Social Psychological Aspects of Competition for Male Youth Sport Participants: I. Predictors of Competitive Stress

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of California, Los Angeles
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This field study investigated the influence and stability of individual difference and situational factors on the competitive stress experienced by 9- to 14-year-old wrestlers. Stress was assessed by the children's form of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory and was measured immediately before and after each of two consecutive tournament matches. Wrestlers' dispositions, characteristic precompetition cognitions, perceptions of significant adult influences, psychological states, self-perceptions, and competitive outcomes were examined as predictors of pre- and postmatch anxiety in separate multiple regression analyses for each tournament round. The most influential and stable predictors of prematch stress for both matches were competitive trait anxiety and personal performance expectancies, while win-loss and fun experienced during the match predicted postmatch stress for both rounds. In addition, prematch worries about failure and perceived parental pressure to participate were predictive of round 1 prematch stress. Round 1 postmatch stress levels predicted stress after round 2, suggesting some consistency in children's stress responses. In total, 61 and 35% of prematch and 41 and 32% of postmatch state anxiety variance was explained for rounds 1 and 2, respectively.

This research was supported by Academic Senate Grant 3188 from UCLA to the first author. The authors are grateful for the cooperation of the California Age Group Wrestling Association, its coaches, and its participants. Special thanks go to Larry Drinnion, Randy Lewis, and Robert Stolo.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Tara Scanlan, Department of Kinesiology, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024.

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