A reconceptualisation of experience in sport and its relationship with competitive anxiety
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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The purpose of the research question for the current study was twofold. Firstly, the notion of experience in sport was to be reconceptualised by generating a more holistic definition and a set of characteristics thought to be possessed by the experienced performer. Secondly, the study attempted to identiff how and why experience effects the interpretation of competitive symptoms associated with anxiety. To answer the research question a triangulation of methods were employed. An initial focus group, consisting of three participants, selected using purposive sampling techniques was conducted to elicit information concerning the definition of experience, as well as generating an initial body of information on the phenomenon of experience in sport. Follow-up individual interviews were then conducted with six elite athletes averaging 4.8 ± 1 years of senior international experience. Combined conversational and standardised open-ended interviews, lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, were utilised to provide support for the previously constructed definition and to examine how the participants learned from both positive and negative critical incidents in attempts to better interpret and control competitive symptoms. A combination of inductive and deductive content analysis procedures revealed that each temporal phase of the critical incidents were causally linked, allowing the data to be presented via causal networks. Subsequent composite sequence analysis was then conducted to summarise networks for both the positive and negative incidents. The resulting definition encapsulated a process of exposure, reflection and learning, while the 14 characteristics covered both personal and situational elements. Findings from the individual interviews indicated distinctions between the effects of positive and negative experiences on subsequent appraisal of competitive symptoms, as well as higruighting the necessity of reflective practice in the generation of knowledge concerning competitive symptoms. The findings present some new and potentially important implications for athletes, coaches and sport psychologists alike.
MSc Sport and Exercise Science
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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