Psychological Analysis of Athletes' Anxiety Responses

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Ithaca College
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Athletes' self-reported perceptions of and responses to anxiety-eliciting situations were probed for the purposes of describing athletes' anxiety profiles. Intrapersonal variables were used to explain the individual differences evident in the data. College male basketball athletes (N = 40) were administered the following four paper-and-pencil inventories: S-R inventory of anxiousness in basketball, similarity of basketball situations, Sport Competition Anxiety Test (competitive trait anxiety), and personal assessment questionnaire (perceived success and ability). Anxiety factors (outcome uncertainty, outcome certainty, ego threat) were deciphered through principal components analysis. Athletes' anxiety responses varied partially with their perceptions of the situations, congruent with the tenets of the interactional model of behavior. Through individual differences analysis, athletes' anxiety responses across all basketball situations were labeled ego threat, outcome certainty/uncertainty, and anticipation. In a multivariate sense, intrapersonal variables (perceived success and ability, and competitive trait anxiety) accounted for 47% of the anxiety response variance. Outcome and efficacy expectations bear direct relevance to the comprehension of competitive sport anxiety.

This investigation was supported in part by a research grant from the Ithaca College School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Research Fund. Appreciation is extended to Aurieia Frye and Lary Jones for their assistance in data analysis and interpretation. Thanks are also due to Norman Endler, Walter Kroll, Daniel Landers, and Tara Scanlan who suggested improvements to the original manuscript. They are, however, blameless for any of the authors' errors in judgment, inaccuracies, and overgeneralizations. Requests for reprints should be sent to A. Craig Fisher, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY 14850.

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