The present study was designed to examine precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns of junior elite wrestlers. Specifically, 458 wrestlers participating in the United States Wrestling Federation Junior National Championships rated their typical levels of anxiety at various times prior to and during competitions. The relationships between success, years wrestling experience, age, trait anxiety, and precompetitive and competitive state anxiety were examined using both univariate and regression analyses. Contrary to previous studies, no significant differences were found in precompetitive and competitive anxiety patterns between successful and less successful as well as more and less experienced wrestlers. In addition, age was not found to be related to either precompetitive or competitive anxiety. Consistent with the previous research, however, significant anxiety differences were found between high as compared to low trait anxious wrestlers. Descriptive statistics summarized across the entire sample also revealed that the wrestlers became nervous or worried in 67% of all their matches and that their nervousness sometimes helped and sometimes hindered their performance. The results were discussed in terms of individual differences, situation-specific responses to stress, and the need to employ multidimensional measures of anxiety. It was also suggested that researchers must be cautious in generalizing the findings of exploratory studies, especially when small, nonrandomized samples have been employed.
The authors would like to thank Steve Combs, Executive Director of the United States Wrestling Federation, for his invaluable assistance in conducting the study and Maureen Weiss for her assistance in the data collection. Sincere appreciation is also extended to the coaches and wrestlers who gave freely of their time to participate.
Requests for reprints should be sent to Daniel Gould, Department of Physical Education, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.