Sport Psych-1- arousal and anxiety

  • Created by: livvvx
  • Created on: 03-05-19 21:33

Arousal and Anxiety (Biological)

Performance variations are largely the result of differences in your level of arousal and anxiety. The difference between winners and losers will be down to their ability to cope with arousal and anxiety.

-Stress= mismatch between the demands of the situation and the ability to cope (can be both positive and negative)

-Arousal= general levels of physical and psychological activstion; low when tired, bored or sleeping, high for fight or flight

-Anxiety= high arousal and worrying (always negative), unpleasant feeling

There are various aspects to anxiety, and psychologists have made important distinctions between state and trait anxiety, as well as cognitive and somatic anxiety;

  • state anxiety= anxiety that is situation dependent- typically experienced prior to/during a competition in sport- a temporary emotional state.
  • trait anxiety= anxiety related to an individual's general personality e.g. are they an anxious person?
  • cognitive anxiety= thoughts and mental processes that are causing a decline in performance e.g. self doubt, worry
  • somatic anxiety= psychological state that occurs when anxious e.g. heavy breathing- occurs as a consequence of adrenaline and other physiological changes

Drive Theory- Hull (1943)

Helps to explain the relationship between learning (skill) arousal and performance. 

Many young athletes are just beginning the process of becoming skilled performers. The effect of arousal is likely to be different on a beginner than upon a skilled performer.

Performance= arousal x skill level

Drive theory predicts that drive (essentially arousal) strengthens performance of dominant responses

This is useful as it can explain why experts can perform better under pressure and novices can 'crack'. It has also given insight into how to 'optimise' arousal in order to achieve better results.

But - the imoact between arousal and performance is perhaps more complex than this model suggests. Arousal can improve and/or devastate some athletes- such expl can't be explained by this model making it too basic/simplistic.

The inverted-U hypothesis- Yerkes and Dodson

Suggests that arousal improves performance up to a point. After this point, performance steadily decreases. If the athlete is not aroused enough, they will never reach their optimum level.

The inverted-U hypothesis failed to account for;

  • Diff levels of arousal required by diff types of skill to reach optimal performance e.g. putting golf=low, weight-lifting=high
  • nature of env- unpredictable env will make more cog demans- higher level of arousal will damage performance
  • individua; diffs in performance e.g. novice vs elite athlete

Oxendine (1980) extended the model to account for these ;

1- a high level of arousal is necessary for optimal performance in gross motor activities involving strength, endurance and speed.

2- a high level of arousal interferes with performance involving complex skills, fine motor movements , co-ordination and concentration

3- a slightly above average level of arousal is preferable to a normal or below average level of arousal for all motor tasks

Catastrophe Theory- Fazey & Hardy (1987)

Suggests that;

  • stress and anxiety will influence performance
  • each athlete will respond in a unique way to competitive anxiety
  • performance will be effected in a unique…


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