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Abstract: This review of research of performance anxiety examines the correlations between performance anxiety, social anxiety, and

high pressure performance situations. Included in this review are studies in which participants are subjected to questionnaires and specific situations to measure their anxiety reactions and therefore reach conclusions about links to high anxiety periods in athletics. The conclusion of this review discusses results, validity concerns, and recommendations in the area of examination and research among the topic. Introduction: According to our text, Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology by Robert S. Weinberg and Daniel Gould, anxiety is a negative emotional state characterized by nervousness, worry, and apprehension and associated with activation or arousal of the body(Weinberg, & Gould, 2007). There are several subcategories of anxiety that one must first be familiar with to better understand what contributes to performance anxiety. Cognitive anxiety is the anxiety that is directly related to our thought processes, because to become anxious we first must have a thought about a negative feeling. Also, somatic anxiety is another aspect that comes into play, which is the physical component. These two components encompass the mental and physical sides associated with anxiety. In addition to cognitive and somatic anxiety, it is crucial to understand the meanings and differences between state anxiety and trait anxiety. State anxiety refers to anxiety present at any given time. State anxiety fluctuates and is continuously changing throughout an experience. For example, a baseball players state anxiety may fluctuate in intensity throughout an at bat. The intensity can vary from pitch to pitch and the ever changing situation on the field. A player may feel more anxious about a situation if the count is three balls and no strikes compared to one ball and two strikes. Trait anxiety on the other hand is more individualized and reflects ones personality consistencies. Trait anxiety usually is not indicative of the actual dangers or mental ramifications of any given situation but can be directly related to a persons intensity of state anxiety. To put it simply, a persons individual reaction to trait anxiety can lead to an under or over reactive state anxiety. So the question is what factors are responsible for these types of anxiety and performance anxiety? In preparation for this research, numerous studies dealing with performance anxiety and high anxiety situations were examined. The goal of meshing these studies is to find direct causes and situations that trigger anxiety, and evaluate methods that decrease or eliminate factors that influence pressure and anxiety. Research: Throughout the research process, it was noticed that most studies conducted in this area were related to subjects who felt greater anxiety levels in situations in which they felt they may be pressured not to fail or in situations where the fear of disappointing others including themselves directly correlated to their anxiety levels. One of the more popular situations where anxiety in sports appeared throughout my research was the correlation between performance anxiety and social anxiety. A study conducted by Peter J. Norton, examined participation, gender, and parental pressures on collegiate aged adults. The study examined several measures of anxiety, notably the BFNE, or Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation through a questionnaire with multiple scenarios and questions relevant to high anxiety situations. This measure evaluated the fear the participants had in being evaluated while participating in sports. The results concluded that BFNE, was directly correlated with sport anxiety questions on the questionnaire, additionally, the IAS or Interaction Anxious Scale was directly correlated to all sport anxiety questions

(Norton, Burns, Hope, & Bauer, 2000). The study showed significant correlations between social situations and the perception of being evaluated by peers even in non competitive situations leading to a lack of participation due to social and performance anxiety factors. The subjects in this study had varying levels and interpretations of anxiety situations, however, most had the highest levels of anxiety when questioned about situations they may be individually evaluated, such as individual sports. As previously stated, this study was solely based on the subjects answers to questions about anxiety filled situations. While this study does show correlations between situations and direct responses to those situations, it lacks the variable of actual participation in those situations. To have had the participants incorporated into the situations in a reasonable amount of time leading up to the questionnaire, more could have been learned about links between specific situations and increased validity. One of the ways sports psychologists attempt to aid athletes, coaches, and parents in decreasing performance anxiety is through motivational techniques. Rather than focusing strictly on performance and outcome, these techniques incorporate a task based approach. In these types of approaches it is not so much the outcome that is focused on, but the intensity of effort. Numerous studies have shown anxiety has been known to affect performance, as well as participation and enjoyment of the activity. By using these task based approaches, there is evidence that anxiety can be lowered in all facets and lead to a more enjoyable experience including higher participation levels and enjoyment. Since most athletes who suffer from performance anxiety in one form or another directly relate anxiety to the fear of failure, concentrating on a controllable outcome rather than one with very little control allows athletes to reduce anxiety levels. A study published relevant to this new type of approach implementing CET, or Coaching Education Training showed a direct link to participants in the program and a decrease in anxiety among players. The study, appearing in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that players that played under coaches instructed in the program saw a decrease in forms of anxiety, and felt less pressure to perform thus reducing trait anxiety as well as affecting both cognitive and somatic anxiety levels (Smith, Smoll, & Cumming, 2007). Using this type of approach in seemingly eliminating the stresses that appear in win lose, pass fail, situations has a direct link to motivation as well as enjoyment. By setting these types of task oriented goals as evaluation rather than evaluate and motivate solely on successful completion, it is possible to incorporate these results on young athletes and in turn decrease their future anxiety issues. In addition, coaches and parents who initiate positive reinforcement to lower the fear of failing can help athletes control their anxiety states. By focusing on dissociating failure from consequences, and injecting reinforcement that focuses on positive aspects as well as information anxiety reactions can be changed over time (Conroy, 2008). Coping with performance anxiety begins with identifying underlying factors as well as situations of peak anxiety levels. The athletes own perception of their severity of performance anxiety is also instrumental in tacking performance anxiety specifically, facilitative versus debilitative. Several variables come into play regarding personal identification of stress inducing situations. Individual variables as well as links to personality variables can explain a lot about an individuals reaction to what they associate as stressful situations. Highly anxious athletes have been found to interpret neutral situations and information in a threatening way, concentrating on any negative connotation (Mullen, Lane, & Hanton, 2009). Introducing psychological training measures has been shown to aid athletes in controlling and in some cases eliminating much of their performance anxiety issues. By recreating situations that induce stress and anxiety and implementing strategies such as imagery and visualization as well as cognitive restructuring

athletes have shown increases in their abilities to use their anxiety in a positive way in competition. One study in particular used four different strategies on a group of athletes suffering from performance anxiety. Simulation training, over learning of skills, cognitive restructuring, and pre performance routines were all implemented and yielded positive results in the participants. The strategies were able to induce positive images, facilitate anxiety to performance, and positively influence their thoughts about competition (Hanton, Wadey, & Mellalieu 2008). Using these strategies, in addition with social support and task based approaches from coaches and parents significantly affected the attitudes of the participants in these studies. Analysis: The conclusions reached in these studies clearly points to a link between social and performance anxiety. In this review of literature there is strong evidence to support social pressures and their effects on participants in sport. There is also evidence to support the correlations between lower levels of anxiety in relation to task based approaches by coaches and parents. The perceived outcome of the event was shown to play an important role in the levels of anxiety reported in the studies. The introduction of programs that use psychological strategies to overcome performance anxiety issues were also found to be beneficial, however, these practices must be adhered to consistently to achieve optimal results. Recommendations: Several recommendations are warranted for the research and studies presented above. Questionnaires can be extremely helpful in pinpointing specific situations in which an athlete may experience peaks of anxiety, however not subjecting the participants to each situation in close proximity to administering the questions decreases valid response possibility. Participants in these types of studies may have to think back to a similar situation they were in, omitting or adding variables from distant memory. The methodology of recreating a situation once experienced lacks the aspect of real time reactions and presents opportunities for inaccuracies to occur. More studies need to be performed where the methodology is focused on evaluations in close proximity to actual events such as performances or games so the reactions and responses can be as unflawed as possible. References Conroy, D. (2008). Fear of Failure in the Context of Competitive Sport: A Commentary. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 3(2), 179-183. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database Hanton, S., Wadey, R., & Mellalieu, S. (2008). Advanced Psychological Strategies and Anxiety Responses in Sport. Sport Psychologist, 22(4), 472-490. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database Mullen, R., Lane, A., & Hanton, S. (2009). Anxiety symptom interpretation in high-anxious, defensive high-anxious, low-anxious and repressor sport performers. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 22(1), 91-100. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database Norton, P.J., Burns, J.A., Hope, D.A., & Bauer, B.K. (2000). Generalization of social anxiety to sporting and athletic situations:gender,sports involvement, and parental pressure. Depression and Anxiety, 12

Smith, R., Smoll, F., & Cumming, S. (2007). Effects of a Motivational Climate Intervention for Coaches on Young Athletes' Sport Performance Anxiety. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 29(1), 39-59. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database Weinberg, Robert, & Gould, Daniel. (2007). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. Human Kinetics Publishers


Sport Psychology 2010-03