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Stress, anxiety, arousal and sports performance.

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Chloe Edmead

on 5 November 2013

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Transcript of Stress, anxiety, arousal and sports performance.

Stress can be used positively in sports, but at the same time it can result in a bad stress.
Stress, anxiety, arousal and sports performance!
There are two types of stress: Eustress and Distress.
Lazarus and Follerman
`A pattern of negative physiological states and psychological responses occurring in situations where people perceive threats to their well-being, which they may be unable to meet.`
This is the good form of stress that is used to enhance performance.
Some athletes seek out stressful situations as it may help them increase there skill level and focus their attention more on their chosen sport.
For example:
Andy Murray felt the pressure and stress to win Wimbledon 2013, as he will end Britain's 77-year wait for a men`s champion.
He felt the stress because all his fans in Britain were supporting him to win and he also wanted to win himself which gave him even more motivation to win.
He felt the stress to win as he was playing the world number one, which meant his skill level improved rapidly and he kept his focus to win, which resulted in Andy Murray winning his first ever Wimbledon title.
This is our `bad` stress. This is when a situation gets the best of us, and can lead to `choking`. This is normally what we mean when we discuss stress.
Many athletes suffer with this type of stress. It is an extreme form of anxiety, nervousness, apprehension, or worry. When athletes get this type of stress they may struggle to meet their demands in their chosen sport.
For example
David Nalbandian was disqualified because he couldn`t cope with his stress levels.
When Nalbandian was playing in the Aegon Championships 2012 he lost control of his stress and it turned into anger. This resulted in him kicking the box the line judge was sat in and injuring the line judge. This happened because Nalbandian won the first set winning the tie break at 7-3. This would put some stress on the tennis player, unfortunately the stress caused his skill level to decrease. Then in the second set his opponent broke his serve. Nalbandian didn't play his best double faulting at points. When he missed a hard return he lost that game. This stress caused him to get angry uncontrollably.
Occurs in high pressure situations. It is an extreme form of nervousness that negativly affects performance. An example of this could be your first basketball match infront of an audience and you choke under the pressure of everyone watching you.
Causes of stress
There are many different individual causes of stress. A number of athletes may be in the same situation but have different stress responses. Some of the main cause of stress are:
Illness-like infections
Psychological factors (something could be worrying you)
not having enough sleep
Having a type A personality(need everything done perfect or overly self critical)
Environment you find yourself in (could be to noisy)
Negative social interactions
Major life events
Day-to-day hassles e.g. travel
Personal causes of stress are caused by people who are significant in our lives. These people could be friends, family and partners. An example of this could be you and your partner are currently going through a rough patch and arguing a lot which can cause stress levels to increase.
Occupational causes of stress could be a lack of enjoyment in your workplace or even unemployment. In a sporting situation, this could be having an argument with team mates or your coach, being dropped from the team, or even struggling with a technique can cause you to suffer from stress.
Sports environments.
There are two key aspects of sports performance which cause stress:
The importance of the event you are taking part in - The more important the event the more stressful it is. This could mean beating your biggest rival in a tennis tournament to winning a big tournament such as Wimbledon. The importance of the event is specific to you.
The amount of uncertainty that surrounds it - This could be your playing a big football match against a popular team. You and your team are stressed because your unsure you can win, and there is the pressure of the fans who are supporting the better club so you want to prove them wrong.
Symptoms of stress
Nervous System
Sympathetic nervous system
This nervous system is responsible for the fight or flight response. It gives you the energy to confront the threat or run away from it. In order to do this, the sympathetic nervous system produces these symptoms:
Parasympathetic nervous system
Once stress has passed, the parasympathetic system begins to work. Part of the system that helps you to relax. I think in a sporting situation this should be the system you use so stress levels dont get to high. It is achieved by producing the following symptoms:
Blood diverted to working muscles to provide more oxygen
Increased heart rate
Increased breathing rate
Increased heat production
Increased adrenaline production
Increased muscle tension
Hairs stand on end
Slowed digestion
Increased metabolism
Dilated pupils
A dry mouth
Makes muscles relax
Slows metabolism
Increases digestion rate
Decreases body temperature
Decreases heart rate
constricts the pupils
Increases saliva production
decreases breathing rate
How it affects you in a sporting situation.
It makes your muscles relax so in sport you are at ease when playing and can play to your full potential
decreasing your body temperature means when playing a sport you wont over heat
decreases heart rate which in sport means you can be calm and pump oxygen steadily through the body
Increases saliva production which in sport means you wont get a dry mouth.decreases breathing rate which also helps you relax when paying a sport.

if saliva production is increased an athlete may not realize when they need a drink as they are loosing a lot of fluid through sweat which may lead them to being dehydrated.
you could also become to relaxed and not play as well as they could. Especially if there breathing rate and heart rate decreases too much.
How it affects you in sports situations:
The blood being diverted to working muscles to provide more oxygen is good because it means you can work for longer.
An increased heart rate is good because it shows you are working harder.
A dry mouth is good because it makes you realise when your body needs fludids.
An increased heat production could be bad in sports performance as the athlete could become too hot to play their chosen sport and this could result in playing worse.
Muscle tension can be bad because it can also make you play worse. It could also show your opponent that your nervous as you are quite tense when playing.
Hairs standing on end can be bad because it shows a high stress level
An increase in heart rate can be beneficial to an athlete but the athlete can see this as bad, so their performance could actually decrease.
Anxiety is a negative emotional state characterized by nervousness, worry and apprehension, and is associated with activation and arousal of the body. It is the negative affect of stress.
There are two types of anxiety: trait anxiety and state anxiety.
State anxiety is cause in a specific moment in time. It is a temporary ever-changing mood
For example
In a hockey match the athlete could feel high anxiety at the start of the match and then settle down. State anxiety levels may increase when the opponents start to make there way to the goal. The goal keeper will have anxiety to save that goal.
There are two two types of state anxiety: Cognitive state anxiety and Somatic state anxiety.
Cognitive state anxiety
It is the thought component of anxiety. This is mainly referred to the amount you worry.
Somatic State Anxiety
Relates to you perception of the physiological changes that happen in a particular situation. It is the environment that gives you the anxiety
Trait is how anxious you really are.. It is a behavioural tendency to feel threatened even in situations that are not really threatening
Cognitive state anxiety symptoms:
Concentration problems
bad decision making

If an athlete has concentration problems, their performance decreases because of the number of mistakes they have made. For example in a table tennis match if you don't concentrate you start to miss more shots and become inconsistent. As performance levels decrease levels of anxiety and arousal increase. The increased levels of arousal can lead to increased cognitive state anxiety. This means the athlete in the match will mentally start to become less confident with themselves. Then more mistakes are made causing a negative cycle, harming the athletes performance.
Somatic state anxiety have physiological changes!

Increase in heart rate
increased body heat
Muscle tension
The increase of heart rate can be beneficial for the athlete, but the athlete can perceive this as negative and there performance can actually decrease.
Muscle tension is okay to a certain extent. When you get complete muscle tension, it prevents the athlete from moving. This is known as freezing
Effects of anxiety in sports performance
Anxiety can affect sport performance and is seen as a negative mental state and also the negative aspect of stress. Anxiety causes concentration problems and in sports that require high concentration this can be a huge problem. In sports such as golf and tennis concentration is a high factor of the sport and if concentration is reduced in golf you may miss an important hole or in tennis you may start to miss important shots and become less consistent. As performance levels decrease this can lead to a decrease in self confidence which can affect the athlete in future sporting events.

Some symptoms of anxiety can be beneficial to sport such as: increase in heart rate, and higher breathing rate. But if the athlete believes this is happening because of an inability to meet demand it may turn into a negative symptom.
Negative mental state
If your negative mental state becomes too great your performance will suffer.
In a badminton tournament if you are constantly worrying about the event, it can make you think your not good enough to succeed. this is a decrease in self confidence. When you do play in the event your performance will have decreased because you don't believe in yourself.
Heightened cognitive anxiety means there is an increase in nervousness, apprehension or worry. If you worry about failing , the athlete will start to worry about this and focus on it. This causes problems because it increases the likelihood of this happening. The fear of failure can trigger responses like hyper-elevated muscle tension and lack of movement co-ordination.
Arousal is the energized state of readiness of the individual to perform a task, motivating them to direct their behavior in a particular manner.
It is a general mixture of both the physiological and psychological levels of activity that a performer experiences.

The intensity of arousal falls on a continuum ranging from not aroused at all to completely aroused.
heart race increases
breath faster
muscles tense
start sweating
stress levels increase
anxiety levels increase

Drive Theory
This theory states that the more aroused you are the better your performance will be
For Example
If I used this theory, in my chosen sport tennis, If I was just having a hit with someone I wouldn't be aroused.This means I wont play as well in a hit as I`m not aroused.
If I play a competition for a prize I would be more aroused
In a knock out tournament the first round I would be okay, but in the final my arousal would be high
I agree and disagree with his theory because:
I tend to play better when I`m just training and having a hit as there is less pressure to win. In a knock out tournament I would be aroused through out the whole tournament because I would want to make it to the final s every match is important. But I do agree with the fact that in the final of this tournament I will be at my highest arousal as the prize is just in reach so I would want to win that final match the most.
Inverted U Theory
Yerkes and Dodson (1908 state that low arousal and high arousal have a negative effect. This theory suggests that everyone has an optimal level and then it will start to decrease.
For example
a footballer may experience under-arousal when bored or over-arousal, meaning there to excited and lose concentration. But at the optimal arousal they focus on nothing but the sport.
I agree and disagree with this because:
some athletes can be under aroused but still play at a good level. And other athletes perform better when over aroused. Also some athletes may experience optimal arousal for a longer period of time.
I agree with this theory more than the drive theory because there is a point where athletes play worse when over aroused where as the drive theory the more aroused you are the better you perform.
Advanced inverted U
A. Snooker is a sport that uses high levels of concentration so will need low arousal levels
B. Basketball is more of an invasion came as you need to get the ball off your opponent with no contact. This needs moderate levels of arousal
C. Rugby is a contact sport. This means to play this sport you need high levels of arousal to achieve aggression.
Catastrophe Theory
Hardy and Frazey (1987) states that arousal has a positive effect on performance to a certain degree. However if something in the game changes a catastrophe can occur, resulting in low levels of arousal.
If the athlete experiences higher levels of cognitive anxiety and arousal levels increase up to the athletes threshold, the play experiences a dramatic drop in performance. This drop in performance cant then be increased.
An example of this would be in a football match you could get a red card and be sent off. This is a dramatic drop in your performance because it cant be improved again.
The difference between this theory and the inverted U theory is that the drop in performance does not have to be a steady decline when arousal levels become to high. It is only when cognitive anxiety is combined with hyper-elevated levels of arousal that performance levels decrease dramatically.
Individual zones of optimal functioning
Hamming (1990) states that each person has different optimal levels of arousal and can remain in that zone of a arousal for a period of time
Athlete A - I chose Rafael Nadal as athlete A because he copes with state anxiety well as he wins in the final of a tournament most times. this shows he has is best performance at high anxiety.
Athlete B - I chose myself as athlete B because if I`m too aroused in a tennis match I don't play my best and if I`m under aroused I also don't play my best. If training with no pressure but want to play well. That is when I play at my highest performance.
Athlete C - I chose Torez as my athlete C because he performs better when he is not under any pressure. An example of this would be that he scores goals when he knows the match is already won, but in the world cup when it means something he scores nothing.
Improvements and decrements in performance level
Arousal doesn't necessarily have a negative effect on sport performance, it can be positive depending on how the athlete perceives it. If arousal is viewed positive by the athlete it can psych up the performer, but if they see arousal as a negative, it can affect the performance and preparation badly. If an athlete can channel there symptoms of anxiety and arousal through excitement rather than fear performance will be better
Changes in attentional focus
During a heightened state of arousal our focus becomes narrowed during sport. For example if your playing a basketball match, you will focus on who your making and getting the ball to that basket. If you arousal gets to high you may lose concentration and stop focusing on your opponents and just on getting the ball. In this scenario the basketball player maybe focusing on the crowds noise who thinking about something completely different to the sport they are playing.
Increases in anxiety levels
An increase in arousal levels can lead to awareness of anxiety symptoms. This can lead to both somatic anxiety and cognitive anxiety. This can be a positive or negative influence depending on how the athlete reacts.
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