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Cognitive, emotional, and behavioural factors associated with tapering

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Max Stone


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Before major competitions swimmers taper to remove fatigue and aid performance. Despite considerable research examining taper, little is known around coaches and swimmers psychological experience of taper. Fifteen current or former high-performance swimmers (N =9) and swim coaches (N =6) were interviewed about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours before, during, and after taper. Data were thematically analysed. Results reveal coaches are striving for performance excellence in taper by developing and evaluating competition readiness. Competition readiness is a state whereby the swimmer is performing optimally. Competition readiness is developed by creating the right taper environment and ‘fine-tuning’ training to each swimmer. Comparatively, swimmers attempt to maintain positive performance expectations by analysing their swim times, ‘feel’, and reflecting on previous tapers and training. Swimmers self-assessment during taper can reassure them of their capabilities or causes performance doubts which they remedy through various coping mechanisms. Finally, a coach-swimmer symbiosis is present in taper, where swimmers and coaches analyse one another’s behaviour. Concluding, coaches create an optimal performance environment in taper which promotes, technical, physiological and psychological excellence. Swimmers may be at greater risk of developing anxiety due performance analysis and coaches are experiencing unique stressors during taper, which may affect training delivery.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stone MJ, Knight CJ, Hall R, Shearer C, Shearer DA

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand Annual Conference

Year of Conference: 2018

Print publication date: 27/10/2018

Online publication date: 27/10/2018

Acceptance date: 05/09/2018