Posted 10/03/2020 in Category 1

Proxy Efficacy in Sport and Exercise

Proxy Efficacy in Sport and Exercise


One of the important things about working in sport and offering a sport service is generating a relationship with with a client that can bring about meaningful change. This is true whether you are a sports physiotherapist, personal trainer or sports therapist.  


One factor that might be important is what psychologists call proxy efficacy. A very helpful definition of proxy efficacy is provided by Alavi and McCormick (2016) who define it as:


"... a person or group’s (shared) belief that another person or group has capabilities to organize and execute courses of action on her, his, or its behalf, to produce given levels of attainment" (p.218).


So it is both the confidence we have in people to be able to perform their roles effectively and also that they can use their ability to help me achieve my goals. The combination of these two factors is important. For example, a client may get a chance to address an injury with a sports physiotherapist to a professional football team, and to get fit by working with a 'personal trainer to the stars'. The client rightly recognises the ability of these two individuals and both are highly respected in their field. However, it is not only important that a client respects the ability of a sports physiotherapist  or personal trainer but also that they feel that they are perceived as proxies capable to helping then to achieve their goals. For example, my proxy efficacy in the personal trainer will be less if I notice that he is on his phone arranging meetings with his star clients during our training sessions and seems less interested in the work I am doing. 


Proxy efficacy matters because the confidence we have in our leaders influences our behaviour. This has been illustrated in a number of studies. Many of these have been conducted in exercise settings.  For example, exercise participants reported greater personal confidence and attended classes more often when they had confidence in the class instructor’s ability to teach, motivate and communicate (Bray & Cowan, 2004). It is also interesting to note that the effects go beyond immediate contact, with adherence to training regimes better with greater proxy efficacy in the personal trainer leading the programme, even after the programme had finished (Bray et al., 2006). More broadly, for individuals running clinics or in management roles proxy efficacy can also be an important factor there. Particularly in developing team processes and effectiveness (Alavi & McCormick, 2016).


There are lots of ways of developing proxy efficacy. Drawing on much the same factors that influence our own personal confidence these can include previous success (I have achieved before with this person), vicarious experiences ( I have seen others achieve), verbal persuasion (this person has been recommended to me) and emotional states (taking part in the classes are enjoyable). The specifics will of course depend on your own field but whether you are a personal stranger, sports physiotherapist or sports nutritionist developing proxy efficacy can enhance results.


If you are interested in personal trainer then we have a great selection on our site. We also have a great range of sports physiotherapist and other practitioners who provide sport injury rehabilitation and sports massage services. You can of course search our directory for any service you want. And if you would like to list on the site then we would be delighted to host you and you can join here.