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This study examined the use of four advanced psychological strategies (i.e., simulation training, cognitive restructuring, preperformance routines, and overlearning of skills) and subsequent competitive anxiety responses. Semistructured interviews were employed with eight highly elite athletes from a number of team and individual sports. Participants reported using each strategy to enable them to interpret their anxiety-response as facilitative to performance. Only cognitive restructuring and overlearning of skills were perceived by the participants to exert an influence over the intensity of cognitive symptoms experienced. The perceived causal mechanisms responsible for these effects included heightened attentional focus, increased effort and motivation, and perceived control over anxiety-related symptoms. These findings have implications for the practice of sport psychology with athletes debilitated by competitive anxiety in stressful situations.
Hanton and Wadey are with the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), Cardiff, CF23 6XD UK. Mellalieu is with the Sports Science Dept., Swansea University, UK