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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Shane Mueller

Committee Member 1

Kelly Steelman

Committee Member 2

John Durocher


Previous studies involving mental aspects of athletic performance have covered a broad range of topics, including choking, competitiveness, mental toughness, and mental control. I hypothesize that mental control is a major aspect of what allows athletes to succeed during competition. To test this hypothesis, we conducted two studies. The first study was an exploratory series of twelve incident-based interviews to examine the mental control strategies of athletes from a variety of sporting backgrounds, ranging from collegiate to world level. Analysis revealed that athletes frequently reported incidents of mental engagement, mental distraction, and mental distancing during competition, suggesting that those with effective mental coping strategies may be better positioned to succeed during competition. This suggests that in order for athletes to compete at a consistently high level, some form of mental control is performed prior to or during the events.