Arousal

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Drive Theory

Drive Theory

  • As the level of arousal increases, performance improves in a linear fashion
  • P = D x H (performance is the product of drive and habit)
  • The athlete is initially motivated by the challenge of the task and increased effort brings success and the drive to continue performing
  • At high levels of arousal the ability to take in information from the environment is reduced and performers may only focus on the dominant response
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Drive Reduction Theory

Drive Reduction Theory

  • Motivation is high at the start of the learning process, but once success has been achieved the initial drive is lost
  • The drive is replaced with satisafaction
  • A new challenge or extension is needed to provide further motivation
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The Inverted U theory

The Inverted U theory

  • Increase in arousal can improve performance up to an optimum point, which occurs at a moderate level of arousal
  • further increases in arousal have a detrimental effect on perfrormance
  • Therefore, both low and high levels of arousal can produce a performance that is below our best
  • The best level of arousal for optimum performance varies according to the task being attempted and the personality and expertise of the performer:
  • Experts - cope well with high levels of arousal because they are experienced with dealing with pressures of performance
  • Extroverts have naturally low levels of adrenaline and are better able to cope with increases in adrenaline levels
  • The amount of stimulation required to provoke increases in arousal and adrenaline is dtermined by the Reticular Activating System (RAS) - the centre of arousal and motivation in mammals:
  • Simple tasks require little decision making
  • Gross skills can be peformed ar high arousal because they require less control and more muscular involvement
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Cue Utilisation Hypothesis

Cue Utilisation Hypothesis

  • The number of environmental cues we can process is related to our level of arousal
  • At low levels of arousal the performer has the capacity to take in a relatively large amount of information but it may cause confusion.
  • At high arousal, performance may be at a lower level as the performer tends to focus on less information and therefore important cues may be missed
  • At moderate arousal, performance tends to be at a high level because the player concentrates at just the right amount of information and picks up all the relevant cues.
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Catastrophe Theory

Catastrophe Theory

  • Increases in arousal improve performance up to a certain point but then, a further increase pushes the performer over the edge and performance falls dramatically
  • Causes: worry about not playing well, threat of a difficult opponent or playing in front of a big crowd
  • Changes in the situation can cause a sufficient increase in arousal to invoke the catastrophe
  • The catastrophe is caused by a combination of cognitive and somatic anxieties
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The Zone

The Zone - an energised, yet controlled, frame of mind that is focused on the task

  • Sometimes, athletes reach a level of performance that is both anxiety free and technically near perfect
  • Is characterised by feelings of calm despite the intense pressure
  • A sense of supreme confidence exists and the performer is almost totally immersed in the action
  • The resultant performance is near perfect, with few errors, lots of energy and correct decision making
  • The zone of optimal functioning (ZOF), proposed by the psychologist Hanin, is another adaptation of the inverted U theory
  • It suggests that the optimum level of arousal varies depending on the type of task being performed and the person performing
  • The best performance can be achieved when the challenge of the task is appropriate to the performers skill
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