Stress and Emotions in basketball: Impact on free-throw performance
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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To further previous research already conducted into the stress and emotion process within sport (Nicholls & Polman, 2007; Neil, Hanton, Mellalieu & Fletcher, 2011; Nicholls, Polman & Levy, 2012; Neil, Bayston, Hanton & Wilson, 2013), the present study holistically examined whether and, if so, how stress and emotions differ between elite and sub-elite female basketballers during competitive free-throw situations. No previous research had covered basketball. Twelve athletes, aged between 18 and 29 years (M age = 23.3, SD age = 4.0) completed the Stress Appraisal Questionnaire (SAM) and Sport Emotion Questionnaire (SEQ). Completion of these was supported alongside edited video footage of the participants’ free-throw performance to produce measures for stress, primary appraisal, secondary appraisal and emotions within one investigation. Following analyses, the results did not find any significant differences for the stressfulness, primary appraisals and emotions experienced between the elite and sub-elite groups. Interestingly, the study did reveal a significant difference for the controllable-by-self secondary appraisal between the two groups. These findings are important in relation to Lazarus’s (1991, 1999) Cognitive Motivational Relational Theory of Emotions (CMRT) because they suggest that the stress process for elite and sub-elite female basketball players during competitive free-throw situations is relatively the same. However in particular, the elite group appraised having more coping potential to be able to control the stressful encounter(s), compared to the sub-elite group who appraised themselves as having less coping potential, and therefore less controllability. This key finding suggests to sports practitioners and coaches that they should help sub-elite athletes to increase their appraisal of coping potential within competitive free-throw situations. Furthermore, the main finding also supports the need of use of psychological interventions by sub-elite athletes during free-throw performance. Thus, goal setting and specifically the use of process goals has been suggested to increase coping potential.
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