Posts tagged Africa
Posts tagged Africa
A range of sub-disciplines of psychology such as sport and exercise psychology, social psychology, and cognitive psychology have long held the common objective of identifying the psychological variables that permit performers to function at their best. Certainly, research on the psychological constructs of motivation (Kim, Williams, & Gill, 2003), self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997), self-regulation (Higgins, 1997; Ryan & Deci, 2000), and attention (Beilock, Carr, MacMahon, & Starkes, 2002) has been conducted across diverse skill domains from sports skills to cognitive tasks in an attempt to elucidate common psychological principles that promote optimal performance in every context of sport and physical activity.
Hamilton (2000) examined empirical evidence for a range of influences that may contribute to East African running dominance including environmental, social, psychological, and physiological variables. After examining research from various disciplines, he concluded that there was no clear explanation for the East African supremacy. However, Hamilton argued that psychological factors may perpetuate this dominance by attributing differences between African and white running performances to stable external factors, thereby disempowering white runners and empowering East African runners.
Regardless of the possible existence of physiological advantages in East African runners, belief that such differences exist creates a psychological atmosphere that can have significant consequences on performance. From my perspective, I can spot the hidden hand of mental skill in these Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes. Their commitment, dedication, hope, discipline, hard working attitude, work ethic and consistency must be based somewhere on the supporting shoulders of mental skill training.
In the case of African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, sport psychology might not be just the scientific way to promote optimal performance, rather according to Jarvie (2006), it might mean survival. Motivation for athletic success may be shaped and influenced by social and cultural forces including living standards. Jarvie (2006, p.374) says, “to a European athlete, an Olympic gold medal is the pinnacle of his or her career; however for an athletes from a developing country it may simply be a gateway to earn money that will transform the lives of the athlete and his or her community”.
I believe it is more than just hoping for a better life. In situations like these, athletic participation also allows children to dream of becoming tomorrow’s sport icon in countries where national identity, pride and honor is so culturally vital and revered.
Thus the need for mental skill training with proper and scientific physical training is unquestionable! As a result, I can say Ethiopian athletes need quality and scientifically based sport psychology just like anyone else.
Generally, sport psychology (mental skills training) has helped people regardless of socioeconomic status, goal specificity, performance level, sport and physical activity. Its ease in application and cost-effectiveness will be especially beneficial where living standards are low, facilities are scarce, and where people rely on athletics as a means of survival.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.
Beilock, S. L., Carr, T. H., MacMahon, C., & Starkes, J. L. (2002). When paying attention becomes counterproductive: Impact of divided versus skill focused attention on novice and experienced performance of sensory motor skills. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 8, 6-16.
Hamilton B. (2000). East African running dominance: what is behind it? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 391–394.
Higgins, E.T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American psychologist, 52, 280-1300.
Javier G. (2006). Sport, culture and society: An introduction. Oxford , England : Routledge
Kane M. (1971). An assessment of ‘‘Black is best.’’ Sports Illustrated, 34, 72–83.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). An overview of self determination theory. In E. L. Deci, & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3-33). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
Likawunt Wendwosen is currently a master’s degree student in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Thessaly (Greece). He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia).