Who Thrives Under Pressure? Predicting the Performance of Elite Academy Cricketers Using the Cardiovascular Indicators of Challenge and Threat States

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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This study assessed whether cardiovascular (CV) reactivity patterns indexing challenge and threat states predicted batting performance in elite male county (N = 12) and national (N = 30) academy cricketers. Participants completed a batting test under pressure, before which CV reactivity was recorded in response to ego-threatening audio instructions. Self-reported self-efficacy, control, achievement goals, and emotions were also assessed. Challenge CV reactivity predicted superior performance in the Batting Test, compared with threat CV reactivity. The relationships between self-report measures and CV reactivity, and self-report measures and performance were inconsistent. A small subsample of participants who exhibited threat CV reactivity, but performed well, reported greater self-efficacy than participants who exhibited threat CV reactivity, but performed poorly. Also a small subsample of participants who exhibited challenge reactivity, but performed poorly, had higher avoidance goals than participants with challenge reactivity who performed well. The mechanisms for the observed relationship between CV reactivity and performance are discussed alongside implications for future research and applied practice.

Martin J. Turner, Marc V. Jones, Matthew J. Slater, and Jamie B. Barker are with the Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent, U.K. David Sheffield is with the Centre for Psychological Research, University of Derby, Derby, U.K. James J. Bell is with the Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, U.K.