Which anxiety dimension do participants in team sports perceive as the most influential upon preparation and performance?
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Competitive anxiety has been a popular topic within sports psychology research. However, previous research has failed to identify the influence of all three anxiety dimensions upon performance. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate how influential performers perceived the intensity, frequency and direction of anxiety upon their preparation and performance. Participants were female footballers [n=7] currently competing in the British University Premier division. Participants gave their consent to take part in the study, which involved a series of semi-structured interviews. Before the interview process could occur, all participants were asked to complete ‘thoughts and feeling diaries. The diaries were administered once during the early preparation phase, and again during the late preparation phase. These were then used to aid recall during the interviews. Causal networks were then produced for the three main phases of the anxiety response; early preparation, late preparation and competition. The main findings indicated that performers’ perceived direction as the most influential upon their preparation. Participants felt that if their symptoms were facilitative then the intensity and frequency of their anxiety was insignificant. Participants identified the combination of frequency and direction as the most influential component during competition. These findings provide support for research criticising the intensity-alone approach. Subsequently, the findings highlight the importance of direction and frequency dimensions, and provide an interesting avenue for future research. Key words: Anxiety, intensity, frequency, direction, performance.
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