Anxiety and Sport

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The relationship between anxiety and sports


Anxiety is a reaction that is measured using various scales through the observation of cognitive and physiological symptoms that become evident in reaction to a stimulus. In relation to sports, anxiety is often associated with an upcoming performance. Anxiety could also be enhanced by the intense competition offered by sports. Anxiety in connection with sports is a good topic for research since could affect a person's athletic performance either positively or negatively (Mellalieu, Hanton & O'Brien, 2004).

Many researchers on different levels have studied the relationship between sports activities and various health benefits. In particular, sports activities are known to have positive effect on psychological aspects of a person's life. In some studies, it has been shown that sports activities could actually improve the psychological disposition of persons with severe illnesses, such as people with spinal cord injury. Sports have been found to result in better mental health profile, especially if combined with various external factors, such as age, occupation, and marital status (Gioia, Cerasa, Di Lucente, Brunelli, Castellano & Traballesi, 2006).

The relationship between anxiety and sports is very complex, as it involves the specific and unique anxiety responses of each person and the effect of the differing sport types on the relationship. For example, the anxiety responses elicited by individual sports would differ from those elicited by contact sports. Individual and contact sports likewise cause different experiences of anxiety due to the different task demands of the sports (Mellalieu, Hanton & O'Brien, 2004). This paper shall analyze, mainly through a review of existing literature, the relationship and causal connections between anxiety and sports in general, and individual sports in particular. It is hoped that analysis of existing literature on the matter would yield positive findings and recommendations, particularly in the management of anxiety, betterment of performance, and improvement of psychological balance among people of different age groups.

II. Statement of the Problem

It is widely accepted that participation in sports activities is equivalent to exercise and physical activities. Therefore, it is applicable, appropriate and healthy for the physical body of humans to participate in such activities. The position that an active lifestyle helps in the psychological aspect of a person is also supported by literature on the subject. However, such position is very general. There is a need to narrow down the conclusions regarding the relationship between sports and anxiety. This paper would look into the means by which engagement in sports reduces anxiety in people, as well as the effect of differences in kinds of sports on such beneficial effect on anxiety levels.

III. Annotated Bibliography

Chambers, S. T. (1991). Factors Affecting Elementary School Students' Participation in Sports. The Elementary School Journal 91, 413-419.

This article consists of a review of empirical data from research that shows the factors that affect the interest and participation of elementary school children in sports. This article shows, in a simple manner of explaining, how engagement and participation in sports could beneficially affect people through reduction of anxiety levels. This article cites a study conducted in 1978 by Sapp and Haubenstricker, which concluded that the main reason as to why elementary school children participate in sports, is due mainly to the fun and excitement component. The enjoyment aspect in turn, has positive effects such as increasing motivation in children and reducing their anxiety, stress and attrition. Conversely, lack of fun could be a major cause of anxiety and stress among such young children. Moreover, it was found that children who had the most fun in school sports experienced less anxiety after their games...
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