Psychological Skills and Directional Perceptions of Competitive Anxiety in Elite and Non-elite Bowls
University of Wales
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The purpose of the present study was to examine non-elite bowls players who perceived competitive anxiety as debilitative and elite players who perceived anxiety as facilitative, and to investigate how they differ in terms of psychological skill usage. In depth interview techniques were employed to investigate the differences between elite and non-elite performers and to identify what psychological skills were being used. Based on the procedures used by Hanton and Connaughton (2002), data regarding the performers’ causal beliefs about anxiety interpretation and psychological skill usage were illustrated via the means of causal networks. Results displayed how cognitive and somatic symptoms were processed, what psychological skills were employed, and how this related to perceived performance. Findings revealed that somatic anxiety intensity and interpretation were similar between elite and non-elite. On the other hand, elite performers experienced lower intensity and more facilitative interpretations of cognitive anxiety than their non-elite counterparts. In terms of psychological skill usage, elite performers used a package of relaxation, routines, positive self talk, social support, and performance goals to perceive competitive anxiety as facilitative. Psychological skill usage in non-elite performers varied using techniques such as distraction methods, relaxation, and outcome goals to lower intensity of anxiety symptoms to subsequently perceive them as facilitative. The findings and practical implications of these results were discussed and future research directions were recommended.
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