Springfield College Athletic Counseling Graduate Students Earns Thesis Award


Springfield College Athletic Counseling graduate student Erika Van Dyke recently was awarded the 2016 American Psychological Association Division 47 Thesis Award for her thesis titled “Exploring relationships among self-talk and balance beam performance in gymnastics.”

This award recognizes outstanding student research that has the greatest potential for making a significant contribution to the theoretical and applied knowledge base in exercise and sport psychology.

“This is such a special accomplishment not just for me, but the entire research team that worked on this project; colleagues, faculty, everyone,” said Van Dyke. “I can’t thank my advisor Judy Van Raalte enough, she has been so supportive, and helped make this research project possible. We working with a topic that is tough to measure the results, but we found that gymnasts who use positive self-talk performed at a higher level.”

Van Dyke and her colleagues analyzed female gymnasts ranging in age from 18 to 23 years old who have attended 30 NCAA Division I colleges and universities. The focus of the research was to examine the self-talk of the gymnasts, test their belief in self-tack effectiveness, and examine their competitive performance and performance consistency when performing balance beam routines during intercollegiate meets.

“One of my favorite aspects of the athletic training master’s program is the experience you receive out in the field, and how it applies to what we learn in the classroom,” said Van Dyke. “The program was the foundation for me to rely on when conducting my research, and it’s a big reason why we were able to receive such a prestigious award.”