7224 Sport and Performance Psychology
Revolutionary Research Proposal
Word count 1912
Psychological impact of being visually impaired on performance and training
Participation in sporting activities requires training, which in turn affects performance (Brewer, 2017). In general, psychological and physical factors have significant impacts on athletes as well as other sports men and women. The main focus on training and performance is the well- being of athletes, social and developmental aspects of participation in sports, as well as systemic issues related to sports organisations and settings. To enhance participation and performance, coaches and other professional trainers lay emphasis on counselling and clinical interventions, behavioral and cognitive skills that enhance performance, and consultation (Joseph, 2011). Individuals are encouraged to participate in sports regardless of their disabilities. Visually impaired athletes for instance, make the best competitors in spite of their physical challenges. However, there are psychological issues such as social interaction, emotions, behaviors and perceptions towards the visually impaired. The study therefore, aims to discover the psychological impacts of being visually impaired on training and performance.
There is no known standard definition for visually impaired persons. This is because several settings and parameters exists in different countries. The condition of visual impairment could be due to heredity, surgical treatment, congenital or caused by glasses. This is because all the conditions results in the vision being compromised. Silva (2000) defines sporting activities participated in by people with disabilities as any sport suited to the capabilities of such individuals, which focus on athletic activities, physical education as well as motor development. A lot of studies have been done on the importance of participating in sport activities among the visually impaired, yet little research on the psychological impacts of visually impaired persons on training and performance is in existence. The aim of the research therefore is to identify psychological impacts of visually impaired athletes on training and performance. In the research, the sets of questions to be answered include; what are the psychological issues faced by visually impaired athletes during training? To what extent does the psychological problems hinder performance of visually impaired athletes? How does psychological challenges experienced by the visually impaired athletes affect their participation in sport activities?
Stephen and Kate (2003) conducted a study on the visually impaired. Their study mainly focused on imagery experiences in performance regarding to visual impairments. In the study, structured qualitative interviews were used with mental images in training and sport activities. After the interview, analysis was done with an aim of describing the athletes using different dimensions. Stephen and Kate (2003) made findings that visual impairment does not limit the ability in the use of mental imagery. Besides, psychological intermediations may involve use of sensory modalities for the athletes. Imageries impacts on psychological constructs as well as development of motor skills. The imageries used by athletes determines the affective, cognitive and behavioral outcomes of athletes in varying competitive situation. Images thus, have been proposed by Stephen and Kate (2003) to exist in five groups. The images are broadly grouped into cognitive and motivational types. Motivational images can either be specific or general. General motivational imagery relates to mastering and effective coping with challenging situations. Specific motivational imagery demonstrates goal oriented behaviors and specific goals. General imagery is linked to feelings of relaxation, anxiety, arousal and stress in sport competition. Cognitive imagery can as well be either general or specific. General cognitive imagery focus mainly on tactics and strategies towards a competitive event. Cognitive specific imagery on the other hand relates to sports skills. Another important aspect is how performers view the image. Report has it in the study that, athletes use both external and internal viewpoints of imagery to an equal extent. External visual imagery have a superior impact on acquisition and performance skills that depends on execution. This is because the images are complex in nature. Internal visual imagery enhance performances of tasks in sport activities. Whereas mental imagery has both tactile, kinesthetic, emotional components in addition to olfactory, spatial and auditory components, kinesthetic imagery enhance performance compared to visual imagery alone. This enables an athlete match timing and sensation of movement with visual image in use. Clinical psychology research dealing with visually impaired athletes proposes that visual pathways and processes play an active role in the perceptual ability and imagery use of an individual. Tactile phenomena for instance, in which visually impaired participants reacts in a visual context when subjected to a tactile inducement promotes sport participation.
Stephen and Kate (2003) made key findings. To begin with, visually impaired athletes utilize mental imagery from an internal standpoint. Secondly, athletes have the ability to use a combination of perspectives and imagery perspectives to enhance mental imagery experience. The problem experienced during the study was that some of the participants lacked knowledge and understanding about the topic of study. This was so because purposive sampling was used, while some of the visually impaired athletes did not have proper understanding of the study topic.
In another study done by Joy, Keziah, David, Phil, Arnold & Peter (2016), Paralympic sports provide an opportunity for visually impaired participants, who are not able to participate in other regular sporting competitions. Rifle shooting for instance, is an ideal sport for visually impaired persons. This because the participants use auditory information to optimize performance. Other findings include; the use of auditory information by visually impaired athletes to optimize performance and a suggestion that Paralympic athletes to compete within same class regardless of different levels of impairment. Joy, et al. (2016) asserts that athletes are classified into groups according to the degree of activity restraint caused by the impairment. Different classes are important since they ensure that visually impaired athletes compete against their equals. Ten elite participants voluntarily took part in the study. The scores for the participants were observed, recorded and analyzed. Significant conclusions were made from the study. The scores did not appear to depend on visual abilities. This raises questions of what might be the factor that impacts on performance. The study suggests use of auditory information as an important aspect in rifle shooting among visually impaired persons. Other factors include aiming accuracy, timing of triggering and stability of hold. Performance entirely rely on athlete’s ability to control anxiety and maintain concentration.
The second question, Joy, et al. (2016) is the level of visual function necessary for an athlete to be able to compete in the sporting activities. That is, the minimum impairment criteria. Visually impaired persons are morally discouraged in sporting activities. This is seen in studies which show that they are dependent on people with sight for support during training. These people are taken on and off the pitch for both training and performance. Also, in order to access training equipment, the visually impaired persons are still become dependent. It is advisable to dwell much on their abilities and not disabilities in order to help them forget about the problem they face in the pitch and to increase their self-confidence. Besides, visually impaired persons are also generally inactive, that is, they are physically slow in their movements, difficulty movement inefficiency, and much consideration to their safety during training (Chen and Lin, 2011). Consequently, visually impaired individuals face difficulty in acquiring their balance, that is, they are not static, and their motor coordination is deficient, as well as inapt muscle tone (Castelli Correia De Campos et al., 2013). This literally means low physical participation in exercises.
However, visually impaired participants find it hard to psychologically cope with their condition during training and field participation. Moreover, they are normally separated from the sighted participants during coaching (Torralba, Vives, Braz ; Nikic , 2015). This is due to the different versions of the gaming. During training, they react to sound and it rather becomes difficult for them to identify the origin of sound. It is advisable to call them by name to bring out the difference between them. Use of key words instead of long sentences when giving instructions is given consideration. Also, the visually impaired participants find it difficult to work independently as advised by the coaches (Greguol, Gobbi ; Carraro, 2014). It is common at times to find that one walks away from them without giving them notice, this irritates them as well since they may end up talking to no one.
In sporting activities, it takes the visually impaired persons quite some time to find themselves equipped to the pitch condition (Chen and Lin, 2011). For example, those who participate in the track events find the sliding/slippery condition of the field very difficult to adapt to. They develop fear that they might develop injuries in instances of falling which in most cases impact their performance negatively (Greguol, Gobbi ; Carraro, 2014). Social environment also affects them psychologically since they do not know their fellows character traits. Social relationship is intense at old age, a time that most of the participants have retired from sporting activities (Karakaya, Aki ; Ergun, 2009). They also suffer a tremendous effect from bad sunlight reducing their competence in completion. Sporting activity is also on the other hand considered as an opportunity to increase social interaction for the visually impaired individuals Sports are used as a way of overcoming disability related stress through socialization as well as by acquiring physical fitness which brings relief to the brain. Considering the findings made from the existing studies, there is need draw a hypothesis that psychological factors impacts greatly visually impaired athletes on training and performance.
To successfully conduct the research, twenty university students who are athletes and visually impaired would be interviewed. Having picked on the right institution to conduct the research, consent will be sought for from both the institution management and the respondents. Purposive sampling method would be used to ensure that only visually impaired individuals knowledgeable about the sporting activities participate in the study. Semi-structured questionnaires seeking to find out psychological problems hindering their training and performance would then be distributed.
Data collection and analysis
Questionnaires given out were to be measured on a scale of S5 which include responses like most likely, likely, neutral, unlikely and most unlikely. The test would be based on attitudes towards visually impaired persons, behavior, self-image, social interactions and assistance.
Findings and discussion
It should be clearly stated from the study that visually impaired athletes appear self-insufficient during training. This is because of their limited visual ability. This lower performance in a competition. An attitude that visually impaired are not worthy participating in Paralympics, or competing against one another with similar impairment discourage the athletes from training, participating in sports, and even lowers performance as well.
Problems and how to address them
The sample size is too small and that may not give accurate results. This problem can be solved by identifying participants with an extensive experience in the topic of study. This will minimise inaccurate responses. Data collection may also be time consuming especially when there is need to move from an institution to the other. This is likely to be countered by carrying out the study where there is a competition, bringing together a group visually impaired elite athletes.
Conclusion and recommendation
There is need to conduct a research on how to reduce the psychological problems that impacts the training and effective performance among visually impaired athletes. This is necessary because little study has been done on the same. Similarly, visually impaired athletes sometimes are discouraged to participate in sporting activities because of the psychological factors which relates to emotions, feelings, attitudes and behaviors.
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