F., MacIntyre, T., & Moran, A. (2011). Measuring motor imagery using psychometric, behavioral, and psychological tools. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 39, 8592. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e31820ac5e0Search in Google Scholar

Cooley, S. J., Williams, S. E., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2013). Methodological variations in guided imagery interventions using movement imagery scripts in sport: A systematic review. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 8(1), 122. doi:10.1515/jirspa-2012-0005Search in Google Scholar

Cumming, J., & Ramsey, R. (2009). Sport imagery interventions. In S.Mellalieu & S.Hanton (Eds.), Advances in applied sport psychology: A review (pp. 536). London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Cumming, J. L., & Ste-Marie, D. M. (2001). The cognitive andmotivational effects of imagery training: A matter of perspective. The Sport Psychologist, 15, 276288.10.1123/tsp.15.3.276Search in Google Scholar

Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2012). The role of imagery in performance. In S.Murphy (Ed.), Handbook of sport and performance psychology (pp. 213232). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199731763.013.0011Search in Google Scholar

Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2013). Introducing the revised applied model of deliberate imagery use for sport, dance, exercise, and rehabilitation. Movement & Sport Sciences, 82(4), 6981. doi:10.1051/sm/2013098Search in Google Scholar

Elias, L. J., Bryden, M. P., & Bulman-Fleming, M. B. (1998). Footedness is a better predictor than is handedness of emotional lateralization. Neuropsychologia, 36(1), 3743. doi:10.1016/0028–39329700107-3Search in Google Scholar

Evans, L., Jones, L., & Mullen, R. (2004). An imagery intervention during the competitive season with an elite rugby union player. The Sport Psychologist, 18, 252271.10.1123/tsp.18.3.252Search in Google Scholar

Finke, R. A. (1980). Levels of equivalence in imagery andperception. Psychological Review, 87(2), 113132. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.87.2.113Search in Google Scholar

Gould, D., & Damarjian, N. (1996). Imagery training for peak performance. In J. L.Van Raalte & B. W.Brewer (Eds.), Exploring sport and exercise psychology (pp. 2550). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Search in Google Scholar

Guillot, A., Collet, C., & Dittmar, A. (2005). Influence of environmental context on motor imagery quality: An automatic nervous system study. Biology of Sport, 22, 215226.Search in Google Scholar

Guillot, A., Di Rienzo, F., MacIntyre, T., Moran, A., & Collet, C. (2012). Imagining is not doing but involves specific motor commands: A review of experimental data related to motor inhibition. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 122. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00247Search in Google Scholar

Hall, C. R. (2001). Imagery in sport and exercise. In R.Singer, H.Hausenblas, & C.Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (pp. 529549). New York, NY: Wiley.Search in Google Scholar

Hall, C. R., & Martin, K. A. (1997). Measuring movement imagery abilities: A revision of the Movement Imagery Questionnaire. Journal of Mental Imagery, 21, 143154.Search in Google Scholar

Hardy, L., & Callow, N. (1999). Efficacy of external and internal visual imagery perspectives for the enhancement of performance on tasks in which form is important. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 21, 95112.10.1123/jsep.21.2.95Search in Google Scholar

Holmes, P. S., & Collins, D. J. (2001). The PETTLEP approach to motor imagery: A functional equivalence model for sports psychologists. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13(1), 6083. doi:10.1080/10413200109339004Search in Google Scholar

Isaac, A., Marks, D., & Russel, E. (1986). An instrument forassessing imagery of movements: The Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire (VMIQ). Journal of Mental Imagery, 10, 2330.Search in Google Scholar

Jeannerod, M. (1994). The representing brain: Neural correlates of motor intention and imagery. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 17(2), 187202.10.1017/S0140525X00034026Search in Google Scholar

Jeannerod, M. (1997). The cognitive neuroscience of action. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Joh, A. S., Jaswal, V. K., & Keen, R. (2011). Imagining a way out of the gravity bias: Preschoolers can visualize the solution to a spatial problem. Child Development, 82(3), 744750. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01584.xSearch in Google Scholar

Koch, S., Waliczek, T. M., & Zajicek, J. M. (2006). The effect of a summer garden program on the nutritional knowledge,attitudes, and behaviours of children. HortTechnology, 16(4), 620625.10.21273/HORTTECH.16.4.0620Search in Google Scholar

Lang, P. J. (1977). Imagery in therapy: An information processing analysis of fear. Behavior Therapy, 8(5), 862886. doi:10.1016/S0005-7894(77)80157-3Search in Google Scholar

Lang, P. J. (1979). A bio-informational theory of emotionalimagery. Psychophysiology, 16, 495512. doi:10.1111/1469-8986.197901511.Search in Google Scholar

Lang, P. J., Kozak, M. J., Miller, G. A., Levin, D. N., & McLean, A. (1980). Emotional imagery: Conceptual structure and pattern of somato-visceral response. Psychophysiology, 17, 179192. doi:10.1111/14698986198000133Search in Google Scholar

Lequerica, A., Rapport, L., Axelrod, B. N., Telmet, K., & Whitman, R. D. (2002). Subjective and objective assessment methods of mental imagery control: Construct validation of self-report measures. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 24, 11031116. doi:10.1076/jcen.24.8.1103.8370Search in Google Scholar

Louis, M., Collet, C., Champely, S., & Guillot, A. (2012). Differences in motor imagery time when predicting task duration in alpine skiers and equestrian riders. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83(1), 8693. doi:10.1080/02701367.2012.10599828Search in Google Scholar

Martin, K. A., Moritz, S. E., & Hall, C. R. (1999). Imagery use in sport: A literature review and applied model. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 245268.10.1123/tsp.13.3.245Search in Google Scholar

Moran, A., Guillot, A., MacIntyre, T., & Collet, C. (2012). Re-imagining motor imagery: Building bridges between cognitive neuroscience and sport psychology. British Journal of Psychology, 103, 224247. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02068.xSearch in Google Scholar

Morris, T., Spittle, M., & Watt, A. P. (2005). Imagery in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Search in Google Scholar

Munroe-Chandler, K. J., Hall, C. R., Fishburne, G. J., O, J., & Hall, N. V. (2007). The content of imagery use in youth sport. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(2), 158174. doi:10.1080/1612197X.2007.9671817Search in Google Scholar

O, J., Munroe-Chandler, K. J., Hall, C. R., & Hall, N. D. (2014). Using motivational general-mastery imagery to improve the self-efficacy of youth squash players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26(1), 6681. doi:10.1080/10413200.2013.778914Search in Google Scholar

Ramsey, R., Cumming, J., Edwards, M. G., Williams, S., & Brunning, C. (2010). Examining the emotion aspect of PETTLEP-based imagery with penalty taking in soccer. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 33(3), 295314.Search in Google Scholar

Rutkowski, E. M., & Connelly, C. D. (2011). Obesity risk knowledge and physical activity in families of adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 26, 5157. doi:10.1016/j.pedn.2009.12.069Search in Google Scholar

Slocum, S. K., & Tiger, J. H. (2011). An assessment of the efficiency of and child preference for forward and backward chaining. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44(4), 793805. doi:10.1901/jaba.2011.44-793Search in Google Scholar

Smith, D., Holmes, P. S., Whitemore, L., & Devonport, T. (2001).The effect of theoretically based imagery scripts on field hockey performance. Journal of Sport Behavior, 24(4), 408419.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, D., Wright, C., Allsopp, A., & Westhead, H. (2007). It’s all in the mind: PETTLEP-based imagery and sports performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19, 8092. doi:10.1080/10413200600944132Search in Google Scholar

Smith, D., Wright, C. J., & Cantwell, C. (2008). Beating the bunker: The effect of PETTLEP imagery on golf bunker shot performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79(3), 385391. doi:10.1080/02701367.2008.10599502Search in Google Scholar

Swinburn, B., & Egger, G. (2002). Preventive strategies against weight gain and obesity. Obesity Reviews, 3, 289301. doi:10.1046/j.1467-789X.2002.00082.xSearch in Google Scholar

Szpunar, K. K., Watson, J. M., & McDermott, K. B. (2007). Neural substrates of envisioning the future. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(2), 642647. doi:10.1073/pnas.0610082104Search in Google Scholar

Taktek, K., Zinsser, N., & St-John, B. (2008). Visual versuskinesthetic mental imagery: Efficacy for the retention and transfer of a closed motor skill in young children. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(3), 174187. doi:10.1037/1196-1961.62.3.174Search in Google Scholar

The Football Association. (2009, January 4). What Is Futsal? Retrieved February 2, 2012, from in Google Scholar

Wakefield, C. J., & Smith, D. (2009). Impact of differing frequencies of PETTLEP imagery on netball shooting performance. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 4(1), 111. doi:10.2202/1932-0191.1043Search in Google Scholar

Wakefield, C., & Smith, D. (2012). Perfecting practice: Applying the PETTLEP model of motor imagery. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 3(1), 111. doi:10.1080/21520704.2011.639853Search in Google Scholar

Wakefield, C., Smith, D., Moran, A. P., & Holmes, P. (2013). Functional equivalence or behavioural matching? A critical reflection on 15 years of research using the PETTLEP model of motor imagery. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6(1), 105121. doi:10.1080/1750984X.2012.724437Search in Google Scholar

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Layered stimulus response training improves motor imagery ability and movement execution. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 6071.10.1123/jsep.35.1.60Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2011). Measuring athlete imagery ability: The Sport Imagery Ability Questionnaire. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33, 416440.10.1123/jsep.33.3.416Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Williams, S. E., Cumming, J., & Balanos, G. M. (2010). The use of imagery to manipulate challenge and threat appraisal states in athletes. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 32, 339358.10.1123/jsep.32.3.339Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Williams, S. E., Cumming, J., & Edwards, M. G. (2011). The functional equivalence between movement imagery, observation, and execution influences imagery ability. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82, 555564. doi:10.5641/027013611X13275191444224Search in Google Scholar

Williams, S. E., Cumming, J., Ntoumanis, N., Nordin-Bates, S., Ramsey, R., & Hall, C. (2012). Further validation and development of the Movement Imagery Questionnaire. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34, 621646.10.1123/jsep.34.5.621Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Published Online: 2014-5-8
Published in Print: 2014-1-1

©2014 by De Gruyter

Downloaded on 10.12.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow