CHALLENGING INTERPRETATIONS OF IMPORTANT SITUATIONS ARE PSYCHOLOGICALLY BETTER THAN PRESSURE INTERPRETATIONS
Hale, B. D., & Whitehouse, A. (1998). The effects of imagery-manipulated appraisal on intensity and direction of competitive anxiety. The Sport Psychologist, 12, 40-51.
Experienced soccer players (N = 24) underwent a progressive relaxation session (12 minutes) which was immediately followed by viewing an internally-oriented video tape of a pressure (P) or challenge (C) labeled penalty kick in a "World Cup final." Tape contents were identical except for the appearance of the labels on the screen. The Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 Composite Version scores and heart rates served as dependent variables. Each subject underwent an APACA experimental sequence of baseline (relaxation) and treatment conditions in a single session. Conditions P and C were randomly presented across subjects. Ss viewed the videotape, and then imagined it again accompanied by the audio portion of the original tape.
Heart rate did not differ between either condition. The challenge condition produced less cognitive and somatic anxiety, and more self-confidence than the pressure condition.
The next step in this form of research is to see if there is any actual effect upon performance when an athlete appraises events as challenges.
Implication. When important tasks arise in a competition, it is better for athletes to interpret the situation as a challenge (e.g., an opportunity to perform very well), than to interpret it as being a serious and pressured filled. These appraisal skills need to be taught to athletes.
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