Many athletes would agree that they have felt butterflies in their stomach or a sudden rush of adrenaline before an important game. This feeling can either translate into legendary performances or monumental failures. According to Sharon D. Hoar (2007), to fully comprehend anxiety’s effect on performance, one must understand the discrimination between two unique sets of sources: trait and state anxiety, and cognitive and somatic anxiety. Anxiety symptoms are numerous and unique to every athlete. Hoar suggests that athletes might report cognitive symptoms (eg. Inability to focus), somatic symptoms (eg. Sweaty palms), or both. The author discusses a variety of sources of anxiety and argues that it can have both positive and negative effects on performance. Anxiety has a significant affect on athletes and garners numerous research studies pertaining to performance.
Anxiety, like motivation, occurs from a combination of personal, situational, mental, and physical factors. First, Hoar (2007) describes trait anxiety as a consistent part of a person’s disposition, whereas state anxiety changes depending on the situation. Second, the author posits that cognitive anxiety can affect mental processes which translate into the reduced ability to concentrate, conversely somatic anxiety affects athletes physiologically, often resulting in symptoms like clammy hands and a racing heartbeat.
Hoar (2007) discusses that athletes often perceive anxiety differently based on situational factors. These factors include: sport type, team role, and importance of event. For example, an athlete might feel more anxiety before an event if their role on the team is substantial (ie. Captain) or if a game is at a pivotal point in the season. Personally, I perceive a higher level of anxiety before a game with a higher level of importance. I felt virtually felt no anxiety before an exhibition game, but my anxiety level would reach staggering levels before playoff games, especially before championship games. Hoar cites Graham Jones (1991) as proposing the direction dimension of perceived anxiety, which relates to the translation of perceived anxiety to either debilitative or facilitative behaviour. Simply, athletes differ in the way they handle anxiety, some athletes perceive anxiety as a sign of readiness, and others perceive it as a reason to believe they are unable to perform at a high level. Jones’ proposal is highlighted in an article by Martinant and Ferrant (2007) which aims to find meaning groups of athletes based on intensity, direction, and frequency of anxiety.
Martinant and Ferrant (2007) aim to comprise clusters of athletes based on their anxiety and to compare them on their levels of perfectionism and self confidence. The authors used the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory - 2 and Sport-multidimensional perfectionism scale to gather results. The results determined five different clusters of athletes based on anxiety criteria. The subgroups not only separated...