Psychological fitness tests for competitive performance forecasts

Фотографии: 

Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor B.P. Yakovlev1
Dr.Hab., Professor G.D. Babushkin2
PhD, Associate Professor E.G. Babushkin3
Postgraduate I.B. Tarasenko1
Postgraduate N.R. Usaeva1
Postgraduate A.G. Banshchikov1
1
Surgut State University KhMAR-Yugra, Surgut
2Siberian State University of Physical Culture and Sports, Omsk
3Omsk State Technical University, Omsk

 

Keywords: forecasts, psychodiagnostics, sports, competitive success, athletes, competitions.

Background. The competitive performance forecast issues are directly related to the athletic precompetitive training process design and management, with a high priority given to the mental aspects of the forecast procedure [1, 4, 6]. Forecasting procedure may be interpreted as a prior assessment of the likely individual competitive performance and accomplishment. Objective of the mental domain of the forecast is to profile the personality mental qualities pivotal for the expected competitive success. Presently performance forecasts are ranked among the key precompetitive training process management tools; and their role is to provide grounds for the precompetitive training process control decisions. The high priority given to the performance forecasts is due to the following: growing social value of the top competitive successes; growing competitiveness on the global arenas; high uncertainty of competitive expectations and accomplishments; growing role of theoretical contributions to athletic training systems; and the growing strictness of athletic training process control standards [2, 4, 6, 7 et al].

Objective of the study was to explore benefits of the competitive performance forecasting method based on the precompetitive mental fitness test data.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study were highly-skilled athletes representing the swimming sprint (picked team of the Omsk region), pistol shooting (picked team of the Omsk region), weightlifting (junior and adult competitors from the Russian national team) and speed skating sport (Russian national team). All the subjects competed in the top-ranking competitions including the 2014 and 2015 international events; 2014 and 2015 Russian Championships; 2015 World Championship; and the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. We appreciate the valuable contribution to the data mining and processing of a number of post-graduates and contenders including E.A. Skoruk, K.V. Dikikh, S.O. Kovbel and R.E Rybin.

Prior to the competitions, the athletes were tested to rate their mental fitness using the integrated G.D. Babushkin's Test [2]; emotional intelligence using the N. Hall’s Test [8]; and their precompetitive mindsets [3]. Mental fitness may be defined as a combined index including the following components: motivational, emotional, reflexive and sensorimotor ones.

To forecast the highly-skilled athletes’ competitive performance, we performed the mental fitness rating tests, with the test rates used to split up them into Group 1 (n=10) with high mental fitness rates and Group 2 (n=15) with average mental fitness rates. We expected Group 1 to be successful in attaining the training process goals and prize-winning in competitions; and Group 2 to fail to fulfil the plans. Actual competitive performance data of both of the groups confirmed this assumption.

Study results and discussion. The weightlifters’ mental fitness rating tests generated fairly high motivational, reflexive and sensorimotor componential test rates of 2.8-3.0 points on a 3-point scale. However, the high componential rates were considered still insufficient for confident forecasts of high competitive performance for the reason that some of the athletes showed relatively low emotionality test rates in the A.V. Alekseev Psychofunctional Test, M. Luscher’s Test and Y.L. Khanin’s Test. It is a common knowledge that athletes tested with low emotionality rates normally fail to attain competitive goals since their precompetitive status cannot be rated as optimal (ready to compete) one.

Athletes may fail to attain expected competitive goals for a variety of reasons including high situational anxiety levels; low mental control skills and abilities; imperfect emotional condition etc. – and the relevant rating tests may help forecast weightlifters’ performance in the upcoming competitions. The high contribution of the affective component to the overall mental fitness of weightlifters was confirmed by studies of the emotional intelligence. It was found that the most successful competitors were normally tested with the highest emotional intelligence rates versus the lower rated ones who were among the runner-ups and lower ranks.

In addition, we should also underline the high role played in the mental fitness structure by the positive precompetitive mindset that may be rated by special tests to effectively forecast the individual competitive performance.

It was found that the higher are the mastery levels the higher are the mental stressors and their impacts on the athletes’ mental condition, behaviour and performance [1, 3,  5, 7, 8 et al]. It is the individual tolerance to mental stressors that may either contribute to competitive success or undermine it depending on the level of tolerance. In the course of the study we developed a stress tolerance rating method [2, 3] including special tests to rate the following its components: motivation for success; emotions (vegetative indices, mental self-control abilities); willpower (volitional qualities, virility); intelligence (good operational memory, intellectual level); and intuition. The high-ranking pistol shooters were tested with high mental stress tolerance rates versus the mass-class shooters tested with moderate mental stress tolerance rates. The mental stress tolerance rating study of the top- and lower-ranking pistol shooters versus their competitive success rates and Fisher’s factor analysis showed a high contribution of this component to competitive success only in the top-ranking group [2, 3].

Furthermore, the high-ranking swimmers were tested with moderate mental stress tolerance rates; and the competitive record analyses showed that the high-ranking swimmers’ competitive success rates showed only 40% match with the expected results – that may be due to the still low mental stress tolerance rates [5, 7].

Therefore, the study showed the individual responses to mental stressors being determined by the individual mental stress tolerance that may be rated using special tests to forecast the individual competitive success and/or adjust the precompetitive mental conditioning process for success.

Conclusion. The study gives grounds to recommend the mental fitness test model for the highly-skilled athletes’ competitive performance forecasts. It was found that the athletes tested with all mental fitness components being fairly equal may still differ in the emotional components, mindsets (frame of thinking), emotional intelligence and mental stress tolerance rates. The athletes tested high on the mental fitness components rating scales were found having higher chances to attain planned competitive performance levels and win.

References

  1. Babushkin G.D., Yakovlev B.P. Psikhologo-pedagogicheskie metodiki v strukture podgotovki sportsmenov. Ucheb. posobie [Psychological and educational methods in sports training structure. Study guide]. Omsk: SSUPC publ., 2015, 228 p.
  2. Babushkin G.D., Skoruk E.A. Perenosimost psikhicheskoy nagruzki i ee vliyanie na rezultativnost sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti sportsmenov [Mental load tolerance and its impact on athletes' competitive success]. Omskiy nauchny vestnik, 2014, no. 3, pp. 171-174.
  3. Babushkin G.D., Yakovlev B.P. Psikhicheskaya nagruzka v sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti i metodika diagnostiki ee perenosimosti sportsmenom [Mental load in competitive activities and mental load tolerance diagnostics methods]. Omskiy nauchny vestnik, 2013, no. 5, pp 178-182.
  4. Balandin V.I., Bludov Y.M., Plakhtienko V.A. Prognozirovanie v sporte [Forecasts in sports]. Moscow: Fizkultura i sport publ., 1986, 192 p.
  5. Rybin R.E., Babushkin G.D., Bachin V.P. Predsorevnovatelnaya podgotovka plovtsov vysokoy kvalifikatsii [Pre-competitive training of highly skilled swimmers]. Omskiy nauchny vestnik, 2015, pp. 187-191.
  6. Salnikov V.A. Individualnye razlichiya v sisteme sportivnoy deyatelnosti [Individual differences in system of sports activities]. Omsk: SSAHU publ., 2003, 262 p.
  7. Yakovlev B.P. Psikhicheskaya nagruzka v sporte vysshikh dostizheniy [Mental load in elite sports]. Surgut: SSPU publ., 2007, 201 p.
  8. Yakovlev B.P. Motivatsiya i emotsii v sportivnoy deyatelnosti [Motivation and emotions in sports activity]. Moscow: Sovetskiy sport publ., 2014, 312 p.

Corresponding author: apokin_vv@mail.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to explore benefits of the competitive performance forecasting method based on the precompetitive psychodiagnostics data. Subject to the study were highly-skilled athletes representing swimming sprint, pistol shooting, weightlifting and speed skating sports. The subjects’ mental fitness was tested and the test rates were used to split up them into Group 1 (n=10) with high mental fitness rates and Group 2 (n=15) with moderate mental fitness rates. We expected Group 1 being successful in attaining the training process goals and prize-winning in competitions; and Group 2 failing to fulfil the plans. Actual competitive performance data of both of the groups confirmed this assumption.

Therefore, the study findings give the grounds to recommend the mental fitness test model for the highly-skilled athletes’ competitive performance forecasts. It was found that the athletes tested with all mental fitness components being fairly equal may still differ in the emotional components, mindsets (frame of thinking), emotional intelligence and mental stress tolerance rates. The athletes tested high on the mental fitness components rating scales were found having higher chances to attain planned competitive performance levels and win.