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Title: (Re)conceptualizing competition stress in sport performers
Author: Neil, Richard
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2007
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The major purpose of this thesis was to provide a more contemporary exploration of the competition stress process in sport performers, with particular emphasis on the orientation of emotions with respect to performance. Study 1 of the thesis investigated the stressors encountered within the competition environment. The findings highlighted that athletes experience a broad range of both performance and organisational demands, with some stressors being common and some unique to each participant. To provide a clearer insight into the competition stress process than the previous literature, Study 2 used the stressors identified in Study 1 and examined the subsequent appraisals, emotional response, emotional orientation, and behaviour. The narrative provided by the athletes suggested emotional orientation to be a pivotal factor within the competition stress transaction, with facilitative interpretations coinciding with increased motivation, effort, and focus on the task in hand. In comparison, when emotions where viewed as debilitative towards upcoming performance, athletes reported becoming agitated and/or distracted, which affected performance. The final study in this thesis culminated the exploration into the competition stress experience by examining the effects of a systematic cognitivebehavioural intervention programme on the further appraisals of four golfers who interpreted their emotions as debilitative towards upcoming performance. The findings demonstrated an immediate intervention effect on emotional orientation, with interpretations changing tofacilitative or/and unimportant. An in-depth social validation process conducted during (open ended questionnaires) and postintervention (interviews) provided explanations for these transformations, which included a change of focus from the emotions and negative thoughts towards the task in hand. Improvements or more consistency in levels of subjective and objective performance were also reported, which the golfers suggested were due to the selfstatement technique utilised, allowing them to change their focus to play the best shot they possibly could or/and gave them more confidence to perform during problem holes. The overall findings of the thesis have facilitated a greater understanding of the competition stress process experienced by performers. Practical recommendations are proposed which aim to assist performers' appraisals and coping strategies within the competitive environment. These include methods to manage the demands encountered, along with techniques to help change athletes' interpretations of their emotional states. Future research directions are also provided with respect to: the cyclical nature of the competition stress process; considerations of other dimensions of the emotional response in addition to orientation; and the assessment of a broader range of emotions experienced.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available