Authors: Gulsum Bastug * (1), Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences, Turkey.
Gulsum Bastug, PhD
Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences
(1) Gulsum Bastug, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences is a doctoral professor. She works in the field of exercise and sports psychology.
Investigation of Attention, Concentration and Mental Toughness Properties in Tennis, Table Tennis, and Badminton Athletes
The aim is to examine the attention, concentration, and mental toughness characteristics of tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes. A total of 61 athletes participated in the study, with a mean age of 21.18 ± 2.96, playing tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The Concentration Endurance Test (d2 attention test) developed by Brickenkamp (1966) was used to determine the level of attention of the athletes participating in the study. The Letter Cancellation Task, developed by Kumar and Telles (2009), was used to determine the concentration level, and Sheard et al. (2009) developed the “Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire-SMTQ-14”. In the Analysis of Data, the ANOVA test was used to identify differences between groups, and Tukey Honest Significant Difference (HSD) analysis was used to determine which branches were different. As a result; concentration performance was significantly different between the groups. It was determined that tennis athletes were more successful in concentration performance than table tennis and badminton athletes.
Keywords: Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton, Attention, Concentration, Mental Toughness.
Attention is the essential key element to control opinion processes, concentrate on a duty, and show an effective performance in sport (25). Attention is a basic component of the human data processing system. Since human beings cannot process all relevant information at once, human capacity is described to be a limited system. Attention is necessary for providing information to a processor in this limited capacity (13). Concentration is defined as the mental effort that one is willing to put on the most important thing in any situation (24). Concentration is the ability to focus on relevant environmental cues (32). A high-concentration athlete tries to do his job in the best way, speeds up the new skills learning process, increases self-confidence, controls stress and anxiety in the high levels of experience, and focuses on the factors that are in control (16). The internal factors that influence concentration are the athlete’s negative thoughts, fears, sadness, and worries. External factors are; umpire decisions, spectators, competitor athletes, weather conditions, and media (34). Mental toughness is defined by the concepts such as coping with pressure and difficulties effectively, recovery after failures, challenge, being insistent and not giving up, competition with its own and others, being unaffected or flexible in adverse situations, having a firm belief in taking control of their future, show improvement under pressure, and having a superior mental skill (11, 23, 20, 8, 18, 17, 30, 22, 33). Anaerobic capacity is the forefront of tennis and coordination, speed, and power are the most important components (12). As with other racket sports, badminton has short-term maximal or cumulative loads and short rest periods. In such sports branches, besides speed, strength, coordination, reaction, perception, game skills, and technique (4), high aerobic capacity is required to be able to move continuously and quickly (15). Hereby, the aim of this study is to examine the attention, concentration, and mental toughness of tennis, badminton, and table tennis athletes.
In this study, the identified scientific data, it is important to be able to contribute to the success of the coaches and sportsmen. Attention, concentration, and mental toughness characteristics are known to be important components of athletic performance. The aim is to examine the attention, concentration, and mental toughness characteristics of athletes, tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes by considering the physical and mental stability of the athlete in the tennis, table tennis, and badminton sports branches. For this purpose, the following questions will be answered:
- How do the scales, used in the research, show a distribution?
- Are there differences in attention, concentration, and mental endurance performances in tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes?
This study is important for tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes to contribute to their attention, concentration, and mental endurance studies. It is important in terms of providing reference to the work done in the field of sports sciences.
Population and Sample
A total of 61 athletes participated in the study, with a mean age of 21.18 ± 2.96, playing tennis (n: 21), badminton (n: 20) and table tennis (n: 20). The Concentration Endurance Test (d2 attention test) developed by Brickenkamp (1966) was used to determine the level of attention of the athletes participating in the study. The Letter Cancellation Task, developed by Kumar and Telles (2009), determined the concentration level, and Sheard et al. (2009) developed the “Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire-(SMTQ-14)”.
Data Collection Tool
The d2 Attention Test: Developed by Brickenkamp (1966) and adapted to Turkish by Caglar and Koruc (2006), was used to determine d2 attention test. It was passed through various revisions in the following years. The aim of the test is to evaluate the ability of constant attention and visual screening (29). The d2 Test is a measure of selective attention and mental concentration. The “attention and concentration” structure in the test manual was used as a performance-oriented, continuous, and focused choice of a stimulant (7). On the front page of the test, there is a section where the researcher can record personal information and performance results and an exercise track. On the back page, there is a standard test form. The test page consists of 14 rows, each of which has 47 signs. Each row contains 16 letters consisting of the letters “p” and “d” with one, two, three, and four small signs. During the test, the subject has to ignore other unrelated letters to find the letters “d” with two signs and to scan the rows to draw on them. The subject is given 20 seconds for each row. It can be applied individually or as a group (6, 7, 29).
The Concentration Measurement; Letter Cancellation Task as used by Kumar and Telles (2009) were used to measure the level of concentration in participants. The task consisted of a block of randomly placed letters in 14 columns and 22 rows with six assigned letters listed at the top of the page which participants were required to cancel within the block in 90 seconds. Scores of concentration on the Letter Cancellation Task were calculated by counting the number of correctly canceled letters within the grid. This score represented the speed and accuracy of the participants’ completion, and therefore their concentration level (21).
The Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire-(SMTQ); in order to determine the level of mental toughness in the sports environment, SMTQ-14 which was developed by Sheard et al. (2009), consists of 14 items. In addition to the general mental stability, the scale consisting of three sub-dimensions (Confidence, Continuity, and Control) is in the 4-point Likert type (1 = False, 4 = Fully True). The Cronbach Alpha values for the subscales of the original scale were 0.81 for the confidence subscale; 0.74 for the continuity sub-dimension; and 0.71 for the control subscale. There are three sub-dimensions in Mental Durability Inventory in Sport: Confidence: It is believing in talents to reach the goal in challenging situations and thinking better than competitors (Articles 1, 5, 6, 11, 13, 14). Control: It is becoming cool and comfortable under pressure or unexpected situations (Articles 2, 4, 7, 9). Continuity: It is taking responsibility, concentrating, and struggling in the direction of the specified objectives (Articles 3, 8, 10, 12), (27, 28).
Collected data were saved in the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 22.0 program. The Analysis of Data (ANOVA) test was used to identify differences between groups, and Tukey (HSD) analysis was used to determine which branches were different.
In the findings of the study, for tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes, information on the mean values of attention, concentration, mental toughness, and whether there is significance between the groups is given.
Table 1. Investigation of the attention, concentration, and mental toughness level of tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes participating in the research according to their branches.
According to the findings; attention (tennis: 514.48 ± 97.37, table tennis: 521.45 ± 69.45, badminton: 531.70 ± 61.08) and mental toughness performance (tennis: 32.46 ± 3.27, table tennis: 34.40 ± 4.83, badminton: 35.55 ± 3.34). There were no significant differences between the groups (p> 0.05). However, concentration performance (tennis: 39.38 ± 7.55, table tennis: 36.20 ± 10.16, badminton: 29.20 ± 10.93) was significantly different between the groups (p <0.05). It was determined that tennis athletes were more successful in concentration performance than table tennis and badminton athletes.
In this study where the performance of attention, concentration, and mental toughness of tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes were investigated; attention and mental toughness performance in tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes, did not differ significantly between groups (p> 0.05). However, according to the average performance of attention and mental toughness of the groups, the researchers can say that badminton athletes’ attention and mental toughness performance is better than tennis and table tennis athletes. It is believed that the reason for not having significant differences between groups in attention and mental toughness performance is that the number of athletes participating in the research is low and the athletes are caused by various uncontrollable variables such as fatigue and nutrition status. According to the research, it has been determined that mental toughness can be changed for each specificity and be influenced by different dynamics (19, 8). According to the study of the level of mental toughness of tennis and basketball athletes, tennis athletes’ mental toughness was found to be better than basketball athletes’ (9). The 9-12 age group of badminton training program has been determined to improve the motor skills of children and to improve their reaction time (26).
It was determined that concentration performance of tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes showed a significant difference between groups (p<0.05). According to the concentration performance averages, the researchers can say that the concentration performance of tennis athletes is better than table tennis and badminton athletes (Table 1). In the study of the reaction time and balance relation in badminton athletes, no significant relationship was found between the visual and auditory reaction times of the athletes and the dynamic balance scores (2). In a study conducted on the development of positive attention and concentration of table tennis sport, regular table tennis exercises were applied to 9-13-years-old students and after eight weeks, table tennis exercises showed positive improvement in the attention values of the group (3). It was observed that table tennis, badminton, and tennis athletes have different sensing times. It was observed that tennis athletes have a better sensing time when the flow rate of caution was slow; badminton athletes have a better sensing time when the flow rate of caution was middle; table tennis athletes have a better sensing time when the flow rate was high (1). In the study where attention and imagination performance of badminton athletes were investigated, there was a significant relationship between imagery and attention for badminton athletes. When capacity for motivational specific imagery rises, attention capacity rises in athletes. When athletes win the match or perform well, they imagine to be appreciated (Motivational Specific Imagery), this positively affects attention capacity (5). Tennis players' sub dimensions of structural style, future perception, social ability and psychological resilience are better than basketball players'. Psychological resilience of tennis and basketball players is not affected by chronological age and sport age (9). Tennis and table tennis athletes affect physical and motor characteristics at a different level based on the size of playing field, games in said disciplines, duration of games as well as the materials used in these games (14). Tywan (31) indicated that coordination training program help athletes to learn and perform the forehand and backhand tennis skills better. These findings confirmed the researchers work.
As a result; there was no significant difference in attention performance between tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes. However, when the average values are taken into consideration, it was determined that badminton athletes’ attentive performance is better than tennis and table tennis athletes. When tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes were examined in terms of the concentration performance, there was a significant difference between the groups. This significant correlation between the concentration values of tennis and badminton athletes is favored by tennis athletes. The concentration performance of tennis athletes was better than badminton and table tennis athletes. There was no significant difference in mental toughness performance between tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes. However, according to the mean values, badminton athletes’ mental toughness performance was found to be better than tennis and table tennis athletes. Badminton athletes are better at attention and mental toughness performance than tennis athletes. The common feature of the athletes participating in the survey is to do racket sports. Variables such as racket and ball, playing field, playing time used in tennis, table tennis and badminton sports branches are thought to affect the attention, concentration and mental toughness scores of athletes.
It is suggested that attention, concentration, and mental toughness tests be carried out increasing the number of athletes and studying by considering different variables such as sleep, nutrition, and fatigue. The major problem the researchers faced in this study is the limited similar work in which the performance of attention, concentration, and mental endurance in tennis, table tennis, and badminton athletes are investigated. The results of this research, it is recommended that the athletes be used in training programs to develop attention, concentration, and mental endurance skills.
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