Working Hypothesis: The psychological aspect in sports is just as prevalent as physical; stress and anxiety can tear down an athlete’s psyche and destroy their performance.
Purposeful Summary 1: Psychological Factors in Sport Performance
The stress that comes along with sports, commonly raises an acute level of anxiety in athletes. However, roughly 35% of athletes believe that this anxiety – typically at high level moments in sport – actually raise their abilities to perform. Numerous factors such as the sport the individual plays, the level of sport they play, or their experience seems to have no valuable effect on the anxiety levels athletes induce. The MHM (Mental Health Model) proposes that an athletes level of performance should rise or fall accordingly with their mental health.
According to the MHM, successful athletes seemed to have similar mental qualities that became a pattern, likewise with the unsuccessful athletes. To conduct this research, a number of athletes were split up into their ability class, such as “pre-elite, elite, or international level.” Then they were split again on their success levels. Next, the mental assessments began. Successful athletes scored a higher average on mental health, mood state, emotional stability, and vigor. While unsuccessful athletes scored higher on tension, depression, anger, and confusion. These successful athletes were also far more likely to be extroverted compared to their counterparts.
Raglin, J.S. Psychological Factors in Sport Performance. Sports Med 31, 875–890 (2001).
Purposeful Summary 2: Fear of Failure and Anxiety in Sport
The factors that directly correlate to anxiety in sport are not short in quantity. Fear of failure, fear of social repercussions, and fear of performance are all very prevalent in the rise of anxiousness and stress during sport activity. Athletes that do suffer from a higher level of anxiety constantly think about these consequences of their performance. However, fear of failure seems to be more prevalent than all the other factors.
Fear of failure is strongly connected to anxiety in athletes. Nearly 83% of athletes who had a fear of failure, had above average levels of anxiety. However, fear of failure (FoF) did not only connect to anxiety, FoF played a significant role in concentration disruption and somatic anxiety subscales. Any athlete who has a severe case of FoF will be second questioning every decision they make in game, resulting in a deeper consequence than just anxiety. High anxiety athletes tend to focus more on the consequences after the game than their counterparts. As well as focusing more about factors relating to their performance and to their social consequences.
Correia, M. E., & Rosado, A. Fear of failure and anxiety in Sport. Análise Psicológica.
High-performance work systems and job control seem to have startling connections. How strong of a grip a person has on their job, directly connects to the level of anxiety they receive. The research for this statement was conducted through a survey of 16 local authorities who, in total, have 128 departments, 1775 employees who took part. The employees in these departments answered a survey of questions. To determine the HPWS, scale based questions were asked, the total at the end would determine the HPWS. Likewise for job control. Then there were some personal questions on anxiety and role overload to determine how anxious these employees are.
The results were not surprising, but were conclusive. Those who did not believe they had a stronghold on their position were more likely to have high level anxiety, more likely to be thinking about getting a new job or looking for one, and were more likely to believe their role was overloaded. In contrast, those who had a sense of security in their job were less likely to have high level anxiety, less likely to be thinking about transferring jobs, and less likely to think their workload was too much.
In connection to sport, those who do not have the confidence in themselves to believe they have secured their position (fear of failure), are more likely to be hit with overwhelming anxiety.
Jaclyn M. Jensen, P. C. P. High-performance work systems and job control: Consequences for anxiety, role overload, and turnover intentions. SAGE Journals.
In short, emotion plays a massive role in performance during sport activity. With the introduction to competition in sport, stress and anxiety are bound to come to the surface. Emotional intelligence (EI) plays a role in ones ability to not only utilize their own emotions to be more efficient athletically, but also communicate with the ones surrounding them by understanding their emotions. Conversely, understanding the other team’s emotions will improve one’s ability to make decisions on the field. Athletes must be able top cope with the stress and anxiety that accompanies sport. EI at a high levels makes it easier for athletes to not only cope properly with the stress, but utilize the stress to perform at a higher level. EI seems to be strongly correlated to self-control, a trait that makes it easier for one to withstand pressure, regulate stress, and control their emotions.
This article is attempting to prove EI’s importance in sport with a controlled experiment. Using an emotional trait questionnaire, a 153 item list that each participant would answer. Each athlete would then be hooked up to a heart rate reader allowing their heart rate variability to be read. To make it a controlled experiment, each athlete was forbidden to take in caffeine or any sort of stimulant, they were then told that the experiment would test their “concentration.” The conductors got their base heart rates prior to the experiment. Each participant was then introduced to some negative imagery that would mimic the effect of trash talking. After this “stressor” they were introduced to a 100 problem list that had a two minute timer to mimic competition.
Results saw high trait EI athletes having less variance in their HR while low trait EI athletes had a higher variance in their HR. The results gave us some insight on how high trait EI athletes look at competitors. Rather than seeing competitors as threats, they view them as a challenge. Leaving the stress lowered and anxiety lowered as well.
Laborde, S., Brüll, A., Weber, J., & Anders, L. S. (2011, March 29). Trait Emotional Intelligence in sports: A protective role against stress through heart rate variability? Personality and Individual Differences.
Purposeful Summary 5: The Relationship Between Anxiety and Performance: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective
Competitive anxiety is higher for individual sport athletes than team athletes. Individual sport athletes do not have the ability to rely on others for assistance in their job, as well as knowing that only one person can be of blame for a bad performance. Through numerous studies, there is proof that cognitive anxiety holds a strong influence on one’s performance. There seems to be a different understanding of anxiety in athletes, some believe it to be debilitative while others see it as facilitative. Those who choose the latter see less anxiety in their sports compared to the other.
Athletes who score higher on self-confidence tests are more likely to see anxiety as facilitative during activity. Individual sport athletes are also seen to have marginally less confidence in themselves than team sport athletes. Although an athletes mental capacities are huge in their athletic performance, there are still other clear factors that will effect their performance. An athlete with terrible confidence and considerable physical talent and ability can certainly outperform an athlete with the opposite.
Humara, Miguel The Relationship Between Anxiety and Performance: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective Athletic Insight.
Purposeful Summary 6: How is stress affecting my health?
To attain a quick definition and explanation on stress from another, more medicinal view. A concise view point and definition on the signs of stress and how they may affect one’s livelihood. Gives a possibility on the reasoning of stress and the potential consequences of what the stress may result in.
Most important reason for this article is the types of stress. This page introduces the 4 main types of stress along with a definition of each. Acute stress being the most common type of stress, the stress we engage with the majority of our days. Chronic stress being a relentless force of stress that seems inescapable. Chronic stress is typically resulted from traumatic experiences. Episodic acute stress is the third type of stress that is reoccurring acute stress that dictates our lives when active. The fourth type of stress is the positive type known as eustress. Eustress is mostly perceived in times that we equate to adrenaline rushes like competition and deadlines.
Purposeful Summary 7: Some quantitative properties of anxiety.
Anxiety has defining properties that separate it from similar diagnoses like stress. One is that anxiety resembles what we believe to be fear. Fear typically results when we are aware we do not know what is going to happen, typically resulting in a loss of courage. The other defining property is that the stimulus that creates this feeling of fear is not accompanied in the current moment, but rather in a sense of anticipation. Anxiety does not result from worries of current events but rather through expectation and anticipation.
This definition of anxiety can certainly be impactful in the athletic conversation. Players who set expectations on themselves and invest in their anticipations will have more potential stress and anxiety than those athletes who prepare without investing in their anticipations.
Estes, W. K., & Skinner, B. F. Some quantitative properties of anxiety. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 29(5), 390–400.
Purposeful Summary 8: Hans Selye (1907-1982): Founder of the stress theory.
The father of stress. The founder of stress theory, Hans Selye. This page goes over the life of Hans and certain activities in his life that took him down the route of stress theory. Before him, stress was only used practically in a physical sense. For example, the term stress would be used when a force is put onto an object. Hans’ work transformed the notion of stress to much more than what it was previously perceived as. Hans was one of the few who never believed what he was doing was “work,” rather he thought of his work as leisure. From the day he was born, Hans was destined for greatness. Supposedly being able to speak 4 languages by the age of 4, he was born to be a pioneer.
Tan, S. Y., & Yip, A. (2018, April). Hans Selye (1907-1982): Founder of the stress theory. Singapore medical journal.
Purposeful Summary 9: Facts & Statistics: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
A few useful statistics are available here. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US, seen in nearly 20% of American adults. Yet, only about 40% of those who suffer from anxiety receive treatment to help themselves. Stress is a reaction to a situation where anxiety is a reaction to stress. 1 in 4 children between the ages of 13-18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. “Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”
Facts & Statistics: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
Purposeful Summary 10: What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a massive factor in one’s abilities to control their emotions and take advantage of them. Those who are aware of their stress can take control of their feelings and use it to their advantage. Emotions precede thought, the faster the awareness of emotions is realized, the better one can control their emotions and create a better environment. When there is not a realization of emotions, emotions can diminish our typical abilities to process information and act on said information.
Emotional intelligence could mean just as much, if not more than, IQ. “In a 2003 Harvard Business Review reported that 80% of competencies that differentiate top performers from others are in the domain of Emotional Intelligence.” Unlike our perceived IQ, emotional intelligence can be strengthened greatly with practice of situations that would pertain to emotional control. Emotional intelligence does not only factor an individual though, one with high emotional intelligence has a better ability to read others and understand what they may be thinking.
Goleman, Daniel What is emotional intelligence? IHHP.
Topics for Smaller Papers: (Kinda confused on this one)
How anxiety can effect someone’s ability to perform.
The correlation between stress and anxiety.
Physical ability versus mental ability in sport.
Current State of Research Paper:
I feel pretty satisfied with the amount of sources I have been able to accumulate. However, using the words stress and anxiety in my hypothesis is bound to lead to some inconsistencies. Stress and anxiety both do not necessarily have strict definitions, especially in how many contexts these two can be perceived in. I have to find a suitable definition for both of these terms and stay consistent to them in my paper.
Update: I’m a little worried on how I’m going to connect all of these topics but the worry is not overwhelming. With a little extra work I’m sure the goal of this paper can be reached. I’m happy with the sources and the available information to me through google scholar. The use of google scholar has been huge during this search for sources, especially Rowan’s access to different platforms and libraries.