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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 78 (2013) 220 – 224


Psychological and Motor-Coordination Factors in Children Tennis

Adrian Alexandru Mosoi*
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Science, Sos. Panduri nr. 90, Bucharest, Romania


The objective of the study was to identify differences in tennis performance of children at skill, motivation, and motor-
coordination level, depending on their position in the national rank. The research was conducted on 33 athletes, aged between
10 and 12 years (average age = 11.51, SD = .55). Participants were subjected to the Concentrated Attention Test, The Sport
Motivation Scale SMS – 28 and a coordination trial of Tapping and Tracing Test. Concluding, differences between athletes at
national level can be explained by differentially developed psycho-motor factors. Athletes who have reached high scores in
the skill tests likewise achieved the best sport results.

© 2012TheTheAuthors.
Authors. Published
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Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
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Key words: attention; extrinsic motivation; left hand tracing; tennis;

1. Introduction

Sport psychology that has its function in the sport progress, aims to improve the performance of coaches and
athletes. Nowadays, coaches turn into psychologists to accomplish an objective assessment of the athlete on the
psychic level through methods that are not available to them.
This study intends to transfer knowledge and spread recent information among coaches about sport
psychology and its importance in daily practice, by identifying psycho-motor factors in adolescent players that
might substantially affect tennis performance at an early stage of life. Coaches could consider the psychological
testing as an assessment model of their athletes in addition to their evaluation of the athletes’ performance at the
level of skill, motivation and personality.
Previous research has shown the interest of psychologist in discovering determining psychological factors by
applying different methods. Jackson and Csikszentmihalyi (1999) have raised an inventory on athletes‫ ݠ‬psychic

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1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of PSIWORLD 2012
Adrian Alexandru Mosoi / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 78 (2013) 220 – 224 221

qualities. Moreover, the authors have designed a questionnaire that highlights high level intrinsic motivation.
According to Csikszentmihailyi (1990; cited in Crăciun, 2008), nine factors describe this motivation that is
defined as “flow experience”: a) an equilibrium between challenge and abilities; b) conscience and the fusion
with the action carried out; c) clearly defined objectives; d) clear feedback, devoid of ambiguity; e) total
concentration on the performing action; f) sense of control in the absence of a conscious attempt to control the
performing action (paradox of control); g) loss of self-awareness (the individual becomes one with the activity);
h) distortions in perception of time; i) autotelic experience (resultant of those aspects mentioned before). These
psychologists are convinced that intrinsic motivation can lead to remarkable results in sport. Greenleaf et al.
(2001) have highlighted a number of 72 psychological factors which were considered to be crucial for athletes
that participated at the Olympic Games.
Hays et al. (2007) have conducted a study regarding the level of trust in high performance athletes. Nine out of
fourteen athletes (six men, three women) were confident about their physical attributes like power, speed and
endurance. Eight of those fourteen athletes (four men, four women) were certain about the influence of
psychological factors on their performance like achieving the goal, the pre-routine performance as well as the
ability to cope with stressful moments. In the case of one athlete who reported about the ability to retain control
under considerable straint, the degree of confidence in psychological attributes amounted to 57%. Positive
associations between “flow” and psychological factors assessed by elite athletes further stressed the importance
of mental skills in sports, in particular, the avoidance of negative thinking, combined with a good emotional
control, relaxation, an adequate level of activation and to a lesser extent, setting the objectives and using images.
The coach provides psychological materials to the athlete in order to demonstrate the usefulness of skills and how
to acquire them (Coker and Fischman, 2010). Jackson and Kimiecik (2008) explained in a much broader sens the
aspect of peak performance, differentiating between top performance and top experience: top performance is an
episode of superior operation, whereas top experience is a moment/period of greatest happiness and bliss.
Exemplified, from a tennis player‫ݠ‬s point of view a top performance is that of winning an important tournament,
while his or her level of performance is rather medium. But a top experience can be a result of winning a grand
prix. In this context it should be considered that the player‫ݠ‬s top performance cannot be linked to his or her
personal achievement during the game: due to an extremely positive score a top experience can occur, although
the athlete performed poorly. Martindale et al. (2007) mentioned the need for individual programs as the key for
individual development, including objectives and strategies. Due to the individualized development program each
individual has a personal formula for success and personal requirements in terms of his or her competences and
experiences which in the end will be proved to be useful.
Another approach to improve athletic performance is the psycho-physical sport profile that has been
developed by Butler et al. (1993). The authors conducted an individual analysis of the performance of an amatuer
boxer and its impact on his progress. The study pointed out the advantages of those profiles through monitoring
progress. The perception of the coach regarding the athlete’s performance and contrarywise is evidenced through
individual charts and profiles grouped by age. Rees et al. (2000) have worked out a system to measure
performance in tennis. The factors involved in the test batteries were execution plan, loss of control, a feeling of
calm, determination, lack of care, state of “flow” (high level of intrinsic motivation) and efficency of tactics. Top
athletes and beginners differ in the way of processing visualization, top athletes having a synthetic focus whereas
beginners play with analytical attention (Ripoll, 1990; cited in Tenenbaum, & Bar-Eli, 2007). For those who
practice ball games, at which the processing of information is pressed by time, the strategy of synthetic
visualization is the best choice in taking decisions. Attention, concentration, emotional control, visualization and
anticipation belong amongst others to a set of factors that play a role in tennis performance (Samulski, 2002).
Wilson (2006) described the involved factors though as vision, orientation towards action, independence,
attention to details, responsibility and perception. Top players and coaches are of the opinion that the mental part
of tennis is decisive, particularly in the case if physical abilities are equal. Studies (Crespo and Reid, 1998;
&ăWănescu and CăWănescu, 2009) have emphasized the role of psycho-motor factors in tennis that can
222 Adrian Alexandru Mosoi / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 78 (2013) 220 – 224

substantially influence the beginner‫ݠ‬s play, like coordination, balance, sense of touch (tactile sense), laterality,
ambidexterity, speed of reaction and body scheme. At an earlier stage, Dragu (1996) has created a profile of
tennis players using psycho-motor and personality tests. Moise (2011) recently provided models about
components of psychic qualities of performance tennis players for both sexes and at the ages of 8 to 10, 11 to 12,
13 to 14, 15 to 16, 17 to 19 years as well as for seniors. The psychic components considered in this study were
psycho-motor and intelectual skills, emotional and volitional qualities and personality traits. Further research
involved the setting up of a range for weight and hight measures in respect to age and gender. Crespo et al.
(2006) have classified performers by age, starting from 8 to 10 years. The authors emphasize children at this age
to be educated the joy of play, the award, the positive attitude of athletes in the game as well as outside of the
court, sociability through school plays and competitions between teams. On the other hand, according to Cattel‫ݠ‬s
model of personality factors (16 PF) the character traits of coaches and fitness instructors were examined (Moise
and Matei, 2011).

2. Methodology

Our objective was to identify the psychological and motor factors that dependent on their development
distinguish between the athletes of the national team (position 1-8) and the athletes in remaining positions. The
research was conducted on 33 athletes (average age = 11.51, SD = .55). The subjects were divided into two
groups: 16 athletes of the national team (position 1-8) and 17 athletes representing the class outside the national
team. Participants were subjected to the Concentrated Attention Test (Toulouse Piéron), The Sport Motivation
Scale SMS – 28 (Pelletier et al. 1995) with facets (intrinsic motivation – to know; intrinsic motivation - to
accomplish; intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation; extrinsic motivation - identified; extrinsic motivation
- introjected; extrinsic motivation – external regulation and amotivation). The coordination trial in tapping (6
seconds with each hand) and tracing (drawing lines in 10 seconds with each hand) was used for testing the
movement skills of the left and right hand. SPSS 18 software was used for applying the non - parametric U
Mann- Whitney method.

3. Results

The values of U with significant statistical are selected in Tables 1 and 2:

Table 1. U Mann – Whitney Motivation Results

Motivational factors: Column A (U) Column B (p ”. 05))

National team: n = 16;
Outside the national team: n = 17;
SMS – I – To know 75.00 .026
SMS – E - Identified 60.5 .006
SMS – E – Total Extrinsic 56.5 .004

4. Discussions

The objective of our study was to identify differences in tennis performance at skill, motivation and motor-
coordination level in children from 10 to 12 years of age. According to the test analysis the athletes of the
national team who showed a high level of attention (both in duration as well as in concentration), of intrinsic
motivation and of movement coordination achieved remarkable results. Statistical analyses for this age classes
Adrian Alexandru Mosoi / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 78 (2013) 220 – 224 223

have revealed a larger (U) value regarding the concentration attention than the one for the duration of attention
(table 2). Concentration attention can be an important element in sport results of the players (Samulski, 2002).
The level of duration attention and concentration can be observed as being an important factor in the game of
tennis. Moreover, the statistical results indicate the fact that the facets of intrinsic motivation – to know, extrinsic
motivation - identified, total extrinsic motivation - are explicative elements for the differences between athletes
of different levels. Since the majority of athletes at this age play only a few years of tennis, the source of
motivation and the resulting satisfaction in playing tennis cannot be conceptualized. This circumstance might be
a reason that the results indicate values in favor of extrinsic motivation, although the technical literature outlines
the importance of intrinsic motivation at this age (Crespo, 2008). An additional analysis to evaluate sport
performance is the Tapping and Tracing test. The score of the left hand tracing (fine movement) and of the right
hand tapping (coarse movement) indicate the level of coordination. Other aspects that are linked to the level of
coordination are the significant results for the non-dominant hand in regard to the psycho-motor factors (table 2),
which revealed a high value of (U) for the left hand tracing that was the non-dominant hand in the majority of
cases in this study. The scores of tapping and tracing with both hands (in time intervals, not simultaneously)
differed substantially between the two tested groups, that is, the players of the national team and outside of the
team. CăĠănescu & CăĠănescu (2009) found similar results with respect to the role of coordination in the game of
tennis. I assume that the type of training of the non-dominant hand and the attempt to use the non-dominant hand
to the (almost) same extent as the dominant hand might be an aid in accomplishing notable results at this age. In
terms of selection, the identification of potential ambidextrous players could be an indicator for the children
becoming elite athletes.

Table 2. U Mann – Whitney Results Psycho-motor skills

Skill factors
National team: n = 16;
Outside team: n = 17; Column A (U) Column C (p ”.05)
Duration attention 74. .027
Concentration attention 59. .005
Tapping right 56.5 .004
Tapping Total 80.5 .045
Left hand Tracing 57. .004
Tapping right – left hands 72.5 .022
Right – left hands tracing 63. .008
Tapping + Tracing Total 75. .028

5. Conclusions

This study has outlined the number of physical and coordination qualities with the scope of finding some
factors that could have a strong impact on tennis performance at the level of 10 to 12 years. This age class is the
first official category to enter a contest in the game of tennis at both, national and international level. The players
at this age show a high level of concentration attention but a minor level of duration attention, which means that
the children have already the capability to focus on their activity but cannot stay concentrated for a long time. At
the level of motivation, the athletes at this age, playing in the national team, tend towards the extrinsic
motivation. I assume that the type of training of the non-dominant hand and the attempt to use the non-dominant
hand to the (almost) same extent as the dominant hand might be an aid in accomplishing notable results at this
age. In terms of selection, the identification of potential ambidextrous players could be an indicator for the
224 Adrian Alexandru Mosoi / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 78 (2013) 220 – 224

children becoming elite athletes. Further research related to the impact of ambidexterity on the performance is
necessary. Although the examined factors are statistically supported, the number of participants was not
sufficiently large enough to conclude that these factors can be predictors for the evaluation of tennis performance
at this age.

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