Mental imagery ability in high and low performance collegiate basketball players
Eslinger, Oliver Warren
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172 college basketball players (56 males, 116 females) from NCAA Divisions I, II, and III were analyzed to determine how mental imagery ability (lA) relates to high and low physical performance. Investigation centered on performance lA (the ability to create, recall, and manipulate images during action) as a potential factor for competitive separation (athletic distinction between high and low performers). More specifically, research examined which of several imagery functions or types were the best predictors of successful basketball game performance. It was hypothesized that kinesthetic imagery and cognitive imagery would be the most important imagery functions. The Basketball Background Questionnaire (BBQ; Eslinger, 2002), Movement Imagery Questionnaire-Revised (MIQ-R; Hall & Martin, 1997), and the Sport Imagery Questionnaire (SIQ; Hall, Mack, Paivio, & Hausenblas, 1998) were utilized as measures of lA while physical performance was calculated using the Basketball-Performance Statistic Rating (B-PSR; Eslinger, 2002). Additional data was collected from selected athletes to identify characteristics related to imagery use and development. Results from correlation, multiple regression, t-tests, ANOVA, and discriminant function analyses suggest that, in general, basketball performance is best enhanced through kinesthetic imagery and motivational specific imagery. Elite players are able to perform consistently at a high level because they have an ability to feel the action and increase their internal drive for success before and during games. Surprisingly, cognitive general imagery scores were higher in low-level players, suggesting these athletes think "too much" during competition. In addition, depending on gender, playing position, and NCAA division, other types of imagery may be important influences of performance. Differences and associations between high and low performers and imagers as they relate to the B-PSR and seven types of imagery ability are discussed. A new model of performance imagery is highlighted based on previous theories and current results. Directions for future research are covered that shape sport psychology research, application, and possible imagery training techniques for basketball players and coaches.
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