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Personnel Selection In Athletic Programs

.. axed, extraordinarily aware, and in the cocoon (intense sustained concentration). Bloom (1985) also used an anecdotal approach with both successful swimmers and wrestlers. Almost all of his subjects reported that they were determined to excel, were willing to work hard and had families that were supportive of their endeavors. Bloom suggested that parents helped to generate enthusiasm, motivation and created the opportunities for the children to develop their skills.

Some of the other personal factors that have been identified as being related to the potential to accomplish include perceptions of locus of control, attributional style, self-efficacy, goal-setting ability, and achievement motivation (Singer, 1988). The type of attribution that an athlete makes, the level of self-efficacy that the individual feels and other perceptions have been associated with the motivation to persevere and to achieve. That is to say, the way that an individual explains their performance influences whether they will quit, continue half-heartedly, or persist and achieve. The measurement of psychological variables provides us with important information. However, as we have seen the data is of limited value for prediction purposes if other factors such as physiological variables and prior behavior are not included in the selection decision. Morgan (1980) was the first to consider prior athletic performance in the design of his research.

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As was mentioned earlier, the inclusion of prior performance and physiological characteristics led to a 90% success rate in correctly identifying those individuals selected for a team. Gould, Weiss, and Weinberg (1981) made use of prior athletic performance in the design of their research. They created two groups of wrestlers based on their prior performance in competition: above-average and below-average. Significant differences were found such that the above-average group believed they were closer to achieving their athletic potential, used greater attentional focusing, and had greater self-confidence then the below average group. Heyman’s 1982 research supports the need for inclusion of prior performance in selection decisions as well.

His research with wrestler’s prior to a Big Ten Wrestling Championship suggests that there is a very important relationship between the history of athletes and their later performance. Heyman states that the psychological patterns and cognitions found in other research may reflect previous experience rather than cause or facilitate performance in the athletes; but, performance is a relatively consistent behavior pattern. In his research, prior performance was as powerful a predictor of success as psychological testing. Therefore it is important to consider prior performance in any selection decision. However, it is important to quantify prior performance data in order for it to be of any use in selection programs. Personnel Selection Now that we have identified the KSA’s necessary for success in the field of athletics , it is necessary to design a program that will make use of this information.

The following psychological constructs seem to be most relevant to all competitors: vigor, aggression, leadership, ability to cope with stress, coachability, confidence, social support and positive self concept. In addition, the ability to interact with others seem to be an important psychological skill within the team setting. Because prior performance and physiological data have been found to have such a significant impact on predicting those individuals that eventually qualify for a team, it is important to consider these variables as well. In order to develop a valid selection procedure, it is important to find measures of these constructs that are both reliable and valid. The AMI is one way of assessing the psychological constructs identified above. It is a particularly useful tool since it is designed to measure traits within a sports frame of reference.

With 190 questions, the time necessary to complete is one limitation of this instrument. Another limitation is the lack of research about the instrument’s predictive validity. Additional research would have to be conducted to assess this. Although Morris (1975) did not examine the predictive power of the AMI, she did recognize the importance of gathering additional information to discriminate between successful and unsuccessful individuals. Perhaps the inclusion of a biographical data questionnaire would be of assistance in making selection decisions. Factors that should be considered include previous experience, presence of siblings, and family dynamics.

Such an instrument would have to be developed and validated before it would be of any use in making athletic selection decisions. The POMS seems to be a good instrument for the identification of some of the constructs related to success in sports . Morgan’s (1980) ability to identify those athletes selected to a squad with 90% efficiency indicate that it is a valid and reliable predictor of elite athletes. The identification of the Iceberg Profile is an important step in identifying the KSA’s necessary for success in athletics. However, its perception as a clinical instrument may limit its utility. It is important that only the POMS that has been adapted for use in the field of athletics be considered for athletic program selection.

In addition, the length of time necessary to complete the questionnaire is not very long and make it more readily acceptable for use with applicants to the athletic program. Finally, it is important to note that Morgan used information from the POMS as well as prior performance and physiological data to make predictions. Considering Heyman’s 1982 research, inclusion of prior performance data would improve the reliability and validity of selection decisions. For team sports, the inclusion of the TAIS might be useful in assessing how an individual will interact with others. After all, a team won’t be very successful if the members are unable to get along. Again, the lack of research concerning the instrument’s predictive validity limits its use for selection decisions.

Because the AMI includes coachability and conscience development scales, it may be more appropriate for use within the field of athletics. Research needs to be conducted to assess the ability of the instrument to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful athletes. As we have seen, prior athletic performance is a powerful predictor of athletic success. It is important to develop a means for quantification of an individual’s prior performance in order to make appropriate selection decisions. Many coaches will have already identified the physical KSA’s they consider to be most important in recruits.

However, mechanical approaches for selection decisions that make use of quantified data are more effective than judgmental approaches in identifying those individual with the necessary KSA’s to succeed. Development of a weighted application blank that measures these abilities would result in an increase in the reliability of selection decisions. Of course, this would need to be empirically validated before it could be used. Reviewing coach’s records of prior recruits may provide most of this information thus facilitating the validation process. In summary, it appears that a selection program that takes into account psychological variables, biographical data and prior performance would be both a valid and reliable predictor of athletic success. Singer (1988) supports this notion recommending that psychological tests not be used as the only basis for determining team membership. This information can be useful in understanding athletes and their potential strength’s and limitations.

A battery of composite tests is recommended that measures skill level, tactical knowledge, morphology, body composition, physical condition and attributes, and psychological attributes. Quantification of these constructs would be necessary in order to make a decision. Validation of the process would be an important final step in the development of a selection program for the field of athletics. Conclusions Because the field of athletics has become so competitive, it has become increasingly important to make appropriate selection decisions in order to be successful. This paper has demonstrated the importance of considering psychological variables, prior performance and physiological data in selection decisions. Although Morgan’s 1980 research had short-term prediction as its goal, it demonstrated the power of a program that takes into account all three of these variables. One can only speculate that in the future, the attention that is given to sports will continue to grow.

The pressure to succeed will leave many athletic directors and general managers looking for any edge that they can gain over their competition. One way of doing this will be to make accurate selection decisions. Therefore, researchers in the field should attempt to validate a selection process outlines in this paper which include psychological, physiological and prior performance data. Bibliography References Bloom, B.S. (1985). Developing talent in young people.

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Peak performance: Mental training of the world’s greatest athletes. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher. Gould, D., Weiss, M., & Weinberg, R. (1981). Psychological characteristics of successful and non-successful Big Ten wrestlers.

Journal of Sport Psychology, 3, 69-81. Heyman, S. R. (1982). Comparisons of successful and unsuccessful competitors: A reconsideration of methodological questions and data.

Journal of Sports Psychology, 4, 295-300. Highlen, P. S., & Bennett, B. B. (1979). Psychological characteristics of successful and nonsuccessful elite wrestlers: An exploratory study. Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 123-137. Mahoney, M.J., & Avener, M.

(1977). Psychology of the elite athlete: An exploratory study. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1, 135-141. Meyers, A. W., Cooke, C.

J., Cullen,, J., & Liles, C. (1979). Psychological aspects of athletic competitors: A replication across sports. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 3, 361-366. Morgan, W. P.

(1980). Test of champions: The iceberg profile. Psychology Today, 14, 92-99, 102, 108. Morris, L. D.

(1975). A socio-psychological study of highly skilled women field hockey players. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 6, 134-147. Nideffer, R. M., & Sharpe, R. C.

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Singer, R. N. (1988). Psychological testing: What value to coaches and athletes? International Journal of Sports Psychology, 19, 87-106. Thesis and Dissertations.


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