PRE-COMPETITION ANXIETY IS AN INDIVIDUAL MATTER

Tsuda, S., Nisugi, S., Morii, H., Yasuda, T., & Ito, J. (2008). Anxiety and performance in Japanese athletes: An examination of individual zones of optimal functioning theory. ACSM 55th Annual Meeting Indianapolis, Presentation Number 1423.

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"Haninís (1980) Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) Theory contends that for each individual there exists a specific range, or zone, of state anxiety that is most conducive to superior performance. However, limited researches have been conducted to examine IZOF theory with Japanese athletes".

This study tested the efficacy of Haninís Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning theory to explain the relationship between pre-competition anxiety and performance with 125 Japanese athletes. Four experiments were conducted with athletes in diving, basketball, judo, and wrestling. Ss first completed the Japanese version of State Anxiety Inventory as a baseline measure. Ss then performed retrospective recalls of the best and worst performances of the previous season modeled after a protocol described by Hanin (1978, 1986). Several days before an actual competition, Ss completed the State Anxiety Inventory according to how they predicted feeling before an upcoming competition. Finally, actual pre-competition anxiety was assessed immediately before the competition using the standard instruction set.

In accordance with Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning theory, considerable variation was found in the range of recalled best pre-competition anxiety in all experiments and 58.3 to 78.6% of Ss reported performing best at between low and high levels of pre-competition anxiety. Ss also accurately predicted their own pre-competition anxiety two days and a week before a competition. The optimal pre-competition anxiety did not vary as a function of sporting event including diving, basketball, judo, and wrestling. This study did not support the traditional theories contending that athlete in different sporting event should exhibit discrete levels of optimal pre-competition anxiety.

Implication. Athletes respond differently to competitive anxiety. Thus, any psychological intervention should take place at an individual level. [It also should be recognized that different sports might require different anxiety levels, which would further interact with the individual factor.]

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