Those of us in the first year cohort of the Masters Sport and Performance Psychology program have been talking a lot about imagery this week. Keller, Bella and Koch examined a unique type of imagery in 2010 through their study on the effects of anticipatory auditory imagery on movement timing and kinematics. The researchers investigated the effects of this type of imagery by having musicians produce short sequences of taps on vertically aligned keys at a tempo set by “lead-in” pacing signals (Keller, Belle, & Koch, 2010). The authors found that timing was more accurate, movement amplitudes were larger, and acceleration towards the target key was greater in the silent condition compared to the conditions where taps triggered tones. In other words, auditory feedback did increase the musicians’ accuracy; however, it decreased the overall force of the movement.
I thought of my own sport and how this research article might apply to figure skaters in general. Since skaters perform routines to music every time they compete, this idea of anticipatory auditory imagery definitely applies. For example, when the athletes are doing their pre-performance routines they might have headphones on with their music playing to prompt their walkthrough of the routine. In the United Skates Figure Skating Association, the skaters are not allowed to have words in their music. So instead of listening to words or human sounds to prompt oneself for a jump or spin, the athlete instead listens to certain tones and frequency changes in the music.
This article challenged me to think outside of the box on how this can relate to sport and performance psychology. After sitting with these take away messages from the current research, I wondered how this idea of auditory anticipatory imagery might help track and field athletes who often rely on the blow of a whistle or shot of a gun to start an important race. As we have seen in class, athletes can often ‘jump the gun’ and anticipate that sound too soon which can cost them the entire Olympic Games in some cases. I am eager to hear what my classmates think can be implied from these findings towards our field and the potential clients we will work with in the future.