Effect of shot type, task difficulty and research environment on consistency of pre-performance routines in golf
Cotterill, Stewart T
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Golfers have been encouraged to develop consistent pre-performance routines (PPRs) in order to enhance their performance. However, the theoretical underpinning of these recommendations is unclear. Issues relating to the overall function(s) of the PPR, psychological components; routine usage across different shot types; and the impact of task difficulty on routine execution have yet to be explored in detail. The general purpose of this thesis was to quantify differences in the duration / composition of PPRs across shot types and task difficulty while developing a greater understanding of the psychological skills utilised and the function of the PPRs To achieve this general purpose four studies were completed. Study one (n=6, age M = 22.5yrs) explored the behavioural and temporal consistency of the PPRs utilised by the participants within shot type and across three different environmental conditions (competition, practice, and simulated). PPR behaviours were classified according to four categories (head, club, posture, still). The results revealed that the participants were very consistent in their routines and no significant differences were identified between environmental conditions. In Study two (n= 6, age M= 22.5years) the extent to which participants utilised different routines for different shots (putter, driver, wedge) as well as the impact of task difficulty on routine duration were explored. Significantly different routines were used for the three shot types. However, with the exception of one component for one participant, there were no significant differences between the conditions of task difficulty (easy Vs hard Vs very hard). In Study three (n=6, Age M= 23.7yrs) heart-rate deceleration (HR-D) characteristics for each participant prior to shot execution were explored for good versus poor shots as an indicator of attentional focus. There were clear differences between good and poor performance in the duration of the inter-beat intervals (IBIs). The specific purpose of Study four was to explore the psychological strategies utilised by golfers during their PPRs and the function of the PPRs. A number of key psychological skills were identified including: imagery, self-talk, relaxation techniques, trigger-words, concentration/focusing strategies, and achieving a ‘flow state’. The evidence suggested that the function of PPRs is to focus attention on the task. The findings of all four studies informed the development of practical guidelines for the future use and development of PPRs in golf.