Emotions and imagery across a sport season


There is limited research assessing athletes' use of imagery for motivational, and the emotional experience of engaging in imagery has been investigated to an even lesser extent. The purpose of the present study was to examine athletes' use, awareness, and meaning of their imagery, and how this changed across a sport season. Twelve (six male and six female) USport volleyball players participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the Motivational Imagery Ability Measure for Sport (MIAMS, Gregg & Hall, 2006); and the Sport Emotion Questionnaire (SEQ, Jones et al., 2005) were administered at four time points over eight months. The semi-structured interviews asked questions to uncover the meaning and purpose behind the athletes' imagery use and the role of emotion in their imagery. The MIAMS and SEQ were combined so that athletes imaged each scene from the MIAMS and then completed the SEQ indicating how they felt at the moment in response to each scene. Athletes experienced significantly stronger emotions when using motivational general mastery imagery at time 4 compared to time 1; t(9) = -2.25, p = .05, and found it easier to form images related to arousal regulation by the end of the season; t(11) = -2.66, p = .02. Themes that emerged from the interviews include: influences on frequency of imagery use, influences on imagery content, team factors like communication, emotion such as being amped up, and intended outcomes and meaning of imagery including feeling prepared and focused.