A Psychological Skills Training Program for Dancers : Evaluation of the Dancers’ Use of Psychological Skills Training Techniques and Possible Effects of the Program
Aim: The aim of this study was to implement a psychological skills training program for dancers and evaluate the dancers’ use of psychological skills training techniques, and possible effects of the course. Specifically, the present study examined: 1) to what extent the dancers were using psychological skills training techniques; 2) whether a short course in psychological skills training for dancers made any difference to their use of psychological skills training techniques; 3) whether differences existed between groups of dancers regarding year at the dance academy, previous education in psychological skills training, and attendance; 4) the dancers’ response to psychological skills training during the course.
Method: 51 dancers (45 female and six male aged 18-26 years) at a dance academy in Sweden participated in the study. The course in psychological skills training stretched over four months with four to six lessons. A shortened version of the Test of Performance Strategies was completed by the dancers at the first and last lesson. Descriptive statistics, one-way between-groups analysis of variance (ANOVA), and paired-samples t-tests were used to analyze the data. Memoing was practised to document the dancers’ direct response to the course.
Results: The dancers used self-talk, emotional control, goal setting, imagery, activation, and attentional control “sometimes” in connection with their dance practice, whereas relaxation was used “rarely”. The total score for the dancers’ use of psychological skills training techniques only showed a marginal increase between pre- and post-intervention data. The only statistically significant difference found was an increase in the scores for relaxation. No statistically significant difference was found between groups regarding total score. The results from the memoing indicated that active participation during the lessons resulted in a more positive attitude towards psychological skills training, and that the dancers used different vocabulary regarding psychological skills training. The dancers also expressed difficulties implementing psychological skills training techniques on their own outside the classroom.
Conclusions: The dancers in the present study had very similar scores on the questionnaire compared to athletes in previous research. For future research it would be of interest to see if a longer psychological skills training program for dancers, or a course with higher intensity, could further facilitate the dancers’ use of psychological skills training techniques, as well as integrate psychological skills training more in their dance practice. The results from this study could provide valuable information for further development of a psychological skills training program for dancers and might serve as a guide for areas that could benefit from extra attention in order to help dancers evolve both professionally and personally.
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