Analysis of multidimensional state anxiety in horse trials
The analysis of competitive state anxiety and its effect on sports performance has been undertaken by many researchers (Karteroliotis & Gill, 1987; Martens, Vealey, Burton, 1990; Jones, Swain & Hardy, 1993). This thesis focused on multidimensional competitive state anxiety and performance within the context of British Horse Society (BHS) one day horse trials. Initially, subjects (n=105) completed the Riders' Perceptions Questionnaire which was devised by the author to assess the nature of the interaction between the rider and horse during performance from the rider's perspective. Initial support for the rider and horse interaction was obtained and it was suggested that the rider's perceptions of the horse's performance must be taken into account when examining the anxiety experienced by the rider. Analysis of anxiety incorporated the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory - 2 (CSAT-2; Martens et al., 1990). Relationships between multidimensional anxiety, skill level, actual performance and perceived success were assessed. The results supported the view of multidimensional anxiety with psychological, physiological and behavioural components that change differently throughout the competition (Karteroliotis & Gill, 1987; Jones & Cale, 1989; Martens et al., 1990). Skill level was found to affect the level of anxiety experienced. Novice riders exhibited higher levels of cognitive and somatic anxiety and lower levels of self-confidence than Intermediate or Advanced riders. The effect of skill level in subsequent studies was similar in trend but the results were not significant. Within group variability was high, thus future assessment should assess anxiety levels utilising a more sensitive measure of skill level. Advanced riders were also found to perceive cognitive and somatic anxiety and self-confidence as more facilitative to performance than Intermediate or Novice riders. The assessment of the direction dimension of anxiety was particularly useful for the development of stress management programmes (Maynard, Hemmings & Warwick- Evans, 1995) and hence for the three collective case studies incorporated in the final stage of this thesis. The results provided evidence to support the current multidimensional anxiety theory within the sport of horse trials. Antecedents and causal attributions related to anxiety were measured. Perceived readiness, self-confidence and personal control were key factors affecting the performance and combating the negative effects of anxiety. Perceived readiness predicted performance. Further analysis of antecedents more specific to horse trials may help identify predictors of CSAI-2 components. Perceived success was associated with increases in self-confidence and was a significant predictor of performance in the next phase of the horse trial. Future research is encouraged into anxiety between phases of a competition to assess the effect of perceived success on future anxiety levels and performance more thoroughly. The final aim in this thesis was to assess the effectiveness of stress management intervention programmes via three collective case studies. The application of a stress management intervention programme (SMIP) was undertaken for each case study. Case study one is reported in detail whereas case studies two and three are summarised. Inter-case study comparisons were undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the SMIP. The SMIP's were effective in developing the rider's awareness of their psychological state, increasing self-confidence and enabling riders to employ coping skills successfully during a performance. Performance improvements occurred for each subject which also corresponded with an increased level of perceived success for each subject. The three collective case studies provided initial support for the usage of SMIP's for horse trials riders and hence supported the final aim in this thesis. The research has identified competitive state anxiety within horse trials in accordance with other sports (Martens et al., 1990). It is anticipated that the information will be used to aid riding instructors understand and predict the detrimental effects of anxiety for riders. The successful usage of SMIP techniques will provide valuable assistance for riders, coaches and BHS horse trials team selectors wishing to use stress management techniques for horse trials competition.