Date of Award

8-9-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

John A. Mills, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor

David J. LaPorte, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Donald U. Robertson, Ph.D.

Abstract

In the quest for peak performance, athletes have traditionally engaged in performance skills training as the primary intervention strategy for enhancing athletic performance. However, mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies have been gaining momentum, particularly becoming the subject of further investigation in sport psychology. The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach for performance enhancement is a seven-week protocol that works to enhance athletes’ nonjudgmental awareness, cultivates experiential acceptance, and improves task-focused attention so that athletes learn they can reach peak performance despite negative internal states (Gardner & Moore, 2004, 2007). This open trial study examined the efficacy of the MAC program in comparison to a matched seven-week psychological skills training program for enhancing athletic performance among 19 collegiate athletes of various sport domains. Based on analysis of variance, results indicated that the groups did not significantly differ, however athletes in the MAC group demonstrated increased mindfulness skills in their ability to describe and to be non-reactive towards their inner experience from pretest to posttest. Moreover, the MAC group demonstrated increased experiential acceptance, particularly describing an increased ability to take action towards their goals. This study provides limited support for the applicability and utility of the MAC program with collegiate athletes. Further research is necessary to better understand the performance-related attributes that may be the underlying cause to athletic performance enhancement, as well as determining the sport specific impact of the MAC program.

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