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Anxiety Management and the Elite Athlete Essay

Exercise/Sport Science


       IntroductionThe ability in managing anxiety and pressure is an integrated section in sport science, most importantly within the elite athletes. Over the ages sport science researchers have been on the move to bring out a clear line between performance and anxiety in the field of athletics. This article is concerned with relevance in the perceptive of cognitive perspective. Researchers in sport science have not been able to give a clear illustration between these terms: anxiety, stress, activation and arousal the terms have over the ages been used interchangeably. This has made the researchers to encounter some challenges in trying to explain the relationship between performance and anxiety. To get a good glimpse on this article is worth to first understand the profound definitions of the commonly used terms. Stress from a psychological point of view can be defined as the state that arises from the demands placed on the athletes requiring them to engage on coping behaviors (Chia & Chiang, 2010).

       Arousal is that state that an individual enters in a stressful state which is characterized by some specific psychological symptoms. From the above definitions we can understand what anxiety is. Anxiety is considered to be more situational, it is associated with the art of deliberate arousal of autonomic nervous system, hence trait anxiety, is regarded as the view of the world that an individual use in dealing with the situation in their present environment. Performance has been realized to be influenced by trait anxiety that is individuals who are deemed to be associated with great trait anxiety tend to attend more to information similar to threats unlike their counterpart with low anxiety trait (Chia & Chiang, 2010).

Effect of Arousal and Anxiety on performance

       Sport scientists have been devoted to explain vividly the effects of arousal and anxiety in the elite athletic performance sport wise. For the case of armature arousal is very competitive especially in the athletes in the individual sports as compared to team sport athletes. Participants in individual the non-contact sports have been identified to report low levels of state anxiety unlike individual participants in the contact sports (Chia & Chiang, 2010).

       Arousal and anxiety are found to highly to affect the individual athlete’s self-confidence levels regardless of their long earned experience and skills. Individual with high self-confidence responds to arousal and anxiety in different ways unlike their counter parts, they always view anxiety as a facilitator in their sporting endeavors. From this point of view, their field participation will actually have to be credible hence they will achieve improved and great performance. The strongest feature that the elite athletes possess is that of high self- confidence levels. Having this quality enhances the athletes to have a most crucial protective factor from the actions of cognitive anxiety (Petrie, 1998).

       The athletes, who have realized their optimal limit of arousal for maximized performance, need to employ appropriate relaxation or energizing measures with the aim of increasing or decreasing arousal levels. The coaches need to insight some psyched motivation to their athletes to perform best. The level of motivation should be dependent on individual levels. High arousal can be detrimental for some athlete some may respond positively as the others respond negatively (Petrie, 1998). In conclusion, when the coaches or the respective captains give encouraging speech to their team mates, it is associated with some elements of arousal. Highly aroused athletes are bound to perform better than it is their usual performance levels hence the respective coaches should do an after event evaluation to see clearly that the athlete did improve in performance genuinely.


Chia, M., & Chiang, J. (2010). Sport, science, and studies in Asia issues, reflections, and emergent solutions. Singapore: World Scientific.

Petrie, T. A. (1998). Anxiety Management and the Elite Athlete. The Psychotherapy Patient, 10(3-4), 161-173.

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