THOUGHTS, AROUSAL, AND PERFORMANCE HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH ANXIETY
Hardy, L. (1997). The Coleman Roberts Griffith Address: Three myths about applied consultancy work. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 9, 277-294.
The author questions the assertion that cognitive anxiety is always detrimental to performance. This is promoted as one of the myths involved in sport psychology.
The presentation remains within the domain of sport psychology and perpetuates one of the common failings of sport psychology: the field rarely looks outside itself to orient to the general concepts of psychology.
Psychological activation and associated thought content is termed "cognitive anxiety" a most unfortunate selection of terminology. Heightened arousal and specific thought states are associated with improved performances. Other combinations of thought content and physiological arousal are detrimental to performance. However, when the author recommends "encourage performers to get cognitively anxious" the choice of terms would suggest different actions depending upon the understanding/definitions of those terms. Traditionally, "anxiety" is considered to be a state that is detrimental to normal or supranormal functioning. The suggestion is made that "facilitative anxiety" and "debilitative anxiety" are states that could exist. From this reviewer's perspective, "facilitative anxiety" is an oxymoron and "debilitative anxiety" a redundant term.
However, after this confusing dialogue, several applied principles are promoted and are worth noting.
Implication. The practical procedures described are useful guidelines for practicing psychologists and remotely useful for coaches and athletes. It is fine to say what to do but in practice it is knowing how to do things that is important. There are both beneficial and detrimental interactions of physical arousal (here termed somatic anxiety) and thought content (here termed cognitive anxiety). The important thing is to know how to produce the beneficial interaction on demand.
Terminologies, such as those reported in this abstract, that are creeping into sport psychology are generally undesirable and confusing.
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