The effects of different amounts of mental practice on the performance of a motor skill were studied. Research supports the effectiveness of mental practice on performance; however, little is known about how much practice is needed and whether there is an optimal amount for these practice effects. Participants, 209 students ages 18 to 44 years (M=20.5, SD=2.9), completed a pre- and posttest of dart throwing with the nonpreferred hand. In the practice phase, participants completed either 25 (Mental Practice 25), 50 (Mental Practice 50), or 100 (Mental Practice 100) trials of the darts task or 50 trials of a catching task (Catching Task). Performance for all groups improved from pre- to posttest. Improvements for the three mental practice groups were greater than for the Catching Task group; however, there were no differences for the three Mental Practice groups. The findings support the positive effect of mental practice over a control condition and suggest that small amounts of mental practice may be sufficient for performance improvements, at least for a simple motor skill.
Perceptual-cognitive skills and decision-making in sport have typically been explored using videobased protocols in settings where participants are not exposed to the type of competitive pressures that characterise a game situation. Consequently, this study aimed to investigate the influence of competitive pressure, or competitive anxiety, on decision-making accuracy. Seventy-seven (Male=44, Female=33) undergraduate students with mean age of 20.16 years (SD = 3.18) were randomly assigned to an experimental (n=56) or control group (n=21) and completed a video–based perceptual decision-making test of 25 temporally occluded offensive soccer plays. Participants in the experimental group completed the test with and without competitive pressure conditions. Pressure was manipulated by introducing a competition for a monetary prize. Participants in the control condition completed the test twice without competition. All participants completed a state anxiety measure prior to each test. The competition produced significantly higher cognitive anxiety than no competition; however, this was not reflected in any significant differences in decisionmaking accuracy. Although not statistically significant, more experienced performers tended to score more accurately with competitive pressure.