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Approaches to Competition: challenge and threat states in athletes

MEIJEN, Carla (2011) Approaches to Competition: challenge and threat states in athletes. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Athletes can approach competition positively, as a challenge, or negatively, as a threat. The theory of challenge and threat states in athletes (TCTSA) outlines that a challenge state, contrary to a threat state, is characterised by high levels of self-efficacy and perceived control, approach goals, positive emotions, a helpful interpretation of emotional state and a cardiovascular reactivity pattern of increased cardiac output and decreased total peripheral resistance. The aim of this thesis was to examine relations between these cognitive, affective, and physiological components of challenge and threat states in a sport setting; research in sport have mostly examined these components separately. Five studies were conducted to examine this aim. These comprised a qualitative analysis of athletes‟ interviews about an upcoming competition, a cross-sectional questionnaire study, two studies where self-report data were associated with cardiovascular responses to an upcoming competition or previous competition, and a case study. Overall, the cognitive and affective components are somewhat supportive of the TCTSA, with a positive relation between self-efficacy, perceived control and approach goals. Threat appraisal and anxiety were positively predicted by avoidance goals. Most of the physiological findings, however, were not in line with the predictions of the TCTSA. Specifically, participants who had high levels of self-efficacy appeared to be physiologically threatened by an upcoming competition. There was no consistent relation between the cognitive, affective, and physiological components regarding previous competitions. Temporal patterning may be one of the main confounding factors for the inconsistent findings as the relations between physiological, cognitive, and affective components all change in the lead up to competition. This thesis makes an original contribution to stress research by exploring the combination of cognitive, affective, and physiological components outlined by the TCTSA using a holistic understanding of how athletes approach competition.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: C600 Sports Science
Faculty: PhD
Depositing User: Louise YARWOOD
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2014 14:50
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2014 14:50
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/1882

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