The Rookie

Topics: Operant conditioning, Reinforcement, Applied behavior analysis Pages: 6 (1951 words) Published: March 1, 2011
The Rookie is the story of Mr. Miller, a man who dreamed of being a major league pitcher but instead accepted a more traditional life style with his family in a small town in Texas. Mr. Miller assumed a shadow of his previous dream as the high school baseball coach and in order to inspire his failing baseball team, he wagers winning the championship against his reattempt at becoming a major league pitcher. In due course, the team wins the championship game and Mr. Miller becomes a major league pitcher. (Hancock, 2002) Within the context of this dramatized sports story three elements that have roots in sports psychology can be observed: arousal state management, practice and operant condition. Each of these elements will be discussed as presented in the film with additional empirical evidence and support below Being able to harness the power stemming from altered emotional states such as anger and other changes of our internal psychological equilibrium can potentially generate and provide enormous amounts of raw power. In the properly trained athlete this raw energy can be refined into a competitive edge demonstrated as an increase in performance and capability. However, when arousal states are ignored emotions can unfortunately work against the athlete to a potentially catastrophic failure of emotional regulation. Conversely, when the player isn’t engaged fully their boredom and lack of interest in the sport can undermine their otherwise impressive talents due to lack of attention and focusing on non-essential elements. Taylor, Gould and Rolo (2008) researched the differences between Olympic medalists and non-medalists comparing the two athletic groups’ employment of psychological skills and techniques. They determined that a consistent distinction between the two groups was that those athletes who utilized arousal state management strategies experienced a significant advantage over non-arousal state managing athletes and resulted in standing atop of the Olympic podium.

Further, Taylor et. al., (2008) suggests that arousal state management (positive self talk, positive imagery, emotional regulation, etc.) are the strongest predictors in Olympian athletic victorious performance. Considering that Olympians are arguably the best athletes in their field of sport, the differences within top tier performers winning or losing appears to be the management of the raw energy that is possible when successfully regulating emotions and remaining positive. In the film, The Owls, the high school baseball team that Mr. Miller coached were overwhelmingly defeated by a visiting team due to what Mr. Miller described as giving up. Through the course of the displayed game The Owls players appeared bored, picking at their ball mitts or staring off into the distance, lacking focus on the important elements of the game such as the other players and the ball in play. Each of these elements are common descriptors of low arousal states which negatively affected their performance and ultimately lead to the crushing defeat. (Hancock, 2002) Alternatively, after the defeat the team is inspired by Mr. Miller’s promise to try out for major league; their emotional investment increases demonstrating enthusiasm, increased energy and motivation for victory which are associated with increased arousal states. In the subsequent montage, The Owls demonstrate their increased potential resulting in one victory after the next until the triumphant win in the championship game over the reigning championship team that originally provided their crushing loss earlier in the film. This change in attitude and utilization of emotional energy through arousal state management is reflective of the performance gains an athlete who can regulate their emotions can develop and deliver during their athletic performance. (Hancock, 2002) Another relevant study concerning arousal state regulation, investigated by Movahedi, Sheikh, Bagerzadeh, Hemayattalab and Ashaveri...
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