THE AFFECT OF A COACH’S PRE-PERFORMANCE PEP TALK ON PERCEIVED COGNITIVE AND SOMATIC ANXIETY SYMPTOMS AND THEIR IMPACT UPON PERFORMANCE
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of a coach’s pre-performance pep talk upon the anxiety responses of team sport players during performance. Through the adoption of a qualitative design, semi-structured interviews were conducted on eight participants (4 male and 4 female) who met the study criteria. The participants were asked to retrospectively discuss the somatic and cognitive anxiety symptoms they experienced prior to a competition, and the affects positive and critically constructive pep talks had upon the intensity and direction of these symptoms. Four causal networks were developed displaying the combined results of the participants’ interpretations of cognitive and somatic symptoms after both types of pep talks. Results revealed that positive pep talks had beneficial impacts upon the intensity and direction of anxiety symptoms and following performance, whereas, critically constructive pep talks had detrimental effects upon the intensity and direction of anxiety symptoms and subsequent performance. Specifically, all participants’ illustrated high self-confidence accompanied with positive interpretation of intensity. In general, positive performance outcomes were linked to positive pep talks, with explanations of relaxation, readiness and focus. Conversely, negative performance outcomes were linked to critically constructive pep talks, with explanations including increased pressure to succeed, lack of confidence and distraction. It was also observed that certain participants experienced positive performance outcomes following positive pep talks as well as critically constructive pep talks. Suggesting that there may be merit in researching the differences in anxiety responses of elite and non-elite performers following pep talks, and potentially athletes who are high in hardiness, compared to athletes who are low in hardiness.
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