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The Relationship Between Competition Anxiety and Performance

The Relationship Between Competition Anxiety and Performance
Performance anxiety is believed by researchers to be related to trait, cognitive, somatic,
and confidence factors. The correlation of any or all of these factors can have a positive or
negative effect on sports outcomes (Ramis, Viladrich, Sousa, & Jannes, 2015). Recent research
(Bebetsos & Goulimaris, 2015) with mid-distance runners supported a correlation between
confidence factors during practice as well as actual meets primarily in relation to their somatic
component. According to this study, mid-distance runners were more focused on their heart rates
and breathing, i.e., their internal states rather than outside factors (Bebetsos & Goulimaris,
Students recently conducted a study to examine the relationship between competitive
state anxiety and performance when involved in a new task. The task selected was putting a golf
ball with driver for ten trials. Based upon the data collected from the plot diagrams there was a
curvilinear relationship between the participants’ cognitive state and performance anxiety. The
implication of these results are that cognitive based anxiety was higher in the beginning, but with
more tries at putting, the cognitive state actually had a positive impact on participants’
performance. Therefore, with these participants, these findings suggest their level of cognitive
anxiety was state anxiety, as it was related to the task at hand, rather than static factors.
Regarding self-confidence, the results from the collected data were also a curvilinear,
with some outliers. Based upon these data, with some participants the level of confidence
remained static, whether high or low, no matter how many tries, the implications of these
findings is that athletes with high self-confidence levels will not lose self-confidence based upon
a single incident. Self-confidence is more directly related to the trait factor, rather than state
(Ashford, Karageorghis, & Jackson, 2005). There could be minor and momentary shifts in self-
confidence relative to performance, but these level out once circumstances or state resumes
normalcy. Conversely, athletes with low self-confidence component did not perform any
differently; again indicating that self-confidence is primarily static and does not have a
significant impact upon performance.
Based upon findings, the somatic component levels of anxiety remained relatively high in
all participants, but there was a correlation with the number of puts and the level of somatic
manifestations. These data are consistent with recent studies supporting claims that an
individual’s cognitive state can manifest in physiological or somatic forms (Grös, Antony,
Simms, & McCabe, 2007)The implications of these data are that the somatic anxiety levels are
more prevalent when faced with a novel physical activity, this bearing a direct correlation
between confidence in physical performance, regardless of levels of confidence in cognitive
ability or static self-confidence.
The existence of anxiety is often related to personality, or the trait factor. Certain
individuals are simply more prone to experiencing anxiety, and often there is no specific trigger.
Individuals, especially athletes and performers, often experience state anxiety, which is anxiety
related to their present circumstances or state. A person’s state is often relative to their cognitive
state, the mental state, regarding a performance and this can have either a negative or positive
impact upon performance, manifesting itself philologically, the somatic component. This could
be increased hear rate, breathing rate, sweating, or even present itself with stomach ailments
(Grös et al., 2007).
Competitive anxiety is believed to be a combination of an athletes external and internal
state (Stoeber, Otto, Pescheck, Becker, & Stoll, 2007). Confidence in physical ability,
preparation, and cognitive state have an impact. Competition is by its very nature the act of
comparing one to the other, with the idea that one is better. The athletes cognitive state is
impacted by this external focus of how the component stacks up.
Performance or competitive anxiety is not always a bad thing. Some individuals actually
perform better under pressure (“Endocrinology; Just the expectation of laughter boosts
endorphins and human growth hormones,” 2006). This may be directly related to states of fight
or flight, and this is when the entire body works either together to bring about an acceptable
outcome, or works against itself out of fear of a negative outcome. The best performers and
athletes learn to re-channel their anxiety so that it works in their favor, rather than against them.
In fact, some performers actually find that when engaged in a performance related task they have
been able to overcome certain manifestations such as stuttering, or picking behaviors
(Derryberry & Reed, 2002).
Ashford, K. J., Karageorghis, C. I., & Jackson, R. C. (2005). Modeling the relationship between
self-consciousness and competition anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences,
38(4), 903–918. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2004.06.015
Bebetsos, E., & Goulimaris, D. (2015). Examination of “Pre-competition” anxiety levels, of middistance runners: A quantitative approach. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 46(3).
Derryberry, D., & Reed, M. A. (2002). Anxiety-related attentional biases and their regulation by
attentional control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(2), 225–236.
Endocrinology; Just the expectation of laughter boosts endorphins and human growth hormones.
(2006). Science Letter; Atlanta, 748.
Grös, D. F., Antony, M. M., Simms, L. J., & McCabe, R. E. (2007). Psychometric Properties of
the State-Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA): Comparison to
the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Psychological Assessment; Arlington, 19(4),
Ramis, Y., Viladrich, C., Sousa, C., & Jannes, C. (2015). Exploring the factorial structure of the
Sport Anxiety Scale-2: Invariance across language, gender, age and type of sport.
Psicothema, 27(2), 174–181.
Stoeber, J., Otto, K., Pescheck, E., Becker, C., & Stoll, O. (2007). Perfectionism and competitive
anxiety in athletes: Differentiating striving for perfection and negative reactions to
imperfection. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(6), 959–969.
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