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Austin Swain and Graham Jones

This study examined the relationship between sport achievement orientation and cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence in a sample of male (n=60) track and field athletes. Subjects responded to the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) on five occasions during the precompetition period and also completed the Sport Orientation Questionnaire (SOQ). Stepwise multiple-regression analyses were employed in order to determine whether any of the SOQ subscales emerged as significant predictors of the CSAI-2 subscale scores. The dominant predictor to emerge for each anxiety subcomponent was the competitiveness subscale. The subjects were then dichotomized into high and low groups of competitiveness by means of the median-split technique. Two-way analyses of variance revealed significant group by time-to-competition interactions for both cognitive and somatic anxiety. In the case of cognitive anxiety, the high competitive group exhibited no change across time; the low competitive group showed a progressive increase as the competition neared. Findings for somatic anxiety revealed that the low competitive group reported an earlier elevation in the somatic response. Significant main effects of both time-to-event and group (but no interaction) were found for self-confidence. The findings revealed that the high competitive group, although reporting higher levels of self-confidence throughout the experimental period, reported reduced self-confidence on the day of competition; in the low competitive group, self-confidence remained stable. These results suggest that the precompetition temporal patterning of the multidimensional anxiety subcomponents differ as a function of competitiveness.

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Graham Jones and Austin Swain

The major purpose of this study was to examine the distinction between “intensity” (i.e., level) and “direction” (i.e., interpretation of level as either debilitative or facilitative) of competitive anxiety symptoms as a function of skill level. Elite (n = 68) and nonelite (n = 65) competitive cricketers completed a modified version of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2. The findings showed no difference between the two groups on the intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety symptoms, but elite performers interpreted both anxiety states as being more facilitative to performance than did the nonelite performers. No differences emerged between the groups for self-confidence. Further analyses showed that cricketers in the nonelite group who reported their anxiety as debilitative had higher cognitive anxiety intensity levels than those who reported it as facilitative, but no such differences were evident in the elite group. These findings provide further support for the distinction between intensity and direction of competitive state anxiety symptoms.

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Chris Harwood and Austin Swain

The present study forms the first of two progressive investigations into the development and activation of achievement goals within young sports performers. The focal research question in this paper centers on identifying and understanding some of the underlying factors and processes responsible for the socialization of goal orientations and the activation of goal involvement states in a competition context. In-depth interviews were conducted on seventeen elite junior tennis players who represented a full cross-section of achievement goal profiles. Following inductive content analyses, four general dimensions emerged demonstrating how the development and activation of task and ego goals rested on a complex interaction of cognitive-developmental and social-environmental factors. Specific general dimensions included cognitive developmental skills and experiences, the motivational climate conveyed by significant others, the structural and social nature of the game, and the match context. The rich detail within these dimensions serves not only to extend our knowledge of achievement goals and achievement goal theory, but also to inform practitioners of key components to effective social-cognitive interventions.

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Chris Harwood and Austin Swain

This study acts as a follow-up to a previous investigation into the development and activation of achievement goals within young tennis players (Harwood & Swain, 2001). The project investigated the effects of a season-long player, parent, and coach intervention program on goal involvement responses, self-regulation, competition cognitions, and goal orientations of three junior tennis players. First, each player reported goal involvement, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and perceptions of threat and challenge prior to three ego-involving match situations. Aligned with a matched control participant, each treatment player, with their parents and coach, engaged in educational sessions and cognitive-motivational tasks over a three-month competition and training period. Postintervention, positive directional changes were reported in all players except the control participant. This study reinforces to applied researchers and practitioners the importance and practicability of social-cognitive and task-based interventions designed to facilitate optimal, motivational, and psychological states in high pressure competitive situations.

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Graham Jones, Austin Swain and Andrew Cale

This study examined changes in, and antecedents of, cognitive anxiety» somatic anxiety» and self-confidence in a sample of male (w=28) and female (»=28) university athletes. Subjects responded to the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990) and six antecedent items during the week preceding an important competition. In the case of cognitive anxiety, males showed no change across time; females showed a progressive increase as the competition neared. Males and females showed the same patterning in somatic anxiety with increases occurring only on the day of competition. Self-confidence scores revealed a reduction in self-confidence as the competition neared in both genders, but there was a greater decrease in females than in males. Stepwise multiple regression analyses showed that different antecedents predicted cognitive anxiety and self-confidence in males and females. Specifically, significant predictors in the females were associated with personal goals and standards; significant predictors in the males were associated with interpersonal comparison and winning.

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Chris Harwood, Lew Hardy and Austin Swain

This article presents a critical analysis of the conceptualization and measurement of achievement goals in sport. It highlights conceptual and measurement inconsistencies of Nicholls’s (1984) achievement-goal theory in education with respect to its applicability to sport. It proposes that differentiation between ability and effort does not underpin the activation of task and ego goal perspectives in a sport performance context and that the definitions of task and ego involvement in the classroom might not generalize to sport. It offers an alternative conceptual approach incorporating three goal perspectives, as both a theoretical and a practical solution. It addresses goal involvement in sport performance contexts by emphasizing the value of assessing self-referent and normative conceptions of achievement at different time frames. Overall, this critique attempts to advance our understanding of both achievement goals and individual performers in the competitive sport domain.

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J. Graham Jones, Austin Swain and Andrew Cale

This study examined situational antecedents of multidimensional competitive state anxiety and self-confidence in a sample of 125 elite intercollegiate middle-distance runners. Cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence were measured 1 hour prior to performance via the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory–2. Subjects also completed the 19-item Pre-Race Questionnaire (PRQ) which was designed to examine situational antecedents of the competitive state anxiety components. Factor analysis of the PRQ revealed five factors: perceived readiness, attitude toward previous performance, position goal, coach influence, and external environment. Stepwise multiple regression analyses demonstrated that cognitive anxiety was predicted by the first three of these factors. However, none of the factors were found to significantly predict somatic anxiety. Self-confidence was also predicted by two factors, perceived readiness and external environment. These findings suggest that cognitive anxiety and self-confidence share some common antecedents but that there are also factors unique to each.