Using Mental Imagery to Aid in Free Throws in Basketball Essay

Using Mental Imagery to Aid in Free Throws in Basketball Essay

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Many basketball games are decided on whether a team will win or lose by how well they perform at the free throw line. A free throw is the only time where the game is being play and the clock is stopped, players stop, and the ball is in an individual’s hand, with them and the basket. Since there are no defenders trying to block or alter their shot most coaches and spectators wonder what makes someone miss a free throw. Research literature shows that both psychological and physical factors play a role. Many athletes have a different way of approaching the line, but believe that accuracy can vary depending on the situation. A person may perform well on free throws during a game where their performance doesn’t determine the outcome of the game, but when the outcome is decided on their performance they tend to not perform well. There have been a lot of studies on what makes a person “choke” when shooting a free throw at the end of game situations, but there are not a lot of studies on whether the use of imagery can help a player feel less pressure at the line.
Literature Review
Most of the studies conducted show after 20-30 years of research that using imagery could help improve free throw performance. So why aren’t more coaches and players implementing these into their practice or free throw routine before taking the shot? Some may certainly use imagery before they perform their free throw (i.e. taking a deep breathe and exhaling while saying a positive word to themselves), but spectators, players, and coaches are still seeing players miss free throws every game when they know that they can make them perfectly fine in practice. So researchers have looked into why players miss free throws, especially when the game is on the line.

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...use of single-case research design to investigate the efficacy of imagery training. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 8(1), 27-43.
Wang, J., Marchant, D. B., & Morris, T. (2004). Coping style and susceptibility to choking. Journal of Sport Behavior, 27, 75-92.
Wang, J., Marchant, D. B., Morris, T., & Gibbs, P. (2004). Self-consciousness and trait anxiety as predictors of choking in sport. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 7(2), 174-185.
Wine, J. (1971). Test anxiety and direction of attention. Psychological Bulletin, 76, 92-104.
Worthy, D. A., Markman, A. B., & Maddox, W. T. (2009). Choking and Excelling at the Free Throw Line. The International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving, 19(1), 53-58.
Ziegler, Susan G. (1987). Comparison of imagery styles and past experience in skills performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 64, 579-586.

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