Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 5, 2017

The Effect of an Imagery Training Intervention on Self-confidence, Anxiety and Performance in Acrobatic Gymnastics – A Pilot Study

Elizabeth Ann Marshall and Ann-Marie Gibson

Abstract

Acrobatic gymnastics is a unique sport due to the different mixes of gender, age and number of gymnasts working in each partnership, however psychological skills training within this domain is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of an imagery training intervention on acrobatic performance, self-confidence and anxiety in acrobatic gymnastics. Participants (n=19) completed the Sport Imagery Questionnaire and the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory 2 prior to performing their competition routine. They were then randomly assigned to a 4 week imagery training intervention (n=11) or control group (n=8). Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to examine changes in acrobatic performance, levels of self-confidence and anxiety. The imagery intervention significantly increased acrobats’ self-confidence, however imagery did not significantly reduce anxiety or improve acrobatic performance. Future research should consider adopting a longer intervention period to elicit a reduction in anxiety levels and an enhancement of acrobatic performance.

Appendix

Appendix A – Imagery script 1

Friday Session – 11–16 Women’s Pair

You step on to the floor with confidence and you feel your heart beating faster than usual. You present to the judges along with your partner and settle into your starting position together. Your muscles are relaxed and you feel calm as you listen to the beep at the start of your routine. The music is slow and heart-warming as you begin to dance your choreography; your body movements match the routine perfectly. Your nerves switch into excitement as you climb up to the first balance skill. Both of you are strong and controlled through hand-to-hand and the transition into Mexican is smooth. When you exit the skill, you and your partner are delighted … you show this through smiling and you notice judges smiling back. As you flow through the routine, each skill you perform is controlled; you and your partner know what you are doing. You count each balance skill for 3 slow seconds in your head to make sure there are no time fault deductions. Two-on two lever is steady and the exit is controlled. Every perfect move and individual you perform boosts your confidence throughout the routine, it feels easy and effortless. You both finish the routine elegantly together, which matches the music. You walk off the competition floor feeling proud of yourself and your partner.

Appendix B – Imagery script 2

Fridays Session – 12–18 Men’s Four

You step on to the floor with confidence and you feel your heart beating faster than usual. You present to the judges along with your 3 partners and settle into your starting position together. Your muscles are relaxed and you feel calm as you listen to the beep at the start of your routine. You begin to dance your choreography to the upbeat and joyful music. You can see your partners at the corner of your eye and you are all dancing in perfect synchronization. Your nerves switch into excitement as you climb up in to the first tempo skill … You take a deep breath as you bend for the basket in precise timing with your partners. The salto’s reach maximum height and the landing is solid. To match the music, you maintain a joyful smile and you notice judges smiling back. As you flow through the routine, each skill you perform is powerful but controlled, you and your partners know exactly what they’re doing. Every perfect move and individual you perform boosts your confidence throughout the routine, it feels easy and effortless. All four of you finish the routine bang on the beat, and you hear the audience cheer for you. You walk off the competition floor feeling proud of yourself and your partners.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to extend their thanks to all participants who actively engaged throughout the process.

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Published Online: 2017-5-5

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