PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF A 100 CYCLISTS SAMPLE.







The research regards the cyclist personality evaluation and particularly intends to notice some of personality differences between the youngers racing-cyclists (Category Under 23) and the oldiers (Category Elite).
Further hypotheses examined regard personality different features between "sprinters" cyclists and "climbers" cyclists and presence of a less anxious condition in the Elite category rather than in Under 23 category.

KEY WORDS: Cyclist, personality, anxiety.

This work joins in the vast literature about topic of the connection between sport and personality and want to contribute to trace out a research way on personality profiling of people who practise cyclism at agonistic level. Clearly this type investigation, developed on a sample, offers a limitated informations which don't pretend to be definitive. Before to present my research's contents I consider opportune to report some investigations about cyclist's personality.
In a study reported by Eysenck, Nias e Cox (1982) was administered the EPQ Questionnnaire to athletes members of eight different sports, in which it was a cyclists group : these one and fencing players resulted the most introverted on sample. They showed themselves people quiet, reserved, not-aggressive and they had self-control. An Hagberg's work (1979) found a cyclists' group which was administered the EPQ Questionnaire and the Profile of Mood States was more introverted, less anxious and less depressed than standard norm, and they obtained higher scores than others in the bodily strength scale. In a Hehl study (1981) reported by Eisenck and collegues (1982) compared hand-glider athletes with a cyclists group. These ones resulted less depressed, less indulgent to themselves, with a less mixed sexuality, more anxious, more hypochondriac, stablier at working level, less negligent and with more close family relations. Lavarda's research, reported by Antonelli e Salvini (1987) about cyclist's personality takes off again social origin of the Italian cyclists frequently is modest, generally rustic or working : sometimes this socio-economic condition produces sporting activity utilization to be succesful .
The fact that cyclist often come from the workers social class witnesses learning in the enviromental and family context of concept of job like hard bodily work ; in fact cyclism is a endurance sport, protracted bodily effort, exposure to cold, rain or high temperatures.
Others researches about characteristic cyclists traits, took by Rapisardi e Mastruzzo and reported by Antonelli and Salvini (1987), underline resistance to frustrations, presence of short pre-agonistic anxiety about road cyclism and success depression, which shows particularly in the category pass.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
The sample consisted of 100 subjects (all males) which were in activity in 16 Italian agonistic squads. I divided racing-cyclists in two sub-categories, Under 23 and Elite, making up two groups: the first group "Under 23" is constituted by 62 subjects between 19 and 22 years of age, while the second group "Elite" is constituted by 38 subjects between 23 and 40 years of age.

HYPOTHESES
The research proposes above all to trace out a general profiling of personality characteristics of cyclist, giving prominence to differences among Under 23 and Elite.
Subsequently I consider that oldier cyclists result less anxious than the youngers. The third hypothesis regards existence some of personality's differences among "climbers" cyclists and "sprinters" cyclists.

QUESTIONNAIRE
To take my research I used the Cognitive Behavioral Assessment (CBA) Sport version (Bertolotti G., Bettinardi O., Biondo R., Guggiardi M., Michielin P., Salvini A., Sanavio E., Turchi G.P., Vidotto G., Zotti A.M).
This questionnaire is arranged to subject psychological evaluation and it is found on an answers system regarding many psychological areas, with aid of some scales and questionnaires: the 13 scales which compose it provide with some personal data, an anxiety evaluation of the subject through the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory X-1 and X-3 form for state-anxiety (Spielberger C.D., Gorsuch R.L. and Lushene R.E.) and X-2 form for trait-anxiety (adaptation and translate by Lazzari R. and Pancheri P.), psycho-physiological troubles, ability to be assertive on his enviroment, presence of phobias or fears, possible presence of symptoms depression, perception of own body, consciousness of own emotions during the game and during the training, grade of self-esteem and perception that events are under control or not.
Studies took place to give statistical validity to CBA Sport Questionnaire and to obtain some standard data; works regard Questionnaire's administration to 582 athletes (males) composed by 63 handball players, 364 soccer players, 63 drivers and 92 tennis players. With the results of these researchs I formed a control group.

MEASURES
I applyed to the picked up data statistical procedures to give prominence to statistical meaningful results, with a probability < 0.05.
I submitted to variance analysis the means reported by groups Under 23 and Elite, the means of the sprinters group and climbers group too. As regards as Questionnaire validity, I calculated internal consistency using the Cronbach Alpha value and I submitted every scale to Factorial Analysis with Varimax rotation.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
The subjects sample come a 16 differents Italian squads, are an average 23,76 years and they train on average 9,39 years. The road-racing and the long-distance are the roles more frequently playied. At least a half of the subjects got a important sporting title: in this percentage we find 5% obtained a title at world level and 14% at national level. Almost half of the subjects practices another sport besides cyclism, in particular soccer and swimming. Half of the subjects has an important affective and stable relationship, evaluated like rather good, while 30% of the subjects not engaged in a relationship tells to have any adventure.
As regards sexual life, 25% cyclists never had any complete sexual experience; the 75% of the athletes had not any sexual trouble.
Interessant are percentages concerning features sporting activity of cyclist: 70% point out presence of a remarkable physical endurance, 43% point out long retreats, 40% fatiguing sport away matcht, 28% anxiety and tension and 13% heavy rhythms and hours ; this frame witnesses hardness of this sport considered very fatiguing by practising. 80% is rather satisfied with his activity and his results, above all Elite category, which reported a higher mean than the younger group. This date can be explained as in the cyclism standard the athlete get to his ottimal condition towards 24/27 years, due to a good physical form and moreover to remarkable experiences makes him more mature. 89% of the cyclists get on well whit the coach, while 41% changed sporting Society or coach during the last year. 96% don't smokes and 68% hardly ever drinks, while 17% drinks only during the meals. 85% is standard hungry, also if often cyclists eat in a hurry. The grater part of the examined sample sleeps well, also if sometimes half of the subjects spends more of 30 minutes to go to sleep.
The 27% has some physical pain problems regarding neck, shoulders, back and legs. The 30% of the subjects uses pharmaceutical substances to improve own performance, 11% tells to have tryed sometimes amfetamina and the 4% still uses some drugs. As regards state anxiety, - anxious situation present at the moment della test administration - it is manifest that the subjects don't experiment a very high anxious condition (mean =32,38). Elite group has a mean less high in this scale (30,63) rather than the younger group (33,45): probably this fact is due by greater experience and preparation than the oldiers coping with new situations, which could awaken any care.
The trait anxiety evaluation, - referred to anxious stable trait of personality - doesn't show particularly anxious subjects (mean = 33,58). The last scale relative to the state anxiety, experienced at the end of test's compilation (mean = 14,58), shows in this case as well that less young athletes are less anxious (13,63) rather than Under 23 group (15,16): this date confirms considerations on the greater quiet of Elite category.
The Elite group therefore is less anxious than the Under 23 group only as regards situational anxiety, but it isn't remarkable difference on presence of a stable anxious trait of personality on subjects.
In the Questionnaire regarding psycho-physiological reactions the mean of the whole sample is low (mean =2,67): cyclists then haven't great troubles at psycho-physiological level.
The Assertiveness Questionnaire measures the ability of man to adfirm own needs and to realize, through the account of 3 scores regarding grade of assertiveness, aggressiveness and passiveness of the subject. The whole sample is rather assertive (9,1) not very aggressive (4,68) and not passive (4,63) towards the enviroment. The fears Inventory stands out the presence of fears or phobias: the mean obtained by cyclists sample results to be very low (5,33).The Depression Questionnaire obtained a rather low mean (1,87) : cyclists examinated don't report remarkable depressive displayes. The scale that measures physical consciousness, i.e. bent to percept own body, his functionality and the physical efficiency reports a significant high mean (30,22).
The Elite group seems to show a greater physical consciousness and to have even more a good physical efficiency (31,18) compared with Under 23 group (29,63).The athlete's Selfconsciousness Questionnaire measures the bent to think over more personal sides at private and public level and considers as well a third factor regarding social anxiety, both during the race and during the training. The whole sample results to be more selfconscious at private level both during the race (mean = 6,26 opposite a mean of 3,49 at public level) and during the training (mean =7,22 opposite a mean of 1,95 at public level); then the cyclist tends to think his deeper sides rather than more superficial sides. The Under 23 group obtained results higher in the sub-scale of physical Selfconsciousness in race at public level (3,74 opposite the Elite mean of 3,07) and in the sub-scale social anxiety experienced during the training (1,93 opposite the Elite mean of 1,15), while tends to statistical significance the result obtained in the social anxiety sub-scale during the race (1,37 opposite the Elite mean of 0,92). These data brings to think that the younger group is worried about evaluation who wathching him during agonistic performance, about how appears in public and how is evaluated by others : this care is present as well during the trainings and give rise to a certain anxiety level. As well in this case the younger group results more anxious and worried than the oldiers, more used to the audience and TVcameras. The Self-Assertivness Evaluation Questionnaire measures the athlete's self-esteem at 3 levels : prototypic (mean= 4,98), hetero-evaluated (mean= 4,67) and self-evaluated (mean = 5,79).
The sample reports a fair distribution between the 3 sides considered, with a higher score in the self-evaluated sub-scale: this means that on average the subjects are well-balanced and adapted to enviroment, are able to support themselves during the misfortune moments.
The Elite group obtained a higher mean at hetero-evaluated (5,21) and self-evaluated (6,47) levels in comparison with Under 23 (4,36 and 5,37). These data show that the oldiers have more confidence in themselves but search more activity positive evaluation than the others. I calculated as well 3 factors that measure subject's good Self-assertivness evaluation (mean = 5,52), seeking success (mean = 5,93) and ability to commit oneself (mean = 3,99). The Elite group tends to value even more self-assertivness (6,13 opposite Under 23 mean of 5,15) and seeks more the win (6,47 opposite Under 23 mean of 5,6).The oldiers group seems more aggressive and ambitious, showing more wish to make it and to come to professionalism world.
The Locus of Control scale concerns the control perceived by subject regarding life's events; the mean of 11,5 obtained by the whole sample does to suppose that sometimes the subjects perceive reinforcement like dependent by own behavior and sometimes like without control.
The last hypothesis formulated esteemed existence of personality's differences in the climbers and sprinters specialties; this hypothesis borne in mind to consideration that members of these two specialties are submitted to a different training, have a different muscular specialization and have different skills in the squad. The data confirm the hypothesis, giving prominence to the presence of significant differences among the means in many CBA Sport scales: summing up, climbers cyclists are more positive, less passive in comparison with enviroment and are less anxious than sprinters, more efficient, have more confidence in own abilities, identify themselves more easily with the athlete's ideal prototypic imagine and think that events are under control.
However, sprinters win more races and are more careful to style with which show them in public.

CONCLUSIONS
The present work purposes interessant sides on cyclist's personality; on average cyclist leads a regular life, appears satisfied with his agonistic activity enough, is little tense and little depressive, is able to be assertive on his enviroment and he tends to improve own performance through expert advices, is liable to some psycho- phyisiological trouble like must frequently to urinate or to have sweaty hands and is devoid of remarkable phobias or fears, unless to feel rejected and refused by others.
The cyclist has a good consciousness of his physical functionality and perceive himself like physiologically efficient, feeling well both at physical and mental level; during races and trainings he is conscious of how he appears to others but as well of changes of his mood states, has a well-balanced self-evaluation, has confidence on his ability, has a strong motivation to success and intends to improve his performances with a constant training.
As regards the Elite and Under 23 categories, appear some specific characteristics : Elite category seem to be less anxious rather than younger, more conscious of own bodily functionality, more satisfied with them sporting activity, could have a self-opinion more positive and could seek even more success.
Results interessant to notice some connections between the results of my research and previous studies on cyclists' personality : in fact on contribution quoted by Eysenck exists a bent from cyclists examined to be quiet and not-aggressive, and moreover mantain a certain control on emotions.
In the Hagberg's work (1979) found a cyclists'group was more introverted, less anxious and less depressed than standard norm, and they obtained higher scores than others in the bodily strength scale; as well in the Lavarda's research he give prominence to presence of a low preagonistic anxiety on road cyclism. Of course these personality's sides was measured with tests that have different features, but seems that results of these researchs can somehow tract a one way of thought.

Dr. Marina Gerin Birsa


REFERENCES

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