Carli Kugel, “Attention Training for Athletes: A Feasibility Assessment”
Mentors: Han Joo Lee & Maryam Ayazi, Psychology
Many athletes face negative consequences due to performance anxiety. One possible consequence may be how performance anxiety could affect attention negatively. Relevant literature suggests attention bias modification (ABM) as an effective treatment and modification for social-evaluative anxiety, and threat biases. The present study investigated ABM as a feasible therapeutic intervention for athletes who experience performance anxiety in competitive trapshooting. Computerized attention training was specifically utilized. This type of attention training is important because web-based interventions allow for accessible treatment and portability. Athletes recruited for ABM training were between the ages of 12 to 18. Once recruited, participants completed an online consent form, and pre-screening questions. A baseline assessment was then administered which involved questionnaires and AB assessment. A demographic survey and multiple psychological questionnaires assessed demographic information, and other emotional variables pertaining to sport anxiety. Baseline AB assessment was tested by Posner’s Spatial Cueing Task–a computerized attention task. After baseline assessment, participants were randomly assigned to active ABM or ACC (control) condition. There were 8 training sessions across a 4-week span. After the first 4 ABM sessions, midtraining assessment was distributed. After training was complete, a post-training assessment and a one month follow up assessment were provided. A total of 14 participants were recruited, and of these 14 participants, 6 fully completed ABM training. To conclude, this study provides feasibility in ABM training for performance anxiety in athletes. Due to difficulties the athletes faced, such as school workload, and busy schedules, it was difficult for all recruited participants to complete full training, hence a high withdrawal rate. This study can help further future research on performance anxiety in athletes because it provides pilot data which examines the feasibility, and clinical usefulness of ABM as a therapeutic intervention.
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