Mental skill levels of South African male student field hockey players in different playing positions
Research from other sporting codes highlighted the importance of taking positional differences into consideration when developing mental skills training (MST) programmes, due to the different requirements of each playing position. The purpose of this study was to determine the possible positional differences in mental skill levels among 91 tertiary institution male field hockey players. The participants competed in the University Sport of South Africa (USSA) tournament and were categorised into four positional groups [i.e., goalkeepers (n = 12), forwards (n = 24), midfielders (n = 25) and backs (n = 30)]. The participants completed the Ottawa Mental Skills Assessment Tool (OMSAT-3), which measures 12 mental skill subscales. The positional results were compared by means of effect sizes (expressed as Cohen‘s d-value) and yielded 18 moderate and 13 large practical significant differences among the four positional groups. Collectively, these results show that the goalkeepers had the lowest scores for seven of the 12 tested mental skills, whereas the midfielders outperformed the other positional groups in six of the 12 tested mental skills. From the results, it can be concluded that positional demands and differences should be taken into consideration when developing and implementing MST programmes for field hockey players.
Keywords: Mental skills training, positional differences, University Sport of South Africa (USSA), tournament.