Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I think I can, I think I can
Gretchen Reynolds, NYT, Mar 30, 2011, says Cirque du Soleil did a study of 47 athletes—all professional competitors in gymnastics, trampoline, swimming or diving—and found that those with high “self-efficacy” fared better in the specialized circus feats.
They were given questionnaires first to judge their stress, feelings of competence, and general mood.
They trained 8.5 hours a day—five days a week, for 16 weeks.
More than half sustained an injury severe enough to require a trainer to consult.
Some studies have shown that overconfidence can lead to risk-taking, or the opposite—that low confidence can increase risk.
Low self-efficacy (confidence) in this study seemed to show that the athletes who spent focus worrying and would stumble or fall.
The trainsers at the Cirque said to start small if you are unsure about a move. Concentrate on the process. Watch someone really good do it.
I would add—watch for fallen banana peels.