External Influences

Home advantage, crowd effect, social facilitation, importance of competition, evaluation apprehension, strategies for coping, environmental factors.

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Home Advantage

Teams playing at home win, on average, 56-64% of their matches. This is especially relevent to indoor sports (e.g. basketball). Can be seen in the success in the London 2012 Olympics. Suggests that large supportuve crowds may help the home team in terms of motivation and the amount of effort they put in.

'Proximity effect' where crowd close to the action increases the audience's influence. Evidence sugests that it takes 6-9 months for a team to regain its home advantage after moving to a new stadium. 

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Crowd Effect

Social Facilitation

  • Refers to influence other people can have on a performance
  • CO-ACTORS - other participants, teammates, officials and opponents (passive others)
  • AUDIENCE - spectators can have a huge impact on performance

Social Inhibition

  • Refers to the negative effect of an audience on a performer
  • Involves an increase in; arousal of the performer, competitive drive,speed of performance

Norman Triplett (1898) discovers that cyclist improved by 30% when cycling in a group, but Max Ringelmann (1913) showed that this was true only up to a certain number of co-actors. When group gets too big, some members lose motivation known as 'social loafing' or the 'Ringlemann effect'

Robert Zajonc (1965) believed that the mere presence of other was suffiecient to increase the arousal of a performers. The drive theory explains this relationship and how our learned behavivious tend to be our dominant responses.

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Coping with Crowds

Strategies include;

  • Practising selective attention to help cut out the negative awareness of others
  • Use cognitive visualisation techniques and strategies, such as imagery/mental rehearsal, to help focus on the task
  • Ensure essential skills are over-leanred and grooved to ensure the dominant response in the success, correct response. 
  • Use evaluative practices where people are encouraged to give feedback on other performances
  • Practise with simulated crowd noises, using audio recording
  • Incorporate stress-managment and relaxation techniques into training

'Peak flow' experience is the concept of being in the optimal zone of psychological preparedness. The  performer is in complete control and feels that nothing can go wrong. Skills are occuring automatically and performaer has time to look and identify space, opponents and teammates. It is the results of high degree inner drive and self-motivation. 

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Evaluation Apprehension

N.B. Cotrell (1972) studied concept of social facilitation and concluded that 'the key was not simply the mere presence of others influencing a perforomance, but whther the performer felt the audience was judging or evaluating the performance.' This is the definition of Evaluation Apprehension. 

It leads to arousal and the resulting dominant response. 

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Importance of Competition

The greater the importance of the competition, the higher the level of anxiety. Most of the pressure and anziety is due to external sources such as the media, audience and significant others. The wa ythe performaer percieves the pressure is the key to controlling anxiety.

This concept was developed by Martens (1998)  into the theory of competitive anxiety. Competitive anxiety is defined as an individuals tendancy to percieve competitive situations as threatening, and to respons to these situations by experiancing state anxiety. 

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Strategies for Coping

Self Talk (cognitive)

  • Aid motivation in intensive training sessions
  • Enable the athlete to link specific skills and help focus on the correct techniques. (e.g. Rugby player linking phrases 'low' and 'drive; when about to tackle on an opponent)
  • Reassures themself that they're well prepared and ready to compete, therfore increasing self confidence

Imagery (cognitive)

  • Improves concentration
  • Promotes feelings of self confidence
  • Involves creating series of mental pictures (visualisation) such as images of successful past performances, or movements of an elite role model, or a place of relaxation.
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Strategies for Coping

Cue Utilisation (behavioural)

  • Helps develop attention level but concentration on relevant cues. 
  • Combination of self talk and use of focus words.
  • Theory suggests that as arousal increases, attention narrows and you are more able to pick up relevant cues. 
  • Narrowing of attention only occcurs up to the optimum arousal level, where important cues may start getting ignored if arousal is too high. 

Relaxation Techniques (cognitive and somatic)

  • Self-directed relaxation is where performer concentrates on each of the miscle groups seperately and relaxes them
  • Progressive relaxation training is where perofrmer feels tension in their muscles and gets rid of this tension by 'letting go' 
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Strategies for Coping

Other techniques used for coping include;

  • Visualisation
  • Yoga
  • Music/ Relaxation Tapes
  • Toe-tensing
  • Deep-breathing exercises
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Environmental Factors

Factors that affect performance include;

  • Size of audience (larger = more arousal)
  • Proximity of audience (closer = more arousal)
  • Intentions of audience (postive or negative)
  • Skill level or diffuculty of task (performance improves with well-learnt skills)
  • Personality of performer (extroverts/ introvert)
  • Type of task (fine skills need lower arousal)
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Distraction Effect

Distraction is a lack of concentration. Attentional focus is vital for an athlete and if it is disrupted then theyre distracted from the task. Audience and evaluation apprehension act as distractions. 

In order to avoid the distraction effect, the sportsperson needs to pratise in distracting circumstances and practise switching attentional focus when faced with potentially distracting circumstances. 

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