Psychological momentum has been defined as added or gained psychological powers that give the person or team a feeling that they have an edge over the opponent. PM is still not a well-known concept in sports psychology but several theories have been presented to help explain this phenomenon.
The antecedent-consequence model of psychological momentum explains that PM refers to the athlete being aware that they are striding towards their goals. The awareness of achieving their goals strengthens the level of motivation, sense of control, confidence, optimism, energy and synchronism. This awareness is influenced by personal factors such as skill level, motivation and anxiety levels, and situational factors such as spectators and the magnitude of the game. The model also explains that in order for these factors to happen, there has to be a perception of control.
Another theory widely used is the multidimensional model of momentum. The model postulates that there are several elements that lead to the “momentum chain”. First, a precipitating event occurs such as a big block in volleyball. The effect of the block depends on the athlete perception of the game, confidence and self-efficacy. These perceptions lead to changes in cognition, physiology and effect, which influences changes in behavior and performance, and culminates in an immediate change in outcome. The model also indicates that experience and opponent are important factors. Athletes with experience are more able to control and understand momentum due to their knowledge of the game, mitigating the effect of momentum. As for the opponent factor, performance and outcome factors can only be influenced when the opponent experiences negative momentum as a result of the precipitating events.
How does a player get momentum?
- Have a game plan – Establish your goals and strategies to help you attain these goals.
- Expect the unexpected – They might be bad calls, unwarranted mistakes, weather changes etc. When the unexpected happens control your emotions. Do not let these changes interfere with your goals, stick to the game plan and adapt accordingly.
- Take it one play at a time – Be in the moment, in the state of flow, and do not worry about situations that have happened or are going to happen.
References Available from the SIRC Collection:
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2. HUGHES M, BÜRGER P, HUGHES M, MURRAY S, JAMES N. Profiling in sport using momentum and perturbations. Journal Of Human Sport & Exercise [serial online]. July 2013;8(2):S242-S260.
3. Mack M, Stephens D. An Empirical Test of Taylor and Demick's Multidimensional Model of Momentum in Sport. Journal Of Sport Behavior. December 2000;23(4):349.
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