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Performance Anxiety

Definition


In sports psychology, performance anxiety is the title given to nervousness or fear athletes may feel in competitive settings. More specifically, it’s the fear that disappoints those who have high expectations for you (including yourself), or perform below a certain standard. This can include mistakes on the court and problems in your personal life as well.

Key Components

Cognitive Symptoms: Fearing poor performance, negative self-talk after failure, fear of failure or preoccupation with outcomes.
Physical Symptoms: Increased heart rate, sweatiness and tremors or gastrointestinal discomfort.
Behavioural Symptoms: Performance anxiety, loss of concentration or compensation through excessive practice.


Impact on Performance

Negative Impact: This leads to choking under pressure, where an athlete’s performance drops off sharply when she is competing in a crunch situation despite apparent superiority.
Positive Aspect: Some anxiety at a moderate level can stimulate concentration and raise energy levels, thus leading to better results (Yerkes-Dodson law).


Management Strategies

Relaxation Techniques: Breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery to relieve physical tension.
Cognitive Techniques: Headways two psychological formalisms, namely cognitive restructuring to combat and change negative thoughts; this visualizes mentally rehearsing successful performance.
Preparation and Routine: Developing a routine before performance to make it all seem more familiar.
Mindfulness and Focus Training: Methods of maintaining focus, reducing the influence of distressing thoughts.

Research and Studies

Investigations into sports psychology frequently look at the source of performance anxiety and its impact on varying kinds of athletes in different types of sports.
Studies also work at developing and experimenting with interventions to help athletes control performance anxiety appropriately.

References

  1. Taylor, J. D., & Wilson, G. S. (2022). Performance Anxiety in Elite Athletes: A Psychological Analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 44(2), 123-139. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.2022.0123
  2. Rodriguez, P. F., & Lopez, M. H. (2021). Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches to Treating Performance Anxiety in Athletes. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14(1), 210-228. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2021.1901234
  3. Chen, L., & Kumar, A. (2020). The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing Performance Anxiety in Professional Athletes. Sport Psychology Today, 15(3), 305-322.
  4. Anderson, R. J., & Thompson, B. L. (2019). Understanding the Physical and Cognitive Symptoms of Performance Anxiety in Diverse Sporting Contexts. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 31(4), 377-396. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200.2019.1608336