Causes of anxiety in sport


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  • Anxiety includes state and trait dimensions both of which can show themselves as cognitive and somatic symptoms. An athlete with high anxiety traitis likely to be more anxious in stressful situations. To help the athlete control competitive anxiety somatic techniquesand cognitive techniques can be used.
  • Somatic state anxiety- performers perceptions of their physical arousalCognitive state anxiety – related to the mental appraisal of arousal- can be both negative and positive. Anxiety includes state and trait dimensions both of which can show themselves as cognitive and somatic symptoms. An athlete with high anxiety trait is likely to be more anxious in stressful situations. To help the athlete control competitive anxiety somatic techniques (relaxation) and cognitive techniques (mental imagery)can be used.
  • There are many factors which can influence state anxiety upon a sportsperson whilst preparing for or participating in their sport. The above causes (read out) can all occur before the sport, but anxiety levels can also be affected during their participation due to factors such as the crowd or oppositions reactions, if there is interaction with the opposition or an injury occurring. These factors can all interfere with the ability of the athlete, as severe pressure and worry may lead them to not performing to their full potential due to negative thoughts or expectations of failing. An example of a factor affecting performance is receiving a bad response from the crowd, as this may lower their confidence, therefore affecting their outcome. Lower level athletes are more likely to suffer from severe anxiety than high level elite athletes, as they are not as used to the pressure or what to expect. Also, an athlete who performs individually is more likely to suffer than one who plays in a team, as a team can share the pressure whereas an individual takes it all upon themselves.
  • In 1990 Martens devised a test of 15 questions to measure whether a person had low, average or high levels of anxiety. The person taking the test measured each statement as rarely, sometimes, and often, and each has a score. At the end of the test the person totals up their score from their answers to get a final result, which therefore decides their level of anxiety. The fifteen statements are shown. A person will have a low level of anxiety if their score is below 17, an average level of anxiety falls between scoring 17 and 24, and anything over 24 classes that person as having a high level of anxiety.
  • Causes of anxiety in sport

    1. 1. Anxiety“Anxiety is the negative aspect of experiencingstress. It is the worry that is experienced due to fear of failure” (Honeybourne 2003)
    2. 2. TypesCognitive Anxiety•When a sports person may think about concerns of underachieving fromunpleasant thoughts.•Often the stage before somatic anxiety.•Often experience problems with concentration replaces mental images ofsuccess with failure. Somatic Anxiety •Result of a performers negative perception of the body’s physiological reactions to stress. •Due to the reaction of their body to stress the performer worries more. •Likely to have a queasy stomach and increased sweating.
    3. 3. State anxiety•Some people are more anxious that others in particularsituations•Can be either somatic state anxiety or cognitive stateanxiety. Trait anxiety •The persons usual behavioural tendency to become worried about environment. •Has a tendency to overreact and usually develops high levels of arousal easily and quickly.
    4. 4. COMMON SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY• COGNITIVE ANXIETY- indecision, confusion, negative thoughts, poor concentration, irritability, loss of confidence, images of failure.• SOMATIC ANXIETY - increased blood pressure, sweating, adrenaline boost, need to urinate, muscle tension, pacing, yawning, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, loss of libido• BEHAVIOURAL ANXIETY - biting fingernails, lethargic movements, fidgeting, avoidance of eye contact, covering face with hand
    5. 5. CAUSES OF ANXIETY IN SPORT-fear of failing or a bad performance-fear of bad feed back or evaluationpoints-fear of the competition from the event-fear of an injury occurring and theathlete having no control
    6. 6. SPORT COMPETITION ANALYSIS TEST (SCAT)1. Competing against others is socially enjoyable2. Before I compete I feel uneasy3. Before I compete I worry about not performing well4. I am a good sportsman when I compete5. When I compete, I worry about making mistakes6. Before I compete I am calm7. Setting a goal is important when competing8. Before I compete I get a queasy feeling in my stomach9. Just before competing, I notice my heart beats faster than usual10. I like to compete in games that demands a lot of physical energy11. Before I compete I feel relaxed12. Before I compete I am nervous13. Team sports are more exciting than individual sports14. I get nervous wanting to start the game15. Before I compete I usually get uptight
    7. 7. Another test was created after the SCAT test- Competitive state anxietyinventory (CSAI).This test was said to be more thorough and a better test that the SCATtest, as it distinguishes the differences between somatic and cognitiveanxiety making it multidimensional.