Stress, Emotion, and Performance in Elite Slalom Canoeists

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Jonathan R. Males University of Nottingham

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John H. Kerr University of Tsukuba

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This paper examines the relationship between precompetitive affect and performance, using elements of reversal theory (Apter, 1982): a conceptual framework that incorporates a full range of pleasant and unpleasant moods. Nine elite male slalom canoeists completed questionnaires prior to each event of a season that included the world championships. Results were analyzed using a time-series model to make comparisons of each subject’s best and worst performance of the season. Predicted variations in precompetitive levels of pleasant and unpleasant mood did not occur, despite variations in subsequent performances. As predicted, good performances were preceded by low discrepancies between felt and preferred arousal levels, but there was no support for the hypothesis that a large discrepancy between perceived stress and coping efforts would precede a poor performance.

Jonathan R. Males is with the Centre for Organizational Health and Development, Department of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom NG7 2RD. John H. Kerr is with the Institute for Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, Ibavaki 305, Japan.

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