HIGH SELF-CONFIDENCE CONTROLS PRECOMPETITION ANXIETY

Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2002). Perceived control of anxiety and its relationship to self-confidence and performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 73, 87-97.

Elite (N = 6) and sub-elite (N = 6) swimmers described their associations between anxiety symptoms, self-confidence, and performance.

Perceived control was the moderating factor in the directional interpretation of anxiety -- not the experience of anxiety symptoms alone. When symptoms were considered under control, symptoms were perceived to have a facilitative effect on performance, whereas those not under control were considered to be detrimental. Increases or decreases in self-confidence were perceived to improve or lower performance respectively.

"It is important for athletes to learn to control pre-race states through techniques such as cognitive restructuring, relaxation, and imagery as controlled activation or 'psych-up' strategies" (p 96).

Implication. Developing high levels of self-confidence and certainty will block the occurrence of debilitating anxiety. Procedures for doing that in swimming are described in the following book:

Rushall, B. S. (1995). Personal best: a swimmer's handbook for racing excellence. Spring Valley, CA: Sports Science Associates. [http://members.cox.net/brushall/#books]

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