An Outline of Performance Anxiety in Female Athletes
University of the Fraser Valley
February 21, 2012
Have you ever felt an overwhelming feeling of fear or nervousness, prior to competing in an important event? Did it affect your ability to perform? If so, you may be familiar with performance anxiety. An athlete suffering from performance anxiety often will perceive competitive situations as threatening, which can result in feelings of apprehension, fearfulness and tension (Patel, Omar, Terry, 2010). Interestingly, studies have found the prevalence of sport-related performance anxiety to be much higher in female athletes than male athletes (Thatcher, Thatcher, Dorling, 2004, Patel et al, 2010). Thatcher (2004) found that while examining temporal patterning of anxiety and hormonal responses prior to competition, females exhibited an “increases in cognitive and somatic anxiety intensity levels.” These symptoms can often result in performance that is well below demonstrated abilities, injury, or avoidance of participation altogether. The goal of this report is to outline symptoms and effects of performance anxiety, discuss factors that influence the phenomenon, and recommend anxiety-management techniques for female athletes.
Physical and Psychological Effects
Athletes suffering from performance anxiety often exhibit cognitive, behavioural, and physiological signs and symptoms (Patel et al, 2010). Some of the main cognitive symptoms include; indecision, poor concentration, feelings of fear, and loss of self-esteem (Cox, 2007, p. 201). Behavioural signs and symptoms often consist of; demonstration of nervous habits, such as biting nails and fidgeting, withdrawal, aggressive or irritable behaviour, and perceived inability to compete. Physiological symptoms include; heightened blood pressure and heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, trembling, blushing and muscle tension (Patel et all,...
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