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Sport Psych


Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles

Self-Efficacy: The Key to Success in Sports
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

"...refers to situation-specific self-confidence as “self-efficacy” which is the strength of an individual’s belief that he or she can successfully perform a given activity."
Without confidence in one’s ability, an individual cannot perform to his or her potential. It is even possible that someone with lesser ability, but with confidence, can outperform this person because belief in oneself can be a powerful influence. What is this sense of confidence? Albert Bandura refers to situation-specific self-confidence as “self-efficacy” which is the strength of an individual’s belief that he or she can successfully perform a given activity. The concept of self-efficacy has often been used interchangeably with the concept of self-esteem which is the process of evaluating the self; however, self-efficacy is more accurately described as a precursor to self-esteem and is mediated by the individual’s self-attributions.

Generally, a model for understanding self-efficacy is to consider an athlete faced with a specific situation. For instance, a baseball player is in a clinch situation: it is the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the bases are loaded, and a grand slam will win the game. Under these conditions, the batter will have thoughts about his ability to hit a home run. These thoughts, or attributions, are based on his appraisal of causality in similar situations. In particular, if the batter has hit previous home runs in tense situations, the batter will consider whether those outcomes were due to his effort or due to lucky circumstances, whether the cause is stable, and whether he has control of the outcome. If he believes success is due to his effort, is stable, and is controllable, his self-efficacy in the situation will be high. Self-efficacy has been shown to influence performance; therefore, the higher the batter’s self-efficacy regarding this specific situation, the more likely he is to hit the grand slam. In turn, the outcome of hitting the grand slam affects future attributions and increases self-efficacy, thus creating an ongoing positive cycle. Of course, this process can also occur in a negative cycle.

What creates self-efficacy?

The individual’s self-efficacy about a given situation tends to be derived from several sources of potential attributions. Previous performance experiences are the most significant source of attributions that affects the development of self-efficacy. For example, a golfer makes his putt on the last three holes, his belief that he can make the next putt is increased. However, if he did not make the last three putts, this his belief in his ability to putt is decreased.

Another source of information that affects self-efficacy is observing others performing a specific task, referred to as “vicarious experiences.” If an athlete observes someone successfully perform a specific behavior that appears to be within the athlete’s skill range, the athlete’s self-efficacy regarding that behavior may increase. This is a weaker relationship than previous performance experiences possibly because as observed behaviors become more complex and out of the athlete’s skill level, it does not enhance self-efficacy.

Other sources of information include verbal persuasion and the athlete’s physiological state of arousal; however, these sources have not been empirically shown to have much impact on self-efficacy. The lack of impact from verbal persuasion may be due to recent previous performance experience tending to override the verbal persuasion. In other words, if an athlete just had a bad performance experience, she may be less likely to listen to a coach’s persuasion that she is capable of performing a specific task. However, from cognitive theory, we know that if persuasion is logically based, then it can be more effective. For instance, if the coach uses examples of specific past performances or related skills, then the athlete’s self-efficacy may be influenced. However, the research evidence is not strong in this area.

Finally, the athlete’s physiological state of arousal has not been particularly significant in predicting changes in self-efficacy possibly because level of arousal can be interpreted negatively or positively by different individuals.

How is self-efficacy increased?

1) Building Upon Successful Experiences. Given that we know the components of self-efficacy and the sources of information that change self-efficacy, we are capable of developing strategies to increase self-efficacy. For instance, previous performance is the strongest factor affecting self-efficacy; therefore, a coach may want to set up situations that provide for successful experiences for the athlete. An effective method can be to break down more complex skills into smaller, more specific components that challenge the athlete but are within his or her current ability level. The martial arts are an example of a systematic approach to this concept. For each belt rank in the martial arts, certain skills are taught starting with basic skills and building upon those skills until the more complex skills are learned at the higher belt level. For instance, a student is first taught simple kicks, then the kicks may be combined with extension techniques to obtain distance, then basic jump kicks are taught, and finally, the more complex jump kicks are taught. The skills at each level are challenging but not overwhelming to the athlete. This allows the athlete to have successful experiences which increases self-efficacy.

2) Observations of Peers' Success. Another method of increasing self-efficacy is having an athlete observe others successfully performing a skill. However, it is not enough to observe the skill but also believe that she has the ability to copy what she observed. If she is watching an elite figure skater do a triple loop she is not going to believe that she can copy it, but if she observes a friend with similar abilities do a spin she may have greater belief in her ability to copy the technique.

3) Specific Positive Feedback. Verbal persuasion can also be used to increase self-efficacy either in combination with the above methods or alone. Generally, with verbal persuasion it is important to be give very specific feedback which is best related to previous performance so as to convince the athlete of his or her ability to accomplish a task. Therefore, saying “You can do it!” is not as effective as saying “You successfully jumped 24 inches, you can do 26 inches.”

4) Psychological Skills Training. Finally, helping the athlete to learn to find and maintain his optimal level of physiological intensity to successfully perform can increase his belief in his ability. This can be done by teaching relaxation techniques to decrease intensity and self-talk to increase or decrease intensity level as needed.


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