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This study examined the effects of a Rational-Emotive education program on the competitive state anxiety levels and performance of female collegiate gymnasts who were identified as anxiety prone. The gymnasts (n=6) were participants on a Division I gymnastic team during the 1988–89 season. The high-anxious gymnasts were distinguished from their teammates via the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1983) and the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (Martens, 1977) and were interviewed by the investigator prior to competition. They ranged from 17 to 22 years of age (M=19.25 yrs). Additionally, this study analyzed the effects of the education program on performance and thought listening (positive vs. negative self-talk). The results revealed that the Rational–Emotive education program significantly decreased levels of cognitive anxiety in five of the six gymnasts. However, the influential effect of the program on somatic anxiety, performance, and thought listening was not significant.
Kevin Elko, a graduate student at West Virginia University at the time of this research, is now with the Staunton Psychiatric Clinic at Sewickley Valley Hospital, Sewickley, PA 15143-1498. Andrew C. Ostrow is with the Dept. of Sport and Exercise Studies at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6116. Request reprints from Dr. Elko.