Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2006 ) 05 , 415 - 423

Research article
Psychological Skills Usage and the Competitive Anxiety Response as a Function of Skill Level in Rugby Union
Richard Neil1, , Stephen D. Mellalieu1, Sheldon Hanton2
Author Information
1 Department of Sports Science, Swansea University, UK
2 Cardiff School of Sport, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, UK

Richard Neil
‚úČ Department of Sports Science, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, United Kingdom.
Email: r.neil@swan.ac.uk
Publish Date
Received: 09-05-2006
Accepted: 20-07-2006
Published (online): 01-09-2006
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ABSTRACT

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.

Key words: Competition, skill level, psychological skills


           Key Points
  • Nonelite performers primarily use relaxation strategies to reduce anxiety intensity.
  • Elite athletes maintain intensity levels and adopt a combination of psychological skills to interpret symptoms as facilitative.
  • This process occurs through imagery and verbal persuasion efficacy-enhancement techniques.
  • Nonelite performers who are debilitators should implement relaxation-based programs. However, in high activation level sports performers should reduce symptom intensity, restructure cognitions, and then raise activation states again to appropriate levels.
  • Elite performers who are debilitators should implement cognitive restructuring techniques to interpret their anxiety as facilitative via a combination of goal setting, self-talk, and imagery.
 
 
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