Document Detail

Anxiety and sport performance.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  1623887     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
From the findings summarized in this review, it appears that there is little evidence in support of the inverted-U hypothesis. Available research indicates that there is considerable variability in the optimal precompetition anxiety responses among athletes, which does not conform to the inverted-U hypothesis. Many athletes appear to perform best when experiencing high levels of anxiety and interventions that act to produce quiescence may actually worsen the performance of this group. These findings indicate that there is a need to shift the research paradigm away from theories of anxiety and performance based on task characteristics or group effects and, instead, employ theoretical models that account for individual differences. Hanin's [39, 40] ZOF theory appears to be a good candidate for furthering our knowledge in this area. It was developed on the basis of research with athletes and it explicitly incorporates the concept of individual differences in the anxiety-performance relationship. Most important, because an individual's optimal range of anxiety is precisely defined, the validity of ZOF theory can be directly examined through hypothesis testing, whereas it has been argued that the inverted-U hypothesis is effectively shielded against falsification [84]. Although the findings of ZOF theory indicate that a significant percentage of athletes perform best at high levels of anxiety, Hanin's translated writings do not provide an explanation of why this is so. Further research is clearly indicated, but one explanation for this finding may involve how the athlete interprets or conceptualizes anxiety. For example, Mahoney and Avener [64] found that, although the absolute level of precompetition anxiety was similar between successful and unsuccessful Olympic gymnasts, there were differences in the way the athletes conceptualized the anxiety they were experiencing. The better performers viewed their anxiety as desirable, whereas anxiety was associated with self-doubts and catastrophizing in the unsuccessful gymnasts. Similar differences have been observed in the test anxiety literature where it has been found that poorer test takers perceive their anxiety to be more threatening and debilitating than do better performers [45]. Furthermore, temporal differences in the patterning of anxiety [64], fear responses, or cardiorespiratory measures [28] have been found between successful and unsuccessful performers; this may reflect a difference in the ability to regulate anxiety. It may also be the case that performance is not so much affected by the absolute level of precompetition anxiety as the consistency in the anxiety level across competitions. Athletes may also develop coping strategies that exploit consistent changes in attentional focus that result from elevated anxiety.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
J S Raglin
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Exercise and sport sciences reviews     Volume:  20     ISSN:  0091-6331     ISO Abbreviation:  Exerc Sport Sci Rev     Publication Date:  1992  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1992-08-07     Completed Date:  1992-08-07     Revised Date:  2005-11-16    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0375434     Medline TA:  Exerc Sport Sci Rev     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  243-74     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Sports / psychology*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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