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This study investigated whether positive and negative mastery imagery ability mediated the relationship between confidence and stress appraisals and responses. To determine whether these results were specific to mastery imagery ability, this study also investigated whether another type of imagery ability (affect) mediated these relationships.Cross-sectional, multi-phase study.321 athletes (M age = 20.80 years) completed measures of mastery and affect imagery ability, challenge and threat appraisals, confidence, and anxiety intensity and direction. Using structural equation modeling, structural (i.e., mastery) and alternative (i.e., affect) models were tested for indirect effects.In Phase 1, positive and negative mastery imagery ability mediated the relationship between confidence and challenge (B = 0.15, p = 0.025) and threat appraisals (B = −0.26, p = 0.003) respectively. Positive affect imagery ability mediated between confidence and challenge appraisals (B = 0.11, p = 0.001), and negative affect mediated between confidence and challenge (B = 0.03, p = 0.038) and threat appraisals (B = −0.06, p = 0.029). In Phase 2, positive (B = −0.09, p = 0.021) and negative (B = −0.10, p = 0.001) mastery imagery ability mediated between confidence and cognitive anxiety intensity, whereas neither positive nor negative affect imagery ability mediated this relationship.Training athletes how to increase positive mastery imagery ability to combat negative imagery could directly influence stress appraisals and cognitive anxiety intensity, but affect imagery ability may also be important for impacting challenge and threat appraisals.Confidence and challenge is mediated by positive mastery and affect imagery ability.Confidence and threat is mediated by negative mastery and affect imagery ability.Mastery imagery ability mediates between confidence and cognitive anxiety intensity.Developing mastery and affect imagery ability could directly impact stress outcomes.