The purpose of the present experiment was to examine whether the use of selfhandicapping strategies influences participants’ anxiety levels before athletic performance. Seventy-one competitive basketball players participated in the study. A repeated measures design was used, such that state cognitive and somatic anxiety intensity and direction were measured before and after participants were given the opportunity to self-handicap. Overall, participants reported their cognitive anxiety to be more facilitating after they had the opportunity to self-handicap. Thus, participants who were given the opportunity to self-handicap (i.e., use claimed and behavioral self-handicaps), reported greater increases in perceptions of cognitive anxiety as facilitating their performance. This study shows the importance of looking at anxiety direction, and not just anxiety intensity, when examining self-handicapping’s effects on anxiety. Implications for sport psychologists are proposed.
Coudevylle and Martin Ginis are with McMaster University, Canada. Famose is with the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France. Gernigon are with the Université de Montpellier, France.