Psychological fitness of elite weightlifters and competitive performance

Фотографии: 

Professor, Dr.Sc.Psych. B.P. Yakovlev1
Professor, Dr.Hab. G.D. Babushkin2
Master student, Master of Sports of Russia S.O. Kovbel'2
Postgraduate N.R. Usaeva1
1Surgut State University, Surgut
2Siberian State University of Physical Culture and Sport, Omsk

Keywords: psychological fitness, weightlifters, competitive performance.

Introduction. When athletes take part in elite competitions, they aim to win a slot on the national team and participate in international competitions, and so their challenge is to demonstrate the best possible result. It is a high mental stress for them, and not all athletes are able to cope with it [4, 14]. Top ranking sport competitions set high requirement to athletes’ psychological fitness, which may be insufficiently developed at the time of participation in the competitions [3, 11]. In this regard, not every athlete is able to realize his/her skills (physical, technical) during competitions, as the degree of realization largely depends on the athlete’s psychological fitness that includes a number of components [2, 3, 6, et al.].

There are several psychological areas in the study of competitive performance of athletes: analysis and consideration of the characteristics of the nervous system [5, 7, 10, et al.]; modulation of emotions [6, 11, 13, et al.]; intellectualization of the training process [3]; formation of sport motivation [1, 8, 12, et al.]; psychological follow-up of sport training [6; 11, 13, et al.]; study of mental stress and athletes’ tolerance to it [4, 14]; psychological training of athletes for competitions [3, 6, 9, 11, 14, et al.], etc. Successful competitive performance of athletes is largely determined by their psychological fitness. The findings in this area show that the additional components of psychological fitness could be the content of precontest mental activity and emotional intelligence [4, 9]. The study of the factors that determine competitive performance of athletes doing various sports is a topical issue in sport psychology.

Objective of the research was to study competitive performance of elite weightlifters in regular season and determine the impact of their psychological fitness on the achievement of high results.

Methods and structure of the study. To solve the first problem, we analyzed the score-sheets of the following weightlifting competitions in 2015: Russian Championship, Russian Cup and Russian Youth Spartakiad. The study involved weightlifters of the youth and first line-ups of the Russian team (MS; MSIC; HMS), a total of 13 people. When analyzing the score-sheets we took into account the claimed results in the snatch and clean-and-jerk exercises and the results the athletes actually demonstrated in the competitions. Performance coefficient was determined by dividing the achieved result by the claimed one. Psychological fitness of athletes and the content of their precontest mental activity were determined according to the methodology of G.D. Babushkin [2, 3]. Their level of emotional intelligence was assessed using the Hall’s method [14].

Results and discussion. The assessment of the weightlifters’ psychological fitness before the competitions, conducted at the first stage of the study, revealed the following. At the maximum value of psychological fitness of 33 points, the group average amounted to 30 points. The highest level of psychological fitness was observed in such components as motivational-need, reflexive and sensorimotor ones. The lowest values were detected in the emotional component of psychological fitness, which includes psychoregulation ability, state anxiety, and emotional state. At the maximum of 3 points, the constituents of the emotional component in the group averaged to 2.3-2.5 points, and the indices in the individual athletes equaled 1 point. This trend was observed during all three competitions. The athletes, who had demonstrated the low values of the emotional component, did not achieve the claimed results in the competitions. Their competitive performance coefficient ranged between 0.83 - 0.98. The athletes with the high values of the emotional component achieved and over-achieved the claimed results in the competitions. Their competitive performance coefficient ranged between 1.0 - 1.02.

The weightlifters, participating in three competitions (Russian Championship, Russian Cup, Russian Youth Spartakiad), achieved and over-achieved the claimed results only in 29 sets out of 78, which was only 37%. The coefficient of competitive performance in the snatch and clean-and-jerk exercises in all competitions was over 1 only in two weightlifters, while in the rest of the athletes this coefficient ranged between 0.97 - 0.99.

The second stage of the study included the determination of the content of precontest mental activity and the level of development of emotional intelligence and their impact on the results of the weightlifters’ competitive activity. This part of the investigation involved 11 elite weightlifters. These athletes participated at Yan Sparre International Memorial Tournament.

Performance in elite sports largely depends not on the athlete’s desire to win, but on his/her state of mind, way of thinking. This state of things was also proved during the examination of elite weightlifters (Table 1).

Table 1. Results of weightlifters' performance at Yan Sparre International Memorial Tournament (2015)

Athlete/Qualification

Plan/Double-event result

Place taken

Mental activity

Emotional intelligence

К.Ye. MS

305/310   +

2

56 high

73 high

P.D. MS

325/326   +

3

53 average

65 average

S.D. MS

350/330   –

4

34 low

63 average

S.А. MS

280/290   +

2

45 average

60 average

К.S. MS

370/370   +

2

58 high

71 high

М.А. MSIC

380/380   +

1

60 high

73 high

О.А. MSIC

380/375   –

1

54 average

71 high

М.А. MS

320/305   –

3

44 average

58 average

Sh.А. MS

370/370   +

1

58 high

68 average

L.D. HMS

430/430   +

1

60 high

75 high

D.D. HMS

420/415   –

1

60 high

73 high

Note: " + " plan fulfilled; " – " plan not fulfilled

The study of the content of the athletes' precontest mental activity revealed its positive component, shown in the athletes' positive thinking about their performance in the upcoming competition. The high level of the positive component was detected in 6 people, of whom two were honored masters of sports, two - masters of sports of international class. The athletes with the average and low levels of mental activity took 3-4 places in their weight category. In this regard, in the work with athletes we suggest using the technique of formation of positive thinking, which is described in the book "Intellectual-psychological preparation in sport" [3, 9].

The next psychological factor we analyzed during the examination of the weightlifters was their emotional intelligence [14]. At the maximum of 18 points, the highest rates were registered in the following components of emotional intelligence: emotional awareness (14 points); modulation of emotions (14.6 points); self-motivation (14.8 points). The weightlifters with the high level of emotional intelligence took 1-2 places in the competition (Yan Sparre International Memorial Tournament), while the athletes with the average level of emotional intelligence took 3-4 places. Artem Okulov, distinguished by the high level of emotional intelligence and the positive precontest mental activity, won the title of World Champion (2015, Houston).

We have analyzed and proved that mental activity and emotional intelligence are interrelated. The calculation of the correlation coefficient showed a high correlation relationship between emotional intelligence and the content of mental activity - r=0.815.

Conclusion. Due to the high rates of the motivational, reflexive and sensory components of weightlifters’ psychological fitness, it is not always possible to realize the accumulated potential under competitive conditions. Poor performance is the result of insufficient development of the emotional component, which is the most dynamic one and depends on various factors. Athletes with the low values of their emotional component usually do not achieve the claimed results in the competitions. Their competitive performance coefficient ranged between 0.83 – 0.98.

Weightlifters, who have achieved and over-achieved the claimed results in the competitions, are characterized by the high emotional intelligence and positive precontest mental activity. Athletes who have not achieved the claimed results of 15-20 kg have the average level of emotional intelligence and precontest mental activity. There has been identified the potential for enhancing the competitive performance of elite weightlifters, which consists in improving the indicators of the emotional component of psychological fitness, emotional intelligence and positive component of precontest mental activity.

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   Corresponding author: apokin_vv@mail.ru

 Abstract

Objective of the research was to study the competitive performance of elite weightlifters in regular season and determine how their psychological fitness influences results.

It has been established that elite weightlifters have defects in the formation of psychological fitness, which are in the content of the emotional component and include: state anxiety, self-regulation ability, emotional state, emotional intelligence and precontest mental activity. Weightlifters, who have shown planned results during competition, are characterized by high emotional intelligence and positive precotest mental activity. Athletes who have not fulfilled the plan have an average level of emotional intelligence and precontest mental activity. There has been identified the potential for enhancing the competitive performance of elite weightlifters, which consists in improving the indicators of the emotional component of psychological fitness (state anxiety, emotional state, psychoregulation ability), emotional intelligence and the positive component of precontest mental activity.