Can Self-Doubt Be Beneficial to Performance? Exploring the Concept of Preparatory Efficacy

Posted on 16 Dec 2009 15:36

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By Deborah L. Feltz, Jared M. Wood
Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA


Sport competition can be divided into a preparatory (practice) and performance (competition) process. Self efficacy beliefs taken just prior (i.e., within 24 hr or after a final practice session) to the actual competition are referred to as performance efficacy beliefs; whereas, efficacy beliefs measured during the preparation or practice stage are referred to as preparatory efficacy beliefs. Consistent with the vast majority of efficacy research, Bandura [1] suggests that high performance efficacy perceptions are best for performance. In contrast, he suggests that preparatory efficacy perceptions should optimally reflect some sense of self-doubt because they serve as an impetus that motivates increased preparatory effort. Ultimately, greater preparatory effort should lead to stronger competitive performance. Despite Bandura's observations of this process at work, no empirical studies have examined preparatory efficacy perceptions, preparatory effort, performance efficacy, and performance across a single preparation-competition process. This article examines the concept of preparatory efficacy, existing experiential and empirical support for the concept, and finally, suggestions, applications, and implications for future research.

Self-Efficacy: Performance Versus Preparatory

In self-efficacy theory applied to sports, Bandura [1] distinguishes between the concepts of preparatory efficacy and performance efficacy. Although both are measures of one’s self-efficacy regarding an upcoming athletic performance, as Feltz, Short, and Sullivan [2] note, the concepts differ in timing of measurement. Preparatory efficacy is measured during the preparation (i.e. practice) phase of competition [1]; whereas, performance efficacy is measured immediately prior to, or as close as possible to, the start of the actual competitive performance (see Fig. 1). Thus far, most research has used performance efficacy as the selfefficacy measure or has failed to differentiate between the two concepts. As Bandura argues, this may be an important oversight, because the timing of the efficacy measurement may have important implications for proximal behavior. The remainder of this article addresses a brief overview of what is known about performance efficacy, the differences between performance efficacy and preparatory efficacy, existing evidence of preparatory efficacy, and considerations for research on the concept.

The Open Sports Sciences Journal, 2009, Volume 2
®2009 Bentham Open

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Last updated 23 Feb 2015 18:27

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