An Investigation into the Relationship Between Diving, Self-Efficacy and Performance in Competitive Diving

  • Emily Pattinson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Springboard and highboard diving is a sport of moments. Having the slightest performance advantage in diving can make the difference between winning a gold medal or not even making the top 10. One method of psychological performance enhancement used extensively throughout the sporting domain is self-efficacy theory, which refers to an athlete’s perceptions about their ability to perform a task or cope with a situation. Self-efficacy based interventions have been used in many sports including rugby, tennis, gymnastics and swimming to enhance performance and reduce competition anxiety. Little is known about self-efficacy within the sport of diving. The current programme of research initially used qualitative investigation to establish the uses and attitudes towards self-efficacy in different samples of current and retired divers. The first study of this thesis used focus groups of competitive divers to discover 12 themes that corresponded with the five sources of self-efficacy highlighted by Bandura (1977) and Feltz, Short and Sullivan (2008). The second study expanded on these findings by using in depth interviews with retired divers to highlight four main facilitators and four main barriers to overcoming mental block in diving. Before any quantitative research could commence there was a need for the development of a diving specific self-efficacy measure, as no current scale existed. Initial testing deemed the DIVE-SE scale reliable for use with divers over the age of 12 years old ( = .89), subsequent testing validated the scale for divers as young as 9 years old ( = .86). The fourth study suggested a positive effect on ability level and certain sources of self-efficacy, with higher ability divers having higher levels of social persuasion (F (1,175) =30.69, P < .001) and physiological/emotional states (F (1,175) = 12.41, p = .001) than their lower ability counterparts. The fifth aimed to explore the potential self-efficacy performance relationship within a competitive age group diving sample. Only physiological/emotional state statistically significantly predicted total competition score (F(1,16) = 5.977, p = .027, R2 = .285) and only in 12 – 13 year old divers. The final study of the current programme of research aimed to improve training performance and reduce anxiety in adolescent divers using an arousal re-appraisal intervention. A multiple case study design was used with three divers, all three case studies demonstrated an improvement in performance and self-efficacy levels, and two divers showed a reduction in training anxiety. The current programme of research provides in depth knowledge into self-efficacy within a diving context, and has produced both a measurement tool and performance enhancing intervention for applied use within the sport of diving. Further research could aim to address the potential influences of self-efficacy and diving on athlete development and mental health.
Date of Award9 Apr 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorStewart Cotterill (Supervisor), Jason Tuck (Supervisor), Sandra Leyland (Supervisor) & David Archer (Supervisor)


  • adolescent
  • arousal re-appraisal
  • diving
  • performace
  • self-efficacy

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