Mood and Psychological Skills of World-Ranked Female Tennis Players

By Meyers, Michael C.; Sterling, James C. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, September 1994 | Go to article overview

Mood and Psychological Skills of World-Ranked Female Tennis Players


Meyers, Michael C., Sterling, James C., Treadwell, Sandy, Bourgeois, Anthony E., LeUnes, Arnold, Journal of Sport Behavior


Early sport studies have addressed personality characteristics of various athletic groups noting distinct differences among sport samples (Booth, 1958; Johnson, Hutton & Johnson, 1954). Later research by Morgan (1984) identified psychological mood states in athletes and he coined the term "iceberg profile" to reflect a model of mental health deemed necessary for optimal performance. More importantly, these results indicated a difference in mood states between elite and subelite athletes. Additional work has substantiated mood state profiles in other sport populations noting differences in athletes according to playing positions or events (Bell & Howe, 1988; Meyers, LeUnes & Sterling, 1988), and degree of injury (Meyers, LeUnes, Elledge, Tolson & Sterling, 1992). Further efforts in identifying successful and unsuccessful athletes were also reported in oarsmen (Morgan & Johnson, 1978), collegiate female rowers (Raglin, Morgan & Luchsinger, 1990), and Olympic wrestlers (Silva, Shultz, Haslam, Marti & Murray, 1985).

Recent research has focused attention on psychological skills relevant to sport competition (Mahoney, Gabriel & Perkins, 1987). These skills include anxiety management, concentration, self-confidence, motivation, mental preparation and team orientation. Limited studies are now emerging on Olympic athletes (Mahoney 1989) and an attempt at differentiating elite athletes from developmental competitors has also been reported (Pursley, Arredondo, Barzdukas and Troup, 1990).

Presently, there is a paucity of research concerning mood state and psychological skills exhibited by female tennis players at the professional level of competition. Furthermore, there is limited published information addressing psychological differences between successful or top-ranked tennis players and their less successful, lower-ranked peers (Lindquist, 1978). The majority of tennis studies have primarily concentrated on personality characteristics of local tennis club participants, physical education students, and varsity tennis players (Conforto & Marcenaro, 1979; Geron, Furst & Rotstein 1986; Singer, 1969), field dependence in amateur and collegiate players (Barrel & Trippe, 1975; Lindquist, 1978), attentional style in recreational and varsity athletes (Van Schoyck & Grasha, 1981), sex role attitudes in college undergraduates (Colley, Nash, O'Donnell & Restorick, 1987; Del Ray, 1977), and hand laterality in professional competitors (Wood & Aggleton, 1989). There is only one study addressing mood state of collegiate varsity tennis teams (Cavanaugh & Allsen, 1984).

With current advances in sport science occurring at a rapid rate, information from an often inaccessible, world-ranked athletic group would add to the growin body of sport knowledge, and provide further insight into the complex mechanism of sport performance assumed to exist at elite levels of competition. In addition, results would further define the psychometric profile of the female athlete. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to substantiate mood state an psychological skills of world-ranked female tennis athletes, and investigate possible psychological differences between ranked tennis athletes.

Methods

Subjects and Procedures

Mood states and psychological skills germane to athletic performance were assessed in 45 world-ranked female tennis players (age 24.3 [+ or -] 4.7 yrs) o the Women's International Tennis Association (WITA) during the 1989 Virginia Slims Tour. Following written informed consent, the Profile of Mood States (POMS; McNair, Lorr & Droppleman, 1971) and the Psychological Skills Inventory for Sports (PSIS R-5; Mahoney et al., 1987) were individually administered by a WITA athletic trainer to athletes in the locker/training area on noncompetitive days during the tournament. All subjects completed the test battery according t written directions on both the PSIS R-5 and the POMS. …

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