The Effects of Avoiding Instructions Under Pressure: An Examination of the Volleyball Serving Task.

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Gorgulu R., Gokcek E.

Journal of human kinetics, vol.78, pp.239-249, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 78
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.2478/hukin-2021-0039
  • Journal Name: Journal of human kinetics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, SportDiscus
  • Page Numbers: pp.239-249
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Wegner predicts that under pressure self-avoiding instructions not to perform in a certain manner will break down precisely where it is least desired that is the hypothesis of the present study. Specifically, the aim was to test the hypothesis that when instructed not to serve into a certain zone, ironic error would be more prevalent under pressure. Our sample comprised 43 female participants between the age of 13 and 16 (M-age = 14.51, SD = 1.35) who were active volleyball players (M-training years = 5.40, SD = 2.38). We measured the participants' psychophysiological indications of anxiety via the heart rate, heart rate variability as well as the self-reported Mental Readiness Form-3. To measure performance, we counted the number of target and non-target serving zones under different anxiety conditions. Participants scored +5 points for serving into the target zone, scored -5 points for serving to the out or hitting the net and 1 point for serving into the court except the target zone. A 2 (anxiety) x 3 (serving zone) fully repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant anxiety x serving zone interaction F (2, 84) = 36.52, p <.001. When instructed not to serve in a certain zone, players' overall performance did not change across anxiety conditions t (42) =.68, p =.50. Results did not provide support for the Wegner's theory as expected, but instead revealed evidence for the Woodman et al.'s (2015) differentiation of ironic performance error. The results demonstrate that the theory of ironic processes may account for practical instruction-based solution for reducing the susceptibility to ironic errors in the serving type of task in volleyball.