Stress and Anxiety as The Distractors of an Athlete’s Attention

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1475 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Jul 30, 2019

Words: 1475|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Jul 30, 2019

There are a variety of things that can distract your attentional focus. These come under two broad headings, internal distractors and external distractors. Internal distractors are split into three sections, thoughts, feelings and psychophysiological sensations. Thoughts are remembering previous mistakes you made in sports events. Feelings are worrying about consequences or previous failings. Psychophysiological sensations are things like fatigue. External distractors include the environment you are in and can depend upon the nature of the sport. Examples of this are gamesmanship, changes in noise level, bad weather conditions and fans creating a hostile environment. However, distractions in one sport may not be a distraction in another. For example in golf, a sneeze will distract the golfer when they were about to putt whereas in a football match, a sneeze wouldn’t distract the footballer. Overall, it is important that atheletes don’t get distracted and need to stay focused on their attentional cues.

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Choking is extreme nervousness that causes athletes to fail to perform or to make mistakes at a crucial time. This depends upon the importance of the event. For example, in a cup final, it is more likely for choking to occur compared to a normal regular game, where there is less chance of choking as there is no pressure to win. Choking can be more apparent in the presence of significant other/large audiences. This can occur as a result in changes in attentional focus. Overall, choking can may a huge part in to why an athlete’s performance may have worsened and should be considered when reviewing an athlete’s performance.

Stress is a non-specific response of the body to any demand made on it. Anxiety is the negative form of stress which can lead to an increase in arousal and a potential decrease in performance levels.

In this paragraph I will be talking about the different types of stress. There are two types of stress, eustress and distress. Eustress is the feeling of fulfilment. Athletes with eustress seek stressful situations to push themselves. This increases the skill level and focuses attention. This increases intrinsic motivational flow. A sporting example of this is in basketball, a free throw in the last though seconds, scoring it will win them the game so they would want this situation so they can push themselves. Another example of this is in football, the players that volunteer to take a penalty have eustress as they need stressful situations in order to push themselves. Distress is an extreme form of anxiety, nervousness, apprehension and worry. This is from perceived inability to meet demands. This leads to excessive increase in arousal and decrease in performance. A sporting example of this is in golf; they could easily be a few shots ahead but they crumble and the pressure and start to miss easy shots. Another example of distress is in cricket, a few bad balls can be bowled but the batsman is in distress so he can’t punish the bowler due to the pressure and stress.

In this paragraph, I will be talking about the different types of anxiety. There are two types of anxiety. Trait anxiety is the likeliness to become worried in a variety of situations, even if it is a non-threatening situation. Athletes with high levels of trait anxiety are usually more stat-anxiety in high pressure, competitive situations. State anxiety temporary, ever changing mood or response to any situation considered threatening. A sporting example of this is a 400m runner as they may have state anxiety at the start of the event which could then drop during the event but then increases again at the final bend. Overall, I think that anxiety and its different types can have a significant impact on performance.

In this paragraph I will be talking about the stress process which is split into 4 stages. The first stage is demand. A sporting example of this can be the last penalty in a penalty shootout. The second stage is perception of demand by the athlete. This is split into two sides, the left side being positive perception when athletes want a challenge and the right side being negative perception which is when they are threatened by the occasion. If the penalty taker takes the left side, this can impact performance in a positive way as they would be willing to take the penalty as they want to challenge themselves. However, if the penalty taker was on the right side then they are more likely to miss the penalty as they are frightened by the occasion. The third stage is an increased arousal level which is split into two sides, the left side being eustress which is when there is an increase in energy and motivation and the right side being distress which is when there is an increased in worry. If the penalty taker takes the left side of stage three then they are more likely to score as they have an increase in motivation and energy meaning they are prepared for the occasion meaning there is an increase in performance as they are more likely to score. However, if the penalty taker takes the right side of stage three then this means that they are worrying about the occasion to much which leads to a decrease in performance as they are more likely to miss the penalty. The fourth stage is the outcome which is split into two sides, the left side being an increase in performance and the right side being a decrease in performance.

In this paragraph, I will be talking about the signs and symptoms of stress. The signs and symptoms can be categorised under biological, cognitive, somatic and behavioural considerations. Biological is when there is an increase in cortisol and adrenaline, which are the hormones involved in the fight or flight response. Cortisol reduces the rate of tissue repair and impacts athletes that may be injured. It is a natural response to stress however it can be very impactful to performance. Cognitive is an increased feeling of worry and inability to concentrate. This can cause a decrease in performance due to the levels of arousal and reduces the athlete’s well-being state. Somatic is an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure and also increases muscles tension. If this is not controlled, then this increase in muscles tensions can increases the risk of injury. It can also be the cause of freezing or choking. Behavioural considerations can include rushing, talking quickly and fidgeting. This reduces the communication between athletes which can also reduce performance. Overall, stress and its signs and symptoms need to be condiered when reviewing an athletes performance.

This paragraph is about the consequences of stress and anxiety. Anxiety suggests that it is a negative mental state characteristic through worry and apprehension. It is believed that if you worry too much then your performance will suffer. Worry about an event can make you believe that you are not good enough which relates to self-confidence. This makes you as the performer feel less likely to win as there are decreased expectations of success. Heightened cognitive anxiety means there is an increase in nervousness, apprehension or worry. One of the things that athletes worry about is failing. The issues are that once you start to worry about something you are focusing on it. This increases the likelihood of it actually happening. Heightened fear or failure could result in negative physiological responses like hyper-elevated muscle tension and lack of movement coordination, which will also negatively affect performance. Overall, I think that the consequences of both stress and anxiety can have a big impact on sports performance and must be considered when reviewing an individual’s performance.

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In this paragraph, I am going to be talking about the Multidimensional Anxiety Theory and the Reversal Theory. The Multidimensional Anxiety Theory was created by Martins et al in 1990. Somatic and cognitive can effect performance in different ways in a build up to an event. Cognitive anxiety is thought to decrease performance, whereas somatic is thought to enhance performance up to a certain point. However there are exceptions. For example, if somatic anxiety is low in the build-up to an event, having slightly elevated levels of cognitive anxiety can enhance performance. The slight increase in worry can arouse and direct athlete’s attentions towards the upcoming performance. The Reversal Theory suggests that rather anxiety levels being bad, it is the perception of anxiety that can have an effect in performance. This explains why some sport psychologists will highlight the role of some of the signs and symptoms of somatic anxiety. Examples of these signs and symptoms include increased heart rate, increased breathing rate and increased temperature in successful sport performances. This can then turn anxiety from unpleasant to pleasant to then enhance performance. Overall, I think that both these theories can have a large effect on performance and needs to be considered when reviewing an individual’s performance.

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Stress And Anxiety As The Distractors Of An Athlete’s Attention. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“Stress And Anxiety As The Distractors Of An Athlete’s Attention.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019,
Stress And Anxiety As The Distractors Of An Athlete’s Attention. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
Stress And Anxiety As The Distractors Of An Athlete’s Attention [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jul 10 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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