Anxiety in Sports Essays

Anxiety in Sports Essays

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Many athletes would agree that they have felt butterflies in their stomach or a sudden rush of adrenaline before an important game. This feeling can either translate into legendary performances or monumental failures. According to Sharon D. Hoar (2007), to fully comprehend anxiety’s effect on performance, one must understand the discrimination between two unique sets of sources: trait and state anxiety, and cognitive and somatic anxiety. Anxiety symptoms are numerous and unique to every athlete. Hoar suggests that athletes might report cognitive symptoms (eg. Inability to focus), somatic symptoms (eg. Sweaty palms), or both. The author discusses a variety of sources of anxiety and argues that it can have both positive and negative effects on performance. Anxiety has a significant affect on athletes and garners numerous research studies pertaining to performance.
Anxiety, like motivation, occurs from a combination of personal, situational, mental, and physical factors. First, Hoar (2007) describes trait anxiety as a consistent part of a person’s disposition, whereas state anxiety changes depending on the situation. Second, the author posits that cognitive anxiety can affect mental processes which translate into the reduced ability to concentrate, conversely somatic anxiety affects athletes physiologically, often resulting in symptoms like clammy hands and a racing heartbeat.
Hoar (2007) discusses that athletes often perceive anxiety differently based on situational factors. These factors include: sport type, team role, and importance of event. For example, an athlete might feel more anxiety before an event if their role on the team is substantial (ie. Captain) or if a game is at a pivotal point in the season. Personally, I pe...


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...on to discover possible reasons for optimal performance at these competitive state anxiety levels. Further, I would conduct comparative analysis between each athletes’ optimal level of anxiety and their statistics from their previous season, with the goal of providing insight about which level of anxiety translates into better performance.
Anxiety is undoubtedly an issue that affects almost all athletes. This research will provide insight into why athletes perform best at varying levels of anxiety, and also intends to contribute valuable information about which of these levels translates into the best performance. Knowledge of this study will no doubt aid in the progression of anxiety research, and also will provide valuable information to athletes about the effects of anxiety, more specifically that anxiety does not always have to translate to poor performance.

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