For this section you need to be able to define 5 words.
Motivation – A psychological drive to achieve a need or goal. Divided into 2
dimensions; Intensity of Behaviour and Direction of Behaviour.
Arousal – This is the intensity of behaviour. Ranges on a continuum from deep
sleep to highly agitated behaviour (hyper vigilance). Arousal has 2 forms,
physiological (somatic arousal) and psychological (cognitive arousal).
Anxiety – This is an emotional state closely linked to cognitive arousal and is
characterised by feelings of worry, apprehension and psychological tension.
Stress – This is an environmental stimuli like conflict, competition or stress that
Activation - Describes a state of physiological preparedness, which is directly
associated with the degree of arousal – for example fight or flight.
Arousal can be triggered by certain stimuli from the environment. These
are called stressors. Some sporting examples of stressors are:
• Noticing that a scout is watching your performance.
• Performing a move that caused injury last time.
• Competing in a match with a famous personality.
• A referee who makes a bad decision against you.
• A player on the opposition who is trying to wind you up.
4 Factors effect where a performers’ ‘optimal point’ is.
Personality – Extroverts perform best when arousal level is high and vice versa
for Introverts. This is related to the reticular activation system (RAS).
Task type – Simple tasks such as shot putting tend to be gross, habitual and
have a wide margin for error. These skills are best performed in conditions of
Stage of learning – The athlete at the expert of autonomous stage of learning
would find that high arousal would enhance performance.
Experience – The highly experienced veteran player would find that
performance improves when arousal is high.
Complex fine, IP
Stage of Learning
Associative Stage of learning Autonomous Stage of Learning
Hanin’s INDIVIDUAL ZONE OF OPTIMAL FUNCTIONING (IZOF)
Hanin found that top athletes have an individual zone of optimal arousal in which
best performance occurs. Outside of this zone, poor performance occurs.
Athlete A In Zone
Out of Zone
(Low ZOF) (best performance)
Athlete B In Zone
Out of Zone Out of Zone Out of Zone
(Moderate ZOF) (best performance)
Athlete C In Zone
Out of Zone
This theory differs from the inverted U because:
a) The optimal level of arousal does not always coincide with the mid point of the
arousal continuum but varies in accordance with the individual and the situation.
b) The optimal level of arousal is not a single point but a ‘band width’.
Characteristics of being ‘In the Zone’:
• Performance appears effortless and automatic with the athlete feeling
in full control.
• The attention and concentration of the performer is focused.
• The execution of the skill brings enjoyment and satisfaction.
Jonny Wilkinson ‘in the zone’
Spielberger identified 2 sources of anxiety. Some people appear to be anxious at
all times in everything they undertake. This is recognised as ‘trait’ anxiety and is
The second source is ‘state’ anxiety, which fluctuates in response to a given
situation and is associated with arousal.
Trait Anxiety is measured using the Sports
Competitive Anxiety Test (SCAT)
Have a go at the test here:
State anxiety is measured using the Competitive
State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2).
‘Anxietyoccurs when there is a substantial imbalance
between the individual’s perception of their ability and
their perception of the demands and importance of the
Perception of situational demands
Perception of ability to cope
I must win my leg of the relay if
my team is to have a chance to Anxiety I am not as good as my
Perception of the importance
of the Situation
The result of the competition
hinges on this one relay race.
There are 2 types of response that are triggered by anxiety.
Somatic response. This follows the pattern of the inverted U and refers to
• muscular tension
• increased heart and respiration rates
Cognitive response. This reflects increasing worry about performance. If this
remains unchecked the athlete will develop
• negative thoughts / worry
If either of these responses gets out of control
then the performer cannot achieve a ‘peak flow’
Anxiety management to improve performance
• Imagery – Using imagery to place yourself in a calm peaceful place can
help to reduce both cognitive and somatic responses.
Mental rehearsal can also be used to imagine a previous good
performance which can improve confidence and reduce anxiety.
• Thought stopping - This involves substituting negative thoughts with
• Positive talk – This involves the athletes telling themselves that they can
do something successfully. Popular phrases include “I can do this” or “I am
better than my opponent”. This is particularly used by top cricket batsmen
and tennis players.
• Rational thinking – This involves focusing inwardly into the internal /
narrow style of attention and evaluating the situation and its possible
• Progressive muscular relaxation - After tensing a muscle it goes into a
deep state of relaxation. This technique involves working from head to toe
tensing each muscle group in turn. The major drawback of this technique is
that it is very time consuming.
• Biofeedback – By receiving physiological feedback about your body it is
possible to control certain aspects of anxiety. Example include:
• Electrocardiograph (EC)
• Galvanic skin response
= Peak Flow Peak Flow Experience
High Somatic Arousal
Excitement, Anxiety, anger
Relaxation, drowsiness Boredom, fatigue
Low Somatic Arousal
Peak flow is described as an optimal experience that facilitates best performance
and is intrinsically rewarding.
• Peak flow occurs when somatic arousal has reached an appropriate threshold
and cognitive arousal is low.
• Flow state is attained when the performer has a balanced perception of the
demands of the situation and his / her ability to cope.
• There is a self confident belief that nothing can go wrong.
‘During these rare moments in sport, the athlete
assumes control over all internal and environmental
variables and a time of great happiness and self
fulfilment is experienced’.
Brain Lara – 400 Not Out