Sports Psychology
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Learned Helplessness

Learned Dependency or Learned Helplessness 
       The definition of learned helplessness can be demonstrated in a behavioral laboratory model in which exposure to a series of unforeseen adverse situations gives rise to a sense of helplessness or an inability of the subject to cope with or devise ways to escape such situations, even when escape is possible.  A state of apathy or passive behavior induced by negative conditioning, which can include verbal and/or physical intimidation or abuse.

Because junior high students are forced to take P.E. classes, it is very likely there
will be a higher number of individuals who have acquired the condition of learned
helplessness. The outcome is different in junior varsity and varsity sports programs
because the players have a choice not to participate; however, there are cases of
learned helplessness that are rooted in other sources.

       Learned helplessness can originate in an individual's low self-esteem. It also can be caused by not wanting to participate in team activities as a result of students who have experienced taunting and harassed their entire time in physical education classes.  It is no wonder that these individuals don't want to have anything to do with team sports.

       A working definition of learned helplessness is: "A person perceives that his or her participation will not have any effect on the desired outcome of a task or skill."  When assistance is constantly provided, the result is a learned dependency on others to perform the task so they can be said to have developed learned helplessness.  An example would be when a child, who is old enough to lace up their skates, is neither responsible for putting on their skates or taking them off. A parent also performs the task of drying off the blades and putting them in the carrying bag.

Recommended Reading:

Learned Helplessness in Sport One purpose of the present investigation was to examine whether tennis athletes have manipulative achievement patterns associated with learned helplessness,

Learned helplessness is a control - University of Idaho   Learned helplessness – is the belief that “we can't change the course of negative events—that .... What are the limitations of “attribution retraining” in sport?

Sports Psychology and Mental toughness Using sports psychology to improve your mental toughness and boost your ... while self-control is acquired as a means to combat learned helplessness.

Problems and Solutions


Bibliography for Learned Helplessness in Leisure and Sport

PPT Sport Psychology: History Learned helplessness – is the belief that “we can't change the course of negative ... Learned helplessness is about responses to failure NOT success

Learned Helplessness in Sport The information leader in physical activity and health.

Cognitive-affective sources of sport enjoyment in adolescent ...  Learned helpless affect in sport. The self-worth and affect subscales of the Dimensions of Depression Profile for Children and Adolescents

Learned helplessness: a survey of cognitive, motivational and ...   Learned helplessness: a survey of cognitive, motivational and ... Laboratoire de Psychologie Appliquée au Sport.

Unlearning Helplessness - Sheridan Fencing  Feb. 3, 2009 ... Here are some things a coach can do to help a student turn learned helplessness according to sports psychologist Robert Rotella.

Psychological Problems and Solutions  


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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