by Martha Munroe
Stress was defined as a perceived imbalance of demands and ability to respond, arousal as the physiological and psychological continuum of activity, and anxiety as a negative emotional state of being nervous and worries and includes cognitive, somatic, trait and state components. Things that are important or where the results are uncertain create more state arousal – this makes sense because if you didn’t care about the results you wouldn’t be hyped up about it.
Stress is influences by personality factors including self-esteem, train anxiety, and physique anxiety which you can see in people who seem like they are always stressed out or draw stress to themselves.
Arousal and anxiety influence performance by changes in attention, concentration and muscle tension. I have certainly experienced this and agree that there are optimal levels of arousal and anxiety and levels that are more detrimental to my performance.
I like the idea of Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning, that people are ‘in the zone’ at different levels of arousal. For example some people like trainers that yell at them in an angry way but I hate that and would make me not want to do the task. When you’re hyped up you do well but if you’re too hyped up you can’t focus. This is like the Catastrophe model where performance drops of dramatically after a certain point of arousal.
I’ve also definitely experienced the “Reversal Theory” where you flip-flop emotions in a short period of time and thought “alright, I’ve got this lift! Oh God I’m going to fail it in front of everyone! Just focus, you’ve pulled this weight before! I’m going to choke.” It’s so werid how those thoughts go!
The idea of psyching up vs psyching out makes a lot of sense to me – whether you see anxiety as facilitative or debilitative and in your control or not. It seems that an optimal combination of emotions creates peak performance – the relationship between arousal and performance depends on cognitive state anxiety (worry)
Additional aspects coaches must learn and consider include:
interactional model, create positive environment, productive orientation to mistakes
identify optimal combo of arousal-related emotions for peak performance
recognize how personal and situational factors interact to influence arousal/anxiety/performance
recognize signs of arousal/anxiety in participants
tailor coaching to the individual
– develop confidence in performer to help them cope with increases in stress and anxiety