Perceived ability and social support as mediators of achievement motivation and performance anxiety

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The present study is founded on achievement goal theory (AGT) and examines the relationship between motivation, social support and performance anxiety with team handball players (n=143) from 10 elite teams. Based on these theories and previous findings, the study has three purposes. First, it was predicted that the female athletes (n=69) would report more performance worries and more social support use than males (n=74). The findings support the hypothesis for anxiety, but not for social support use. However, females report that they felt social support was more available than males. Second, we predicted and found a positive relationship between the interaction of ego orientation and perceptions of a performance climate on performance anxiety, but only for females. As predicted, perceived ability mediated this relationship. Finally, we predicted that perceptions of a performance climate were related to the view that social support was less available especially for the male athletes. Simple correlation supports this prediction, but the regression analyses did not reach significance. Thus, we could not test for mediation of social support between motivational variables and anxiety. The results illustrate that fostering a mastery climate helps elite athletes tackle competitive pressure.

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