Psychosocial profile of South African school netball players
Since 1995, South Africa has experienced a decline in netball performance, with many players not progressing beyond participation at secondary school level. It is increasingly becoming apparent that psychosocial skills are as important as physical and technical skills in improving athletic performance and motivation in competitive situations. In this study, the psychosocial profiles of 410 netball players from 38 schools across South Africa were assessed and analysed. The netball players ranged from ages 11 years to 19 years with a mean age of 14.26 (SD = 2.14) years. The participants were asked to complete three questionnaires, namely: the Task- and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ), the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT) and the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ). Significant differences in levels of competitive anxiety and social cohesion across different age groups were found, with younger athletes having lower levels of anxiety and higher levels of social cohesion. The results of this study have significant implications for the practice of sports psychology in South Africa and interventions for young netball players, as well as the understanding of the development of mental skills for youth in sporting contexts. The authors conclude that a focus on improving mental and psychosocial skills for netball players at secondary school level could lead to improved psychological skills and performance at higher levels of participation.
Keywords: Team cohesion, anxiety, task- and ego orientation, netball, secondary schools