|This study examined the intensity and direction of competitive
anxiety symptoms and psychological skill usage in rugby union players
of different skill levels. Elite (n=65) and nonelite (n=50) participants
completed measures of competitive anxiety, self- confidence, and psychological
skills. The elite group reported more facilitative interpretations
of competitive anxiety symptoms, higher levels of self-confidence,
lower relaxation usage, and greater imagery and self-talk use than
their nonelite counterparts. The findings suggest that nonelite performers
primarily use relaxation strategies to reduce anxiety intensity. In
contrast, elite athletes appear to maintain intensity levels and adopt
a combination of skills to interpret symptoms as facilitative to performance.
Potential mechanisms for this process include the use of imagery and
verbal persuasion efficacy-enhancement techniques to protect against
debilitating symptom interpretations.
WORDS: Competition, skill level, psychological skills.