Anxiety Somatic anxiety refers to one’s perception of

Anxiety is an issue experienced by many athletes in sport
and is often considered the most important psychological factor to influence
sports performance (Hanin, 2000). There is a huge amount of research to help explain
and overcome anxiety for athletes, with various theories and ways of measuring
anxiety. However, there is still no single one fits all intervention process
for sports psychologists. As with many concepts in sports psychology, anxiety
differs in different people. Several theories of sport performance have been
developed to clarify these differences (Fazey & Hardy, 1988; Hanin, 1978;
Kerr, 1989). This essay will focus on a type of anxiety known as competitive state
anxiety and the research surrounding it, as well as intervention processes used
to overcome it.


Anxiety has been defined as ‘an emotional reaction to a
stimulus perceived as dangerous’ (Spielberger, 1972). Generally, psychologists
differentiate anxiety into two types. Cognitive anxiety refers to negative
expectations and cognitive concern about performance. Somatic anxiety refers to
one’s perception of the affective physiological elements of anxiety (Kais &
Raudsepp, 2005). There are various subcomponents and approaches within anxiety
to consider, competitive state anxiety is something most athletes go through. When
stress levels during competition are raised higher than there perceived
ability, anxiety occurs (Kremer and Moran, 2008).

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One of the first pieces of research into competitive state
anxiety was Spielberger’s (1966) state-trait approach along with the
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the measuring tool. The main finding from
this approach was that both high and low levels of state anxiety interfere with
performance, therefore an inverted-U relationship is best to describe the
relationship (Spielberger, 1989). Initial findings suggested that the STAI may
have some uses in sport settings (e.g. Klavora, 1974; Martens & Gill, 1976;
Tenenbaum & Milgram, 1978). But more contemporary research has suggested that
the STAI is not sport specific due to its inability to consider different
situations faced in sport (e.g. Mandler & Sarason, 1952; Mellstrom, Cicala
& Zuckerman, 1976).


To explain the issue of anxiety among athletes, Martens et
al. (1990) proposed a multi-dimensional approach to competitive state anxiety. They
developed a Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) which measures
cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self- confidence (Kais & Raudsepp,