Psychology on track

 

By Holly Glynn

 

Have you ever wondered how that track start came to be so fast, or how basketball players never seem to tire game after game?

An obvious answer to these questions might be that they spend hours practicing in preparation for their bodies to perform. But what if you were told they also spend a lot of time preparing their minds as well?

Asher Delmott (BA ’12-Psychology), researched the mental-physical connection in student athletes.

Through a psychology-centered internship and an independent study, Delmott studied college athletes in collaboration with Dr. Mark Stanbrough, associate professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Together, the two worked on creating a class to teach athletes various mental skills, such as goal-setting, imagery and relaxation.

Delmott points out that mental skills are important for athletes to practice because “they are a great way to improve nearly every aspect of competition. For example, goals are great for increasing motivation. Imagery can be just as effective as physical practice in some cases. Relaxation helps reduce anxiety, and there are plenty of other benefits. Furthermore, most of the skills can be used outside of sports, such as goal-setting for eating healthier, or relaxation before a tough exam.”

Delmott also conducted an independent study with Dr. John Wade, associate professor of psychology, where he studied 70 Emporia State track and field athletes and how their religious beliefs influence their performance.

As a long-time cross country and track athlete, Delmott was inspired to pursue a study on religion for several reasons. “My roommates are all active in church, and religion is also present in my life,” he explains.

Delmott has found a correlation between athletes who rated themselves successful and attributing performance to a stable cause.

 

--Excerpted from Emporia State University Student Experience magazine