The perceived impact of competitive state anxiety over performance; a study determining the differences between individual and team sports athletes.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences between interpretations of competitive state anxiety within sub-elite, individual and team sport athletes, and how these potentially affected performance. Qualitative methods were adopted incorporating a series of semi-structured interviews (n=10), conducted with male, individual (n=5) and team (n=5) sport athletes. The athletes’ responses were recorded, with transcriptions inductively and deductively analysed. Eight causal networks were developed to display the results. The main findings revealed no major distinguishable differences between individual and team athletes, in terms of overall control, intensity and somatic anxiety. One finding, however, suggested that being a team athlete resulted in more cognitive anxiety. Lowered self-confidence was associated with debilitative interpretations of anxiety symptoms by both sets of athletes; interestingly, only the individual sport athletes associated increased selfconfidence with facilitative perceptions. The utilisation of a coping strategy was seen to lead performers to a facilitative interpretation, with further findings providing evidence to support the Processing Efficiency Theory (Eysenck and Calvo, 1992). The implications of this study suggest a reduction approach to cognitive anxiety symptoms should be adopted when working with team sport athletes; however, individual athletes would benefit from a cognitive restructuring approach to symptoms. Further, it can be suggested that all sub-elite athletes would benefit from the acquisition of psychological strategies to promote facilitative interpretations, and an increase of self-confidence and self-efficacy to act as a buffer against debilitating perceptions of anxiety. The results suggest that investigating team versus individual sport athletes, holds promise for a further research avenue in examining the relationship of competitive state anxiety and performance.
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