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On Making Warriors Out of Worriers: the Management of Trait Anxiety in Competitive Sports

Larner, Chris (2008) On Making Warriors Out of Worriers: the Management of Trait Anxiety in Competitive Sports. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

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Abstract

There were three broad aims for this thesis. These included (1) an investigation of the relationships between the intensity and directional dimensions of trait anxiety, state anxiety and performance in sport, (2) a detailed exploration of mechanisms mediating observed relationships, using the theory of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) as a framework, and (3), based on the findings of this exploration, an assessment of the efficacy of a tailored REBT treatment as a means of modifying harmful trait anxiety directional interpretations, resulting in changes at the state level and ultimately changes in performance. A total of 189 competitors from the sports of freestyle skiing, athletics, and ten-pin bowling participated in Study 1. Each competitor provided general demographic information, information pertaining to their overall skill level, and also completed the Competitive Trait Anxiety Inventory version 2 – directional (CTAI-2-D), Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS), and Competitive State Anxiety Inventory version 2 – directional (CSAI-2-D) just prior to a competition. Following competition they went on to rate their performance on a scale from very poor to excellent. The results of Study 1 revealed that measures of anxiety correlated as predicted, and provided further support to the utility of directional measures of anxiety as a more precise predictor of skill level and performance than intensity alone measures. In Study 2, six bowlers who obtained negative directional trait anxiety scores on both of the cognitive and somatic subscales of the CTAI-2-D, and six bowlers who obtained positive directional trait anxiety scores on both of the cognitive and somatic subscales of the CTAI-2-D were interviewed on two separate occasions. Interviews were designed to assess the presence and typology of cognitions associated with emotional responses based on the ABC framework adopted in the theory and practice of REBT. Findings from Study 2 provided insight into specific cognitive mechanisms behind directional measures of anxiety, and highlighted the value of REBT as a theoretical model for conceptualising various components of anxiety in sport. In particular, competitors with debilitative interpretive styles were found to endorse self-directed demands, and awfulising, and exhibited secondary emotional disturbance most frequently associated with somatic and behavioural interpretations. In the final study, a total of 60 ten-pin bowlers were allocated to either a six-week course of REBT, a six-week course of a more traditional treatment entailing imagery and relaxation, or a control condition entailing six weeks of befriending. REBT was found to significantly moderate negative directional interpretation scores of anxiety symptoms, and to reduce competitors’ endorsement of irrational beliefs (whilst concurrently increasing their endorsement of rational or non-judgemental thinking styles) to a greater extent than the traditional intervention (relaxation and mental imagery), and control condition. Further, although not statistically significant, competitors who underwent the course of REBT showed greater performance gains than the bowlers in the other two conditions. The main implications of these findings are that anxiety research and management practices should focus on the causal role of underlying beliefs, and the relationship competitors have with these beliefs, in the experience of anxiety. Further, the results of this study highlighted that REBT has a significant role to play in the theory and management of anxiety in sport.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Uncontrolled Keywords: trait anxiety, performance in sport, competitive sports, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)
Subjects: RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Depositing User: Bingyan Gu
Date Deposited: 06 May 2009 16:29
Last Modified: 23 May 2013 16:41
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2048
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