Identifying the antecedents of facilitative and debilitative competitive anxiety and coping strategies used to enhance swimming performance.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the antecedents of facilitative and debilitative competitive anxiety and coping strategies used to enhance swimming performance. Six non-elite mixed gender university swimmers participated in the study, aged between 18 and 24. A qualitative research design was used to address the purpose of the study in the form of interviews. Firstly, the data collected from the interviews was analysed inductively to highlight the key antecedents and coping strategies reported by each participant. Secondly, the data was analysed deductively to identify the most common antecedents experienced by the participants. The results showed that readiness for competition was the most frequently reported antecedent that triggered both cognitive and somatic anxiety. These were interpreted to facilitate and debilitate performance depending on how ‘ready’ performers perceived themselves to be. Further to this, the study revealed that the use of psychological skills and the initiation coping strategies successfully controlled the intensity of debilitating symptoms and in some cases changed their direction on performance. They also helped to heighten the effect of facilitating symptoms, all of which had a positive impact on performance. The results of this present study will be beneficial for performers in the competitive environment, especially those who tend to perceive anxiety as negative. The study provides useful information about how psychological skills can better prepare athletes to cope with competitive anxiety and perceive it as something which can facilitate performance.
DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS) SPORT AND EXERCISE SCIENCE
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