n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - An exploration of the perceptions of spiritual rituals among elite players and coaches associated with religiosity or psychological variables psychology - : sport psychology

Volume 21 Number 1.1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not the spiritual rituals perceptions among coaches and elite players were associated with religiosity or psychological factors. The study involved 120 randomly students; six teachers and principals, respectively, from six selected special schools in Amathole district. Both qualitative and quantitative methodological research designs were used in the study. Data collection involved questionnaires, interviews and participant observation. This study adopted a modified version of Duke Religion Index (DRI) questionnaire. The questionnaire was translated to IsiXhosa because most of the schools use IsiXhosa as their medium of instruction. The interview consisted of structured open ended and close-ended questions. The results show that 27.8% of the respondents did not use rituals during training, 14% were 'not sure' 58.3% agree to use rituals during training sessions for various reasons including belief in God, protection against injury, psychological energising, and preparing for winning competitions. The team observed rituals before the start of all the matches; during the matches which were half time breaks 2/3 of the time they prayed and after matches they prayed for 1/3 of the time. A team and players would only take rituals seriously a few minutes before competitions especially a few minutes before game start. The tendency to use rituals increases with winning demand or pressure on team and for players to perform well. About 50% of the respondents disagreed to the use of rituals during and after the games. Likewise a summed total of 40.3% agreed to the use of rituals during and after game while, 9.7% were indifferent. The use of spiritual rituals among penalty takers elicited responses as follows: 31.7% disagreed, 59.9%agreed while 7.9% were undecided. The association between the practice of spiritual rituals and the effect on taking of penalty (Chi-square value=36.092, df=15; p<0.002) indicates that soccer players use spiritual rituals during penalty kicks. The result shows that spiritual rituals are used by players to boost their confidence during soccer competitions (52.8%). On the contrary, 47.2% of the respondents objected to the use of spiritual rituals for boosting confidence during soccer competitions including penalty kicks. About 34.7% agreed that they practised rituals to remove fear, while 65.3% disagreed. Players (4.2%) admit they practised ritual because others are doing it, while 95% holds an opposite view. The results show that 58% of the respondents agreed that they were practicing spiritual rituals as means of protection from injuries while 41.7% did not agree with the reason. Also, the players (52.7%) use spiritual rituals for intervention to win in soccer competitions, while 47.3% disagreed. Yet, others (9.7%) have no reason for practicing spiritual rituals in competition, while 90.3%dissociated themselves from the statement suggesting that they did have a reason for observing rituals in soccer competition. Soccer players used rituals for many reasons related to the game. These include psychological preparation (no injury, winning, remove fear), personal religious beliefs and no reason because others in the team were using them. On whether coaches and elite players' uses spiritual rituals in competitive soccer in the light of spirituality or psychological means of increasing the soccer competitive outcomes, the responses from the open ended questions were inductively clustered to anxiety/Fear, lack of confidence, pressure and skill. During the interviews, soccer coaches were asked to explain the use of rituals in their team. Majority of respondents (57.1%) used rituals for psychological/motivational interventions. The use of spiritual rituals by both coaches and elite players appears to be related to psychological intervention purposes rather than for religion observances. The use of spiritual rituals in sports is more of psycho-social interventions than spirituality of religion.Soccer players used rituals for many reasons related to the game. These include psychological preparation (no injury, winning, and remove fear), personal religious beliefs and no reason, because others in the team were using them.

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