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Title: The role of self-control in athletic performance
Authors: Boat, Ruth
Keywords: Self-regulation
Ego depletion
Cycling
Triathletes
Pain tolerance
Growth models
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: © Ruth Boat
Abstract: This thesis is presented as a collection of four studies in which the role of self-control in athletic performance is examined. Considerable evidence has documented the beneficial effects of trait self-control and robust self-confidence on a wide range of behaviours. However, the relationships between these constructs have yet to be specifically explored within the sport domain. As well as exploring the trait perspective of self-control, research has employed self-control manipulations and laboratory performance to examine state self-control. The completion of tasks requiring self-control have led to impaired performance on physical tasks, also requiring self-control. But it remains unclear whether previous exertion of self-control impairs subsequent performance when self-regulation is potentially automatic, and if any observed effects are variable over different stages of performance. Building on this work, glucose supplementation, and the duration of self-control effort have been proposed as potential moderators that may influence performance effects, yet controversy exists surrounding glucose consumption, and task duration has not been appropriately considered. Furthermore, the identification of explanatory mechanisms for performance decrements following self-control use is of theoretical significance. In particular, research is yet to explore whether an individual s perceptions of pain may explain why self-control exertion interferes with subsequent performance on a physical task. The current thesis aims to address these limitations of the extant literature. Study One examined whether an individual s general ability to exert self-control might be an important mechanistic variable that explains the relationship between robust self-confidence and athletic performance. Following an examination of trait self-control, an exploration of state self-control was deemed more relevant to situational performance. Therefore, Study Two and Three utilised a sequential-task paradigm to examine whether exerting self-control impairs subsequent endurance performance in well-trained individuals, and whether any observed effects are variable over different stages of endurance performance. Study Two and Three also examined moderators of the depletion effect. In particular, the potential for glucose supplementation (Study Two), and duration of self-control effort (Study Three), to attenuate any decrements in performance due to initial self-control exertion were explored. Following the investigation of moderators, Study Four examined whether performance decrements can be explained by an individual s perceptions of pain. Overall, the findings of this thesis suggest that trait self-control represents a potentially important mechanism by which athlete s with strong robust self-confidence progress and perform successfully. Furthermore, prior exertion of self-control impairs subsequent self-regulatory efforts during well-practiced endurance performance, but these effects are variable over different stages of performance. In addition, extended self-control effort may lead to the conservation of self-control, whilst glucose supplementation does not moderate self-control ability. Finally, perceptions of pain may explain why self-control exertion interferes with subsequent performance on a physical task.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/23326
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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