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PSYC 3480 (71)
Chapter 27

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PSYC 3480
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 27 – Pressure and Anxiety  "Pressure is really self-imposed. You put pressure on yourself to do well." - Mike Krzyzewski  Mental pressure comes from within – comes from the individual’s perceptions and interpretations of the situation; can be controlled  Anxiety is the basis of several deadly competitive sins, such as: a focus on outcomes or consequences; attention directed to threatening task-irrelevant information; and fear of losing or fear of success  Pressure is not always detrimental to performance: 'good' stress can be positive and facilitative  If the stressor evoking stress is interpreted as a positive challenge, rather than a threat, tough mindedness and adaptive coping can be evoked and a competitive edge can result Multidimensional Characteristics of Anxiety  Anxiety is multidimensional and has both a state component and a trait component  State or situational anxiety is an immediate emotional state involving characteristics such as worry, unease, fear, and high physiological activation  As situations change apprehension and tension can alter from moment to moment.  State anxiety can be experienced by all athletes but differ between individuals in the kind of symptoms (e.g., cold hands, stomach butterflies, feelings of being excessively pumped, etc.), the level of intensity, the frequency of occurrence, and the duration of the experience  Anxiety is a stable personality trait o High-trait anxious individuals are predisposed to perceive competitive situations as physically threatening and/or psychologically intimidating. Not surprisingly, high trait-anxious athletes in contrast to low-trait anxious athletes are likely to feel severe apprehensions and worry when they evaluate sport situations as threatening  Individuals can experience anxiety as either cognitive and/or somatic (physical) distress  Pressure affects the cognitive processes of attention, perception, and thinking resulting in worry and problems of concentration and focus. The somatic (physical) characteristics of competitive anxiety are shown by feelings of stomach butterflies, racing heartbeat, and cold or clammy hands  Cognitive and somatic anxiety can be experienced at the same time in competitive situations, however, when cognitive and somatic anxiety are both high performance can rapidly deteriorate in catastrophic proportions o Pressure and poor coping skills can lead to a deteriorating cycle of cognitive and somatic disruptions, and behavioral distractions.  Catastrophic collapse can be countered by lowering either cognitive anxiety by controlled, positive self- talk; or lowering somatic anxiety by using proper stress management techniques and/or breathing techniques, or a combination of these methods Individual Differences
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