n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - The importance of psychological characteristics in potentially talented adolescent long distance runners psychology - : sport psychology

Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Long distance running is a moderate to high-power activity supported by aerobic energy (Ward-Smith, 1999). Apart from the importance of aerobic conditioning, long distance running requires a great deal of mental toughness. The purpose of this study was to compare talented, with less talented distance runners, in order to identify the psychological characteristics exhibited by talented distance runners. A cross-sectional study design was used which consisted of 182 grade 8 pupils: 87 boys and 95 girls. Sport psychological skill levels were measured with the Athletic Copings Skills Inventory (ACSI-28). The Australian Talent Search Protocol was used to identify general sporting talent. The results of the beep test were used to identify the most talented potential distance runners. The top 30% (n=58) of the adolescents were assigned to group 1 (talented group) and the remaining adolescents to group 2 (n=107) (less talented). The results revealed that the talented group obtained significantly better results in 6 of the 8 variables which included adversity, pressure, goal-setting, concentration, coachability and the average coping ability (p<0.05). Moderate practical significance was found in 7 of the 8 variables which included adversity, pressure, goal-setting, concentration, confidence, coachability and coping ability, and a small practical significance was indicated for worry. It is therefore, important to consider psychological skill development in young long distance athletes to enhance their athletic performance.

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