Emotional support helps sportsmen in competitions

May 2nd, 2009 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 2 (IANS) Giving emotional support personally or professionally could help sportsmen edge past competition.
A study by the University of Exeter (U-E) shows how a sympathetic ear or encouraging words can improve performance.

Previous studies by U-E have linked ’social support’ to performance in golf and other sports. Now researchers have tested its importance by providing tailor made support to individual sportsmen and then measuring its impact on performance.

The study focused on three male golfers, who all competed at regional, national and

international levels.

For half of the study, the golfers were each given regular one-on-one support by Paul Freeman of the University of Exeter (U-E), who led the study.

Freeman offered a range of support including listening to the golfers as they talked through their problems, offering encouragement and reassurance before competitions, and helping them with practical issues, such as organising accommodation during competitions.

To provide comparative data, the researchers recorded the performance of the three golfers prior to receiving the support from Freeman.

All three golfers performed better when they were receiving support from Freeman. The players improved by an average of 1.78 shots per round, which could be significant at high-level golf tournaments, said an U-E release.

Freeman said: “In this study we have taken our understanding of the significance of social support a step further. By actually providing support to the golfers we were able to measure the actual improvement in performance.”

These findings were published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.

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