Two issues regarding the arousal-performance relationship in sport were addressed in this study: the relationship between task complexity, optimal arousal, and maximal performance, and the appropriateness of using various measures of performance. Data were collected from high school athletes (n=51) across four track and field meets. State anxiety was obtained prior to each performance and three performance measures were obtained (event results, and quality of performance evaluated by the athlete and by the coach). Results indicated that the three performance measures were not equally related to A-state, suggesting that the relationship between arousal and performance results in a different description depending upon the performance measure that is used. Furthermore, degree of task complexity could not be distinguished across various track and field events. When individual events were used to examine the arousal-performance/task complexity relationship, results revealed that level of A-state needed for maximal performance could not be differentiated for specific events, nor could it be determined for above average, average, or below average performances on any one event.
Vicki Ebbeck and Maureen R. Weiss are with the Department of Human Movement Studies, Esslinger Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.