Metacognitionin Athletes Past surveys about metacognition address the skills ofmetacognition, which include planning, self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection,effort, and self-motivation. For many student athletes, metacognition is ataught skill, and does not come naturally.1Rather, it develops over time through deliberate training as coaches teachathletes to develop the self-monitoring skills that can enable them to analyzeand understand their own behavior. In her article “Metacognition andCoaching: How to Develop a Thinking Athlete,” Teresa Dail writes, “Many athletes will not reflect on their own level ofunderstanding with regard to strategies, nor will they accurately considertheir own level of skill. Also, Noel Brick argues that metacognitive skillsallow athletes to enhance our self-regulation during endurance exercise. Noel and Brick have conducted interviews of runners.
Therefore, carefully worded prompts and planned interactions during practicecan help the athletes detect their own errors and also heighten awareness oftheir level of performance.”2 In order to master metacognition, athletes in different sportsare taught to practice its skills before, during or after a test; training fora competition; or the competition itself. Athletesconcentrate mostly on the quality of their performance and improvementstrategies, self-motivation, the effects of success, and how feelings ofanxiety, nervousness, or enjoyment affect how they think about their ownthinking. Because athletes reflect on their performanceduring different stages, they can reflect on their performances, plan forsuccesses, actively think about their performances during the performances, andregister enjoyment or pride in their performances.3 Linking the steps of metacognition with the different times inwhich athletes practice them can help coaches and players to differentiatebetween talented athletes and expert, or semi-professional, athletes.
Expert athletes registerhigher metacognitive function and are able to demonstrate the componentprocesses of forward planning, self-monitoring, evaluation, andreflection (Dail). Metacognition requires athletes to consciously andunconsciously consider the ways in which they can accomplish a set of taskswith a desired outcome.4That means that most (lower level) athletes are highly dependent on theircoaches to think for them. As was previously stated numerous times in thiswork, elite athletes are able to show more developed metacognitive skills.According to Teresa K.
Dail, the degree to which athletes assume ownership overtheir actions helps determine their success. For coaches, evaluating athletes’performance is “a critical part of the metacognitive process,”but athletes are limited by the fact that they “see themselves the same way asstudents see themselves in a classroom. That is, they believe that their roleis to just show up and follow the teacher’s or coach’s daily plan ofactivities.”5 Athletic success increases when athletes take ownership oftheir performance and assume agency for their actions, using metacognition toevaluate their outcomes and adjust their behaviors or practice accordingly. Ibelieve that in order to enhance progress, athletes must take more control ofthe situation, for example, self-planning.
According to Noel Brick, higherlevel athletes managed their time mostly by themselves while taking advice fromcoaches: “Most athletes planned other cognitive strategy use (i.e. other thanrace objectives, 18 tactics and pacing by themselves or with their coach, whilethree athletes reported planning 19 cognitive strategies with a psychologist.”6Coaches are responsible for asking athletes questions thattrigger their reflection. For example, they might ask, ‘Why did we allow theopposing team to out-rebound us?’ or ‘What do we need to do to avoid so anypenalties in the next half?'”7 These prompts teach athletes to regulate their own memory andenhance their awareness of their performance and the factors contributing totheir performance. In education, specifically reading, teachers rely on”reading flexibility” to train student readers so that they can”adjust their processing behaviors, to effectively meet demands of theirpurpose for reading, and this regulation and knowledge of these cognitiveprocesses may result in ‘the outwardly observable behaviors that reading educatorscall flexibility.
‘”8 Similarly, by asking students to think independently, coaches(like teachers) can encourage athletes to strategize on their own and planindependently, which regulates their performance. Hope J. Hartman has commentedthat “metacognition affects acquisition, comprehension, retention andapplication of what is learned, and affects learning efficiency, criticalthinking and problem solving.
“9 Athletes must channel their energy and time intoself-regulating and they have to believe that they can achieve their goalsbecause positive, critical thinking is essential for success. According toTheodosiou (2008) within the two main stages of metacognition, which arecognitive knowledge and regulation, there must be declarative knowledge of strategiesand procedures. This is why each stage of metacognition is important andessential for success and high-level athletes tend to show it to a higherextent.Word count: 816Self-Regulation According to Laura Jonker, Marije T.Elferink-Gemser and Chris Visscher (2010), research has shown thatself-regulation is most effective in sports in which the surroundingenvironment is stable and the athletes have clocked numerous hours in training.Their survey assesses the involvement of athletes in their sports and theirself-regulatory skills by posing general questions about gender, grade, and agealong with questions about the frequency of training sessions and traininghours. The questions ascertaining self-regulation were grouped into six categories:planning, self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection, effort, and self-efficacy.10 According to these authors, planning consists of therespondents’ awareness of their tasks’ demands prior to performance;self-monitoring is their awareness of actions during the execution of tasks;effort is the degree to which the respondents are willing and able to exertthemselves; self-efficacy measures how individuals judge their own ability toorganize and complete tasks; evaluation is the respondents’ ability to assesstheir processes and the outcome of their efforts after the tasks are completed.
These factors, in turn, are shaped by motivation, emotion, age, gender,satisfaction, and whether the sport is individual or team oriented. Thetriangulated cause-and-effect relationships in each stage provide insight intohow expert athletes develop their skills, suggesting that “expert” performanceis a learned, nurtured trait, not a natural one. Word count:222Planning In his report, Noel Brick has talked about planning before running, basedon the results of the interviews that he has taken of runners. As with most activities measured in terms of successfullymet goals, advance preparation in sports leads to more positive outcomes.However, in athletics, preparation includes mental preparation, which shouldincorporate metacognition because thinking about self-performance can helpathletes adjust their behavior during a sport or competition. The kind andefficacy of preparation varies according to the stage in which the athlete doesit, such as in the beginning, during, or end of studying and training. Before studying for atest or training for a competition, an athlete might ask themselves how theyfeel.
In response, an athlete might say, “I think of nothing because Idon’t concentrate on studying all the time,” or “I am nervous becauseit helps me be more careful and not make a mistake.” During the planningstage, the athlete is urged to honestly state how they feel and why so that, byunderstanding his or her own attitude, he or she can work within theirabilities, or push themselves outside the comfort zone. Their effort, then, canbe measured by the degree to which they tried to better their attitude, skills, speed, agility, teamwork,communication, or overall performance.
Hong& O’Neil Jr. (2001) and Zimmerman (1990) agree that motivation is “thedegree to which learners are self-efficiously, autonomously, and intrinsicallydriven to attain their goals and consists of effort and self-efficacy.”11 In addition, feelings ofhesitancy or anxiety can illuminate the athlete’s lack of training and highlight the factors sabotaging his or herperformance.
If he or she is aware of these shortcomings, then they can eitherpredict the outcomes, anticipate problems, or compensate for what is missing.For example, if someone says, “I don’t think the training is enough,” then heor she realizes their inadequacy and knows that more training is needed. Incontrast, another athlete might think, “I relax and am happy, trying not tothink about it all the time, so I don’t feel too nervous.” Is this hypotheticalperson too comfortable, or just confident? Is the athlete actively working tomitigate his or her anxiety? Or is this person pretending it does not exist? Byadmitting this feeling to himself or herself, the athlete can determine thebest course of action and plan ahead; in this way, the athlete takes advantageof any possible deficiency and tries to turn it into a positive. The agency andindependence of solo athletes may positively affect their performance, as well,because they are free to operate alone, making their own decisions separatefrom the inconsistencies of team-centered actions.
Overall, Jonkers’s studyreveals that independent athletes outperform those on teams regardless ofcompetitive level.12 Because metacognition affects decisionmaking, comprehension, and critical thinking, its practice yields fasterproblem solving, memory, and learning.13 Word count: 494Self-monitoring The nature of metacognition demands that its practitionerbe cognizant of his or her mind reflecting on itself in the moment. PatriciaBabbs and Alden Moe (1983) note that “metacognition is the knowledge of this cognition—it is aconscious attempt to control his/her own cognitive processes.”14 In order to metacognate, people have to stayaware of their own thinking.
They must know that they are layering another stepof consciousness on top of their regular thinking process. During studying ortraining, an athlete might be thinking of success: “I think of the success towhich the studying will lead,” for example. This goal-oriented thinking allowsthe athlete to envision an outcome, but more complicated thinking enablesathletes to make split-second decisions. For example, the awareness of nervousfeelings and anxiety can alert an athlete to his or her own fear of making amistake; this realization can instantly remind him or her to relax and playwith a clear head. For others, this awareness can manifest in discipline, or”drive,” a final push to the goal, the finish line, or a personal record. Theanticipation of success fuels effort and, in turn, not knowing how well they are playing can cause athletes to workharder. Athletes of all levels may also reflect on their ephemeral feelings ofbliss, giftedness, or physical power, implicitly encouraging themselves. Then,reflecting on this knowledge becomes a way for athletes to instantly gaugewhether their sense of themselves is true or a product of ego or wishfulthinking.
This kind of self-monitoring inevitably leads to self-moderatingwhich can impact performance in the moment. However, intenseself-assessment typically requires professional guidance and organized exercises designed around self-reflectionand decision making. Teresa Dail (2014) notes, “Many athletes will notreflect on their own level of understanding in regard to strategies, nor willthey accurately consider their own level of skill. Therefore, carefully wordedprompts and planned interactions during practice can help the athletes detecttheir own errors and also heighten awareness of their level ofperformance.”15 Although metacognition is most effective inpeople over the age of ten, many adults struggling to critically analyze theirown impulses and motivators in the middle of an action can benefit fromactivities like those encountered in a classroom. However, Dail points out thatathletes must be responsible for their own learning; they cannot be passiverecipients of knowledge, but must incorporate new strategies by implementingthem consciously.
Purposeful analysis can develop strong thinking patterns thathelp athletes of all ability levels increase their energy by encouragingthemselves. Thus, paradoxically, the athlete requires confidence to learnconfidence. When the athlete experiences satisfaction, inspiration oraccolades, he or she practices agency, creating a new sense of self and ahigher consciousness of his or her actions. Word count: 476Evaluation At the conclusion of a competition, athletes naturallyreflect on how they can improve their next performance by drawing on newlessons. Flavell said metacognition was a “person’s knowledge about thecontents and regulation of memory.”16 In order to teach athletes to self-regulate,coaches should model self-reflection by posing questions that are inherentlyreflective even if they are inclusive, as in a team sport.
Evaluation, in thissense, includes the self-evaluation of the players, and the evaluations of thecoaches trying to inspire this self-evaluation. For example, a coach might ask,”How do we avoid this tackle in the end zone?” or “What contributed to the takeaway in the second half?” As a construct, self-reflective questions cornerpeople into critically understanding their own behavior. Word count: 129 Reflection Jonker observes the benefits of metacognitionspecific to athletic endeavors, writing, “Within the sports context, reflection facilitates the development ofsport-specific characteristics that are important to realize one’s fullpotential.
“17 Wordcount: 33Conclusion Ibelieve it is clear that the importance of metacognition cannot beoverestimated. Even though my research showed that there are still somelimitations on usage of metacognition, most of the evidence suggests thathigher-level athletes develop stronger metacognitive skills. There is alsoclear evidence that gender differences can affect how athletes evaluatethemselves. I believe that women face certain prejudices, which increase theiranxiety and, therefore lower their ability to use metacognition).
Anxiety isone of the limitations of metacognition. If an athlete is preoccupied with itand is not confident with his/her abilities, they are unable to effectivelyevaluate, reflect or plan as their brain cannot properly focus. I think it isin some cases reasonable to take sedative (anti anxiety) pills such as Xanax,Valium or Quateapin to reduce anxiety symptoms and enhance performance. 1 Dail. Teresa K.
p. 2 Dail, Teresa K.p. 51 3 Noel, Brick 4 Noel, Brick5 Dail, Teresa K.
p. 50 6 Brick, Noel, p.107 Dail, Teresa K.p.
508 Babbs, Patricia J. and Alden J. Moe p.4249 Hope J. Hartman p. 1 10 LauraJonker, Marije T.
Elferink-Gemser and Chris Visscher11 Jonker, Laura p.902 12 Jonker, Laura p.904 13 Hartman, Hope p.
1 14 Babbs, Patricia and Alden Moe p. 42315 Dail, Theresa, p. 51 16 Dail, Theresa, p. 49 17 Joker, p. 906