A QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF DIFFERING LEVELS OF ANXIETY IN A COMPETITIVE EQUESTRIAN DRESSAGE PERFORMANCE
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to discover the impact of differing levels of anxiety on equestrian dressage competitive performance using a mixed method approach. 8 female amateur dressage riders aged 15-50 volunteered to participate. Using the Mental Readiness Form-3 (MRF-3) participants’ cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence scores were collected before a competitive dressage test performance. Participants’ competitive score sheets were then studied, increases and decreases in movement scores were identified. Semi-structured interviews took place after competition, anxiety scores before increase and decrease scores were examined. Using MRF-3 to identify anxiety scores, each participant was asked about causes and impacts of anxiety on each movement and about any coping strategies used. A cross-analysis revealed performance impacts were dependent on how participants’ perceived original causal factors of anxiety experienced. During a decrease score, the most frequent causal anxiety factor was the performance of the specific movement, the largest impact on performance was loss of accuracy. During increased movement scores participants reported feelings of self-confidence and viewed anxiety as facilitative. Increased tension was reported more frequently when decrease scores were described. Self-confidence was influential on whether participants coped with the initial causes of anxiety. If self-confidence was low, the likelihood of staying calm and relaxed decreased, chances of increased tension and anxiety lasting throughout more than one movement increased. Practical implications of study findings suggested the use of various mental skills and methods to improve participants’ preparation before competition in an attempt to decrease debilitative causal factors of anxiety and improve overall selfconfidence levels. Future research recommendations were based on study strengths and weaknesses.
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