A PETTLEP imagery intervention with young athletes

Mary L. Quinton, Jennifer Cumming, Rob Gray, Joseph R. Geeson, Andrew Cooper, Hannah Crowley, Sarah E. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The PETTLEP model of imagery (Holmes & Collins, 2001) was designed to produce more effective imagery. The PETTLEP acronym represents seven key elements (i.e., Physical, Environment, Task, Timing, Learning, Emotion, and Perspective) which should be considered by researchers and practitioners when delivering an imagery intervention. It is thought that by including these elements the functional equivalence at the neural level between imagery and performance will be increased. A number of interventions have supported the use of PETTLEP imagery in improving performance of motor skills (e.g., Smith, Wright, Allsopp, & Westhead, 2007, 2008). To date, however, these PETTLEP interventions have mainly been applied to adult populations with very few conducted with children. The aim of the present study was to test the effects of a 5-week layered-PETTLEP intervention (i.e., adding PETTLEP elements progressively) on movement imagery ability and performance of a soccer task in children. A secondary aim was to examine the potential for a sport-specific nutritional intervention to serve as an effective control condition. Thirty-six children (34 male, 2 female, M age = 9.72 years, SD = 2.05) from a local futsal club were age matched and then randomly allocated to either a PETTLEP imagery intervention group or a nutrition control group. Pre-testing consisted of the Movement Imagery Questionnaire for Children and a dribbling and passing motor task. Posttest protocol was the same with the addition of a nutritional knowledge test. Despite the imagery intervention producing no significant improvements in imagery ability or motor task performance, there was a significant correlation at post-test for the imagery group between age and external visual (r=0.56, p< 0.05) and kinesthetic imagery ability (r = 0.57, p< 0.05). Furthermore, the nutrition group scored significantly higher than the imagery group on the nutrition test (p< 0.05). This study highlights important aspects that need to be considered when delivering PETTLEP imagery interventions to children. This study is also one of the first studies to show that control groups, especially with children, can be used for educational purposes. Similar control groups should be considered in future research, as it means interventions can not only be used in a practical manner to improve sporting performance but also to educate and improve knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral matching
  • Children
  • Imagery ability
  • Intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology


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