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Finally, the study that perhaps best supports the need for psychological testing

of competitive gymnasts was done to help understand why some gymnasts succeed and

others do not (Fitzpatrick, 1999). The study involved comparisons of elite and non-elite

level gymnasts, and found that the most commonly reported attributes for both

successful and unsuccessful performance outcomes were psychological factors. An

investigation by Unestahl (1981), involving 5000 Swedish athletes of various ages and

gender who participated in different sports, showed a clear relationship between inner

mental training and level of competence. Prior to this study, it was generally believed

that ability was the most common cause of successful outcomes (Weiner, 1985).

The literature indicates two findings relevant to this study. First, gymnasts

display different psychological characteristics depending on their level of competition

(Fitzpatrick, 1999). If, indeed, higher level successful gymnasts can be determined by

psychological characteristics, it could make it easier for coaches to decide which

athletes to invest their time and effort in training for the elite level. Secondly, the

literature indicates that with better information about the athletes, coaches are apt to be

more careful recommending an athlete to commit to an elite training program (Kerr &

Pos, 1994). As it stands now, many coaches solicit parents to enroll their children into

expensive and time consuming training programs in hope of developing an elite

gymnast. Knowing whether or not a young gymnast should be in an elite training

program would be of benefit to the athlete, parents, and to the coach. Based on these

comments, it is apparent that a study investigating psychological characteristics of

different levels of gymnasts is warranted.

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