Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Effect of Internal and External Imagery on Cricket Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Effect of Internal and External Imagery on Cricket Performance

Article excerpt

The purpose of the present investigation was to determine the effectiveness of an internal versus external imagery training program on performance of cricket bowlers (pitchers). Subjects (N=64) were high school students involved in a cricket studies curriculum. Based on baseline assessments of bowling (pitching) performance, subjects were matched and then randomly assigned to one of three conditions, (a) internal imagery training, (b) external imagery training, (c) control. Both internal and external imagery training groups received 10 minutes of training specific to their condition prior to each of six physical practice sessions over a three week period. After practicing their use of internal and external imagery during physical practice, each subject was instructed to use his specific imagery orientation prior to the performance of 12 pitches at the end of each of the six practice sessions. Control subjects simply viewed instructional videos for 10 minutes prior to each practice with no mention of imagery. Results from a 3 (imagery condition) x 6 (days) x 3 (blocks of trials) revealed that although all groups improved over time, there were no significant performance differences between the imagery groups. Results from the postexperimental questionnaire indicated that although subjects did practice and utilize their specific imagery orientation, approximately 50% found themselves switching between internal and external imagery. Results are discussed in terms of the instability of imagery orientation and future directions for research are offered.

In the world of sport, winners and losers are often separated by inches, tenths of a second, a single missed shot, or one critical error. It is not unexpected, therefore, that athletes and coaches have started to emphasize proper mental preparation as one way to stay a step ahead of their competition. One of the most popular of the mental preparation techniques is imagery.

The effectiveness of imagery has received a great deal of anecdotal support with such noted athletes as Chris Evert, Jack Nicklaus, Jean Claude Killy, Dwight Stones, and Greg Louganis (just to name a few) all reporting using imagery in their training and providing testimonials to its effectiveness in enhancing their performance. The extensive use of imagery by elite athletes was substantiated in a recent study by Hall, Rodgers, and Barr (1990) who found that national, international, and state level Canadian athletes from a variety of individual and team sports used imagery more extensively than recreational athletes. Similarly, a study conducted on United States Olympic athletes (Murphy, Jowdy, & Durtschi, 1990) found that 90% of the 159 Olympic athletes surveyed reported using imagery and 94% of the Olympic coaches surveyed used imagery with their athletes and teams. In addition, 40% of the Olympic athletes reported that they used imagery on the average of three to five days a week with 20% saying that they used imagery every day.

With the ever increasing number of athletes employing imagery, sport psychologists have started to study how imagery works well as its effects on enhancing performance. However, scientists have been studying imagery for almost a century with much of the early work conceptualized under the rubric of mental practice which has been defined as "the symbolic rehearsal of a physical activity in the absence of any gross muscular movements" (Richardson, 1967, p. 915). For example, Wiggins (1984) mentions a series of studies into mental practice carried out by physical educator William Anderson in 1897-1898. Similarly, Washburn (1916) contended that movements of slight magnitude occur when one simply imagines oneself performing an activity and that this muscular activity is basically the same as those produced by the actual movement itself except that imaginary sensations are of less magnitude. In fact, this idea was validated by the work of Jacobson (1932) who found that muscular activity occurred during imagery and this activity was even of a greater intensity for individuals with movement experience. …

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