Anxiety and Competitive Sports

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When athletes prepare for a competition or performance, mental health is often neglected and not given a second thought. The athlete will condition their body, physically readying themselves to be pushed during competition. However, it might be worthwhile if athletes asked themselves how their mental health could affect their performance.

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Various studies have been conducted to observe the ways anxiety, in particular, can alter performance from practice to competitions. Anxiety may be reported by an athlete when they are unsure of whether they can handle situations contributing stress (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1995). Martens, et al (1990) contributed three subscales, used to describe athlete’s anxiety participating in various sports, onto the existing knowledge of anxiety and athletic performance. These three subscales include cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence, which all play a role in an athlete’s performance. This multidimensional anxiety theory suggests that cognitive anxiety will negatively effect performance if arousal is high, entailing a negative linear relation with performance (Hardy, et al., 1996). On the other hand, somatic anxiety displays a curvilinear relation and self-confidence has a positive linear relation with performance (Martens, et al., 1990).

A common questionnaire that was completed in various studies was the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2, 30 minutes to an hour before competition (Tsopani, Dallas, Skordilis, 2011). The Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 measures the intensity of symptoms which in turn can determine the presence of anxiety. When participants take this CSAI-2 they respond to 27 items rating each on a 4-point scale; using 1: not at all and 4: very much so (Martens, et al., 1990). A greater presence in these three subscales are indicated by higher scores. These results help to determine how an athlete feels concerning the competition at hand and how it may affect performance. Questioning how anxiety can affect an athlete during competitive play is important to improving their skills. Performance is not only determined by physical readiness, but also by an athlete’s mental state. It is hypothesized that athletes who contribute time towards their mental health will perform better. Additionally, those showing little symptoms of anxiety will perform better than those showing more.

Cognitive anxiety increases worry or doubt, threatening an athlete’s persuit and well-being. When cognitive anxiety is low is when an athlete will perform the best (Kais, Raudsepp,

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