Sport psychological skill levels and related psychosocial factors that distinguish between rugby union players of different participation levels
The purpose of this study was to compare 60 top ranked and 60 lower ranked u/19 rugby union players from the PUK Rugby Institute (18.78 ± 0.28 years). Results show slight differences regarding previous consultations with sport psychologists, perceived importance of and need for psychological skills training sessions and the players' perceived ability to be psychologically well prepared for competitions. Effect size results (indicating practical significance) show that the top ranked players perceive psychosocial factors such as team members/team spirit, coaches, and financial aspects as significantly more positive (d ≥ 0.4) than the lower ranked players, while they are also significantly better (d ≥ 0.4) at fitting in with new team members, settling in with coaches and adapting to change in general. The top ranked players also showed significantly greater self-confidence (d ≥ 0.4), personal coping resources, coping with adversity, average psychological skills and activation control scores than their lower ranked counterparts, stressing the important role of sport psychological skills towards rugby performance. It can be concluded that sport psychological skill levels and related psychosocial factors can distinguish between rugby union players of different participation levels. Results are discussed in reference to practical implications for future sport psychological skills training programmes.
Keywords: Sport psychological skills; Performance; Rugby union.
South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol. 29 (1) 2007: pp. 1-15