• Created by: z_mills1
  • Created on: 17-03-15 12:22

Different types of anxiety

Cognitive anxiety

  • psychological responses
  • thoughts and worries of performer
  • doubts in their ability to complete task 

Somatic anxiety

  • physiological responses of performer
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • muscles tension

State anxiety

  • anxiety felt in a particular situation/at a specific time

Trait anxiety

  • enduring personality trait -> performer generally perceives situations as threatening
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Measuring anxiety

Physiological methods

  • measure somatic anxiety -> increased HR, sweating and muscle tension
  • put performer in an artificial situation -> being in this situation creates anxiety by itself


  • looking for symptoms of changes in performer -> increased bodily movements + agitation
  • take place in artificial environment -> leads to extra anxiety
  • reliant on skill of observer + time consuming/expensive
  • if performer knows observation is occurring they may behave differently/become more anxious/increased state anxiety
  • observer needs to know normal behaviour patterns of performer for comparison 


  • responses to questions may not be true reflection of their feelings
  • quick to administer/cheap to produce
  • misinterpretation of questions/lack of understanding
  • questions may not allow for full answers/limited options to express emotions  
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Sport Competition Anxiety Test (****)

  • find out which competitiors are likely to become too anxious in competitive situations
  • self-report applied specifically to sports competitions
  • scoring gives indication of performer's level of state anxiety in competition-specific situations
  • coaches and psychologists can evaluate who needs help controlling anxiety

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

  • people rate how nervous they feel both in general (trait) and specific situations (state)
  • scoring gives indication of both state and trait anxiety of the performer

Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2)

  • measures cognitive and somatic anxiety in a competitive situation
  • given out on more than one occasion leading up to the event
  • enables researcher to compare baseline level of anxiety with pre-competition levels
  • also whether any aspect of anxiety becomes more evident in pre-competition period
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Cognitive techniques for controlling anxiety


  • 'calming image' to reduce anxiety -> creating mental images to escape the immediate effects of stress or anxiety/recreate a relxaing situation
  • 'image of success' to increase confidence -> creating a mental image of what you want to happen/lock in on perfect performance by going through emotions of successful performance

Visualisation/mental rehearsal

  • lock in on 'perfect performance' -> focusing on controlling performance by going through emotions of successful performance
  • reduces anxiety by diverting attention away from the cause/blocking out anxious thoughts

Positive self-talk

  • developing positive thoughts about one's actions
  • vital that self-talk remains positive and focuses on self-instructing/motivational content
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Cognitive techniques for controlling anxiety

Negative thought-stopping

  • conditioning the mind to think of alternatives to the anxiety-causing negative thought
  • used to block an unwanted thought before it escaltes/disrupts performance 
  • use of cue/action/word
  • helps to create a sharp refocus of attention/re-directs attention to positive thoughts
  • Example – key word – focus

Attentional control and cue utilisation

  • aims to improve the performer's ability to focus on the appropriate cues (cue utilisation)
  • number of errors caused by other distractions is reduced
  • to improve attentional control -> performer avoids negative thoughts/feelings 
  • -> performer must remained focused on present/relevant stimuli
  • Broad/external – used during games to detect fast changing situations and identify the best option
  • External/narrow – used to concentrate on specific objects or tasks, possibly with limited number of cues
  • Narrow/internal – used to mentally rehearse a skill or task 
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Somatic techniques for controlling anxiety

Biofeedback - info about changes in physiological variables/measuring physiological responses (HR monitor)

  • performer watches monitor displaying changes in HR -> tries to lower the reading by distracting their attention away from cause of anxiety/learn to recognise/control anxiety responses

Breathing control - using diaphragmatic/deep breathing as a means of foucsing on relaxation

  • breathe deeply in through nose -> expand abdomen fully -> breathe out slowly through mouth
  • may invlove repeating a key word (mantra) that helps relaxation  

Centering - using deep breathing as a way of refocusing concentration -> interrupting stressful situation

  • critical in helping you stay focused and avoid distractions

Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR)

  • often combined with effective breathing control
  • focus on specific muscle groups
  • contract muscles tightly -> hold in extreme tension -> relax muscles
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Goal setting

'a technique used to control anxiety by directing attention away from stress and towards an achieveable target' 

Specific - linked to performer/sport

Measurable - objective/not subjective

Agreed - involve the performer in setting the goals

Realistic - with performers ability/not demotivating

Time phased - set time for evaluation

Exciting - motivate the performer

Recorded - written for future reference

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Types of goals

Outcome goals

  • based on end result e.g. winning the match
  • method of achieving result is not important - 'win at all costs'
  • repeated attempts (failures) at achieving desired result leads to an increase in anxiety

Performance goals

  • based on performers own ability level e.g. linked to personal best time
  • setting realistic performance goals helps performer to concentrate on specific aspects of performance -> distract themsleves from stress i.e. only finishing 4th

Process goals

  • based on performers techniques/tactics e.g. slower backswing during bunker shot
  • often influence performance goals
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