Psychological skills development in professional and amateur golfers
This study aimed to compare psychological skills used by professional and amateur golfers during competition and training, and to differentiate psychological skill development based on experiences in psychological skills training. A total of 150 golfers (18–49 years) were recruited and divided into professional and amateur groups. Their psychological skills were collected by using the Test of Performance Strategies Questionnaire and analyzed by Mann-Whitney U test and Wilcoxon matched pairs signed-ranks test. Results showed that when compared to professional golfers, amateur golfers showed significantly higher score of imagery and relaxation during both training and competition, as well as higher scores of goal setting during training and higher score of negative thinking during competition (p < .05). With competition, professional golfers had significantly greater scores of goal setting and activation (p < .05) but lower scores of automaticity, imagery, attentional control, and negative thinking than in training (p < .05). Similarly, amateur golfers performed activation technique significantly higher during the competition but less goal setting as compared with those during training (p < .05). From an in-depth interview, both experienced and inexperienced golfers showed similar approaches for psychological skills development. It seemed that experienced golfers could achieve a better score when practicing psychological skills training including breathing control, imagery, relaxation, positive thinking and talking, pre-shot routine and focus on the ball at impact. These techniques are suggested for inexperienced golfers or beginners to improve their performance.