Competition in sports and the general performance of athletes in various competitive activities results in increased stress among the athletes. This increased stress makes the athlete to react mentally and physically in a way that negatively affects the performance capabilities of the athletes. The athletes may tense, increase their heart beats, sweat allover as they agonize about the possible results of their performance. Such athletes find it difficulty to focus on the mission ahead.
This aspect has resulted in many coaches and trainers to take more interest in the subject of sports psychology, specifically in the aspect of competitive anxiety. The attention has centered on factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity and exercise and on skills athletes apply in competitive environment. Ones the factors effecting performance are established, the skills required for succeeded in competitive environment are also taught to the athletes.
This paper seeks to research on Psychological/mental factors that affect performance in sports, physical activity and exercise. To carry out this objective, the paper will proceed by highlight the issue under discussion, reviewing previous literature on the subject in details, and discussing the finding, the lastly make the concluding remakes based on finding of the researcher paper. The issue Sports participation by athletes places a lot of physical as well psychological stress on these athletes.
Rushall and Potgieter (1987) explain that a serious competitive situation is whereby the outcomes of performance of the athletes are most crucial and strongest. Factors which affect the athlete’s view of this situation have been explained by Rushall and Potgieter (1987) as ‘sports stress checklist’. According to Teed, (1987) differences in these factors results in performance inconsistencies, while at the same time they also imply patterns which influence exceptional performance.
In tough and serious performance circumstances, it has been established that performance based strategies of specific elements have significant impact on performance reliability and consistency (Syer, and Connolly, 1984). There is always need for particular preparations to be done in various fields such as performing arts, and business, (Goetz). Though, previous studies have established that there is always need for such psychological preparations to be undertaken in the field of sports, it is still being overlooked in many sporting setting by trainers as well as sports psychologists.
In addition, when plans or strategies are drawn mainly by the athletes themselves, Syer and Connolly (1984) notes that they result in the following advantages, reduced uncertainty and interpretive disruption as well as stress brought by negative circumstances, improved performance consistency of athletes, better coping ability for difficulties, and lastly reduced performance declines. The following section takes a detailed look on psychological factors that effect performance.
Literature review: Factors affecting performance Segmenting sports activity and other physical activities In case the event or activity to be performed is long, it is required that it should be broken down into shorter segments. The segments ought to be short enough so that the athlete is able to concentrate fully on what is required to be done and thought during that period. This helps the athlete to focus on achieving of successful competition aspects. Arranging competition is this way is termed as segmenting. Segmenting has originated from two main sources.
One, the goal-setting past literature has indicated that far-off goals have got less effect on athlete performance compared to proximal goals (Syer and Connolly, 1984). A performance goal which are short-term and which, center on processes required for successful conduct improves performance. Two, people facing extensive assignments normally break the down to better manageable parts Stress Stress is major factor which affects athletes’ performance. Numerous studies have indicated that stress has directly effect athletes, though the extent of the effect is not various and it is hard to measure correctly.
In a study to measure stress carried out by Jones and Hardy (1989), electronic gadgets were attached on athletes so as to directly measure the physiological arousal of the athlete using a process termed as telemetry. The gadget transmitted a radio signal into a receiver whereby physiological responses like the heartbeat can be assessed while the athlete is carrying out his/her normal activities and when he/she is involved in sporting action. The study revealed that athletes experience high degree of arousal when in sporting activities.
However, the shortcoming with this method of measurement is that the results can not ascertain for sure which kind emotion is being felt by the athlete, it came be anxiety caused by stress, or it could be excitement caused by joy of participation in the sporting event. However, in another study by Jones and Hardy (1989) it revealed that sporting activities are not very much stressful for athletes particularly when compared to other physical activities in which the athletes are evaluated according to their performance.
Nonetheless, it remains apparent that sporting situations are able to result in increased degree of stress for many athletes. Instead of the athletes finding competitive sporting activities challenging and enjoyable to take part in, a number of athletes certainly experience anxiety and threats in such a sporting situation. Jones and Hardy (1989) adds that anxiety together with fear resulting from stress are what many individuals would like to avoid, but this is exactly what effects a lot of athletes.
Many athletes drop out off sporting activities because of these two aspects, as they find sporting activities to be threatening instead of being pleasant experience. A high number of individual also revealed that they would prefer to take part in sports and other physical activities by they fear that they will perform badly and if there is selection going on, they would even be selected to join the team.
Thus, stress is a major factor which affects sports and can reduce the enjoyment of taking part in sporting activities Thought contents of athletes Performance efficiency of an athlete is usually reduced due to distraction but it is improved by having relevant concentration. However, there are Holingen and Vikander, 1987) asserts that there are a number of exception to this opinion, for instance cognitive interference. But, Jones and Hardy (1989) say that, to perform well in tasks under stressful situation, the athlete has to focus his/her attention on the processes of completing the task successful in the best position. This specifically is true when it comes to sports. Cognitive concepts like attention focus and flow have a characteristic of a particular task orientation.
However, this orientation differs in relation to the stage as well as the kind of activity being performed. Cappaert and Rushall (1994) explain that the objective of focusing on task-relevant information is to make sure that every resource is made available to the athlete in sporting activities. Athletes should be being able get focused and concentrate on the cues in a sporting activity so that they can effectively deal with the present task. These skills of focusing assist the athletes to maintain their individual mental intensity within a sporting activity.
General techniques of concentrating comprises of avoiding distractions, skills to develop awareness (Syer and Connolly, 1984). Self statement This is your inner voice, what you an athlete says to him/herself. This aspect of self-talk relates to the manner athletes feel and also act. However, Jones and Hardy (1989) explains that changing ones self-statement and making it positive creates a positive mental position, which in term gives the body a positive approach to an a physically activities and makes the athlete to perform better in that activity.
This observation is supported by Syer and Connolly(1984) who asserts that self-statement is as well associated with factors which are related to improved performance, for instance coping (Gibson and Heads, 1989), self-efficacy (Jones and Hardy (1989) and self-concept (Selkirk, 1980) In a study carried out by Cappaert and Rushall (1994) they established a direct impact of negative self-talk on swimmers performance.
In another observation of 20 tennis players participating in a tournament, it was established that negative self-statement was linked to losing, those players who used positive self-statements and believed in its utility worn much more points as oppose to those with a negative self-talk (Holingen and Vikander, 1987). Positive self-statement was a crucial aspect of a game plan for improving results of basketball (Teed, 1987) and as Holingen, and Vikander (1987) explains for learning essential forms in ice-skating. And also for increasing the total number of wins by tennis players