Competitive anxiety responses in the week leading up to competition: the role of intensity, direction and frequency dimensions

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Objectives:To investigate the symptom responses associated with competitive anxiety through a fine-grained measurement approach. Incorporating dimensions of intensity, perceptions of direction, and frequency of intrusions, possible time-to-event changes were assessed with respect to the between-subjects variable of skill level.Method:Male athletes (N=82), separated into two skill classifications (club N=45 vs. national N=37), completed the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2) modified to account for the dimensions of intensity, direction and frequency at five precompetition times (1 week, two days, one day, 2 h, 30 min).Results:Multivariate analysis of variance (skill level×time-to-competition) with follow-up analyses indicated main effects for skill level and time-to-competition with no interactions. For skill level differences, national athletes were more facilitative in their interpretation of the symptoms associated with cognitive and somatic anxiety. For change-over-time effects, intensities of cognitive and somatic anxiety increased and self-confidence decreased between 2 h and 30 min precompetition. Frequencies of cognitive anxiety increased from seven to two days, one day to 2 h and 2 h to 30 min precompetition; frequencies of somatic anxiety increased from seven days to two days and 2 h to 30 min pre-event; frequencies of self-confidence increased from seven to two days.Conclusions:Findings support the notion of measuring the separate dimensions of symptoms associated with competitive anxiety and emphasise the importance of assessing these constructs as processes that unfold over-time.

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