Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Competitive State Anxiety and Gender Differences among Youth Greek Badminton Players

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Competitive State Anxiety and Gender Differences among Youth Greek Badminton Players

Article excerpt

Introduction

The topic of sport performance and different elements that might interact with, it has been a topic of great interest among coaches, athletes and researchers. One of these elements is performance anxiety. In many cases athletes indicate that anxiety or certain aspects of anxiety can interact with performance (Jones & Swain, 1995). Researchers clarify and "divide" anxiety into trait and state. According to Spielberger (1972), state anxiety: "may be conceptualized as a transitory emotional state or condition of the human organism that varies in intensity and fluctuates over time. This condition is characterized by subjective, consciously perceived feelings of tension and apprehension, and activation of the autonomic nervous system" (p. 39). In other words, state anxiety is an immediate or "right now" emotional response that can change form one moment or situation to the next. State anxiety can be measured behaviorally, physiologically and psychologically (Silva & Weinberg, 1984).

One the other hand, Spielberger (1972) mentions that trait anxiety:

"refers to relatively stable individual differences in anxiety proneness, that is, to differences in the disposition to perceive a wide range of stimulus situations as dangerous or threatening, and in the tendency to respond to such treats with state anxiety reactions (p. 39)." People with increased levels of state anxiety have greater chances to demonstrate trait anxiety reactions, than people with low state anxiety.

After many years of research, psychologists pointed out that anxiety is a multifaceted construct. Anxiety is an emotional response and an avoidance motive which is characterized by worry and a concern of physical or psychological harm, together with increased physiological arousal resulting from the appraisal of threat (Smith, Smoll & Weichman, 1998). Morris, Davis and Hutchings (1981) specified that cognitive anxiety is characterized by awareness of unpleasant feelings relatively to ones' self or to an external stimulant, to discomposure and to disturbing mental images. On the other hand, somatic anxiety refers to the apprehension of an individual of a physiological arousal which has negative characteristics, such as increased pulse, queasy feeling in the stomach, sweating palms, etc. Cognitive and somatic anxiety might be closely related, but they can alter independently for one another.

It is generally accepted that the psychological state of the athletes prior to competition is crucial for their performance. Because of this aspect, many researches examined athletes' anxiety level on different times prior to competition. The results indicated that cognitive anxiety is high few days before the competition and remains high up to the beginning point. Reversely, somatic anxiety is starting to rise the day of competition and reaches its climax just before the beginning point (Cox, 1994). Anxiety affects many outcomes. Children reported that they dropped out of sports because they found that athletic competition is aversive and threatening rather than enjoyable and challenging (Orlick & Botterill, 1975; Gould, Feltz, Horn & Weiss, 1982; Bebetsos & Antoniou, 2003). The understanding of the decisive aspects of state anxiety can provide with useful information for reduction of anxiety and increase of performance. One potential predictor of an athlete's pregame state anxiety is his/her tendency to be anxious in competitive situations (Cooley, 1987). Martens (1977) mentioned that a competitor's anxiety at the time of performance may be a powerful decisive aspect of his/her performance. According to the researcher, competitive trait anxiety "is a construct that describes individual differences in the tendency to these situations with a state anxiety' reactions of varying intensity" (p. 36). In order to access competitive trait anxiety, an instrument was developed, the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT) (Martens, 1977). …

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