Challenge cognitive appraisals are associated with superior performance compared with threat (Jones, Meijen, McCarthy, & Sheffield, 2009). However, research has not examined longitudinal temporal patterns of challenge and threat appraisals. In this study, 14 (five female) elite rowers (Mage = 25.79 years, SD = 2.67) provided self-reported appraisals data at four time points (baseline; before national trials; before the second world rowing cup regatta; and before the world rowing championships). The rowers’ predisposed appraisal style predicted subsequent appraisals. Challenge and self-efficacy increased while loss and avoidance appraisals decreased over time. The rowers were highly predisposed to challenge, becoming more challenged through events of increasing magnitude. This suggests that athletes’ predisposed appraisal style can predict their approach to competition. Future studies could identify protocols for encouraging challenge states in athletes, observe the physiological indicators of challenge and threat longitudinally, and consider the interaction between challenge and threat appraisals.
The authors are with the Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK.