Mental training for endurance sports
Master of Science
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The effects of a cognitive behavioral mental training intervention on endurance performance were explored using a time lagged multiple baseline single subject design. Seven local and provincial level endurance athletes were educated on goal setting, imagery, relaxation, and self-talk. The two dependent variables used to explore the effects of the intervention were perceived mental skills, assessed by a questionnaire, and power output at ventilatory threshold, a physiological-based performance measure. Training load, volume, frequency, and intensity were monitored during the length of the study and were kept constant. Results demonstrated that a short-term cognitive behavioral intervention enhanced participants’ self-evaluation in a number of mental skills. Power output at Ventilatory Threshold (VT) did not demonstrate significant changes after the intervention, showing no physiological adaptations as a consequence of the intervention. Two other studies using similar interventions found a consistent field performance enhancement effect on gym triathlon performance and 1600 metres running times (Patrick & Hrycaiko, 1998; Thelwell & Greenless, 2001). Because physiological adaptations were not found in this study, the possible sources of the field performance enhancement effect found in other investigations are discussed. Social validation scales indicated positive effects of the intervention on the participants’ satisfaction, importance, and usefulness of the intervention, and significance of the perceived changes in the performance. Qualitative data also support the participants’ perceived usefulness and satisfaction with the outcome of the study.