Who Are You Talking To? : Comparing Precompetitive Anxiety and Self-talk in Tennis
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
Home |
The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
SPALDING, W. K. (2005). Who Are You Talking To? : Comparing Precompetitive Anxiety and Self-talk in Tennis . National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 8. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved May 26, 2017 .

Who Are You Talking To? : Comparing Precompetitive Anxiety and Self-talk in Tennis
WILLIAM K. SPALDING
MISSOURI WESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
There is considerable evidence in support of the relationship between specific cognitive-behavioral strategies and positive outcomes of athletes. This study was set up to determine the extent to which cognitive-behavioral strategies are related to levels of anxiety experienced by tennis players prior to competitive play. Self-talk has been under scrutiny because of its positive and negative capabilities, causing the player to benefit from it or be hindered by it. The purpose of this study is to correlate a relationship between cognitive-behavioral strategies, self-talk, the levels of precompetitive anxiety, and their effect on the outcome (win/loss percentage) of a tennis match. A significance was found for the players that won their match, chi-square (1) =. 014, p<. 05. No significance was found for the players that lost their match, chi-square (1) =. 180, p>.05.

INTRODUCTION
Considerable evidence has been supported in regard to the relationship between specific cognitive-behavioral strategies and positive outcomes of athletes. However, less information has been collected considering the occurrence of mental strategies among sport participants as well as the effect of the strategies on emotional responses, i.e. competitive state anxiety (Ryska, 1998). It is of interest to determine the extent to which cognitive-behavioral strategies, self-talk, is related to levels of cognitive state anxiety, somatic state anxiety, and self-confidence experienced by tennis players prior to competitive play. Tennis players are especially practical to studying the patterns of mental strategy use and precompetitive anxiety. The finely tuned calculative aspect of individual sports such as tennis tends to elicit a greater degree of competitive anxiety than team sports do (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990). The fragment nature of play during a competition facilitates data collection regarding strategy use not only prior to the match, but during the match as well. The cognitive-behavioral strategy, self-talk, is under some scrutiny do to the fact that it can be seen as positive or negative causing the player to either benefit from it or be hindered by it.The prevalence of this behavior is dependant on Martens, et al. (1990) Multidimensional Theory of Anxiety. Burtonís (1988) swimmer testing has provided support for all the anxiety-performance relationships proposed by Martens, et al. (1990). In this theory, Martens suggests that cognitive and somatic subcomponents of anxiety influence performance. However, the multidimensional notion of anxiety separates the contents of competitive anxiety into two categories, cognitive state anxiety and somatic state anxiety. The cognitive is the mental component. Cognitive anxiety is characterized by negative self-talk, worries about performance, and images of failure. These feelings are proposed to be debilitative of performance. The somatic is the physiological element. Somatic anxiety is related to autonomic arousals, such as feelings of muscular tension, rapid heart rate, sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach.The different antecedents create dissimilar patterns of change as competition approaches (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990). Martensí theory indicates that the subcomponents affect performance in different ways and at different times. The somatic anxiety is greatest at the nearing moments of the match. Once the match begins, it slowly fades away as the player loosens up. The cognitive arises whenever expectations become negative. This accounts for the reasons why athletes begin to worry prior to or during a tennis match. These moments are the points in which the player has the greatest influence to practice cognitive-behavioral strategies.The purpose of this study is to correlate a relationship between cognitive-behavioral strategies, specifically self-talk, the levels of precompetitive anxiety, and their effect on the outcome (win/loss percentage) of a tennis match. Measuring the effects of precompetitive anxiety on the player performance provides a significant indicator of the affect of the cognitive-behavioral strategy, (Terry, Cox, & Lane, 1996) self-talk.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
Data were collected from 58 league tennis players from the Saint Joseph Tennis & Swim Club in Saint Joseph, Missouri. The participantsí ages range from 18 to 72, with an average of approximately 45. Forty-one of the participants were male, and 17 were female.

MATERIALS
To measure the precompetitive anxiety and self-confidence levels, I used the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT), see Figure 1. I used the Tennis Clubís facilities for the participantsí matches to be played on.

PROCEDURE
The participants were asked to complete the SCAT 10 minutes prior to their match. After the tennis matches finished, the players were asked to report their scores and whether or not they used self-talk during the match. Whether or not the participants talked to themselves will be my independent variable. The outcome of the match, win or lose, will be my dependent variable. The ages and sex of the players were also recorded.


RESULTS
A Chi-Square Test of Independence was used to measure and compare the percentage of winners and losers that used self-talk with high/low anxiety and those that didnít use self-talk with high/low anxiety. A significant correlation was found in the players who won their match (chi-square (1) = .014, p<. 05). For the players that lost their match, no significant correlation was found in the comparison (chi-square (1) = .180, p>.05).


DISCUSSION
In my attempt to find a relationship between the cognitive-behavioral strategy, self-talk, the levels of precompetitive anxiety, and their affect on the result of a tennis match, I found that of the participants that won, self-talk and anxiety levels were significantly correlated. The players with high anxiety who didnít use self-talk during their match found the cognitive-behavioral strategy to be detrimental to their game by not using it, and wound up with a win. This significance, in compliment, also means that the players with low anxiety found the behavioral tool useful, guiding them towards a victory. In the same way, players who used self-talk with high anxiety were less likely to win their match. Accordingly, those who didnít use self-talk and had low anxiety were also less likely to win. The results are in accordance with the research by Terry, Cox, & Lane (1996), that the affective ness of the cognitive-behavioral strategy, self-talk, can be measured by the level of precompetitive anxiety. The scrutiny that self-talk has undergone is concurrent with my results as well (Martens, et al. 1990). The fact that it can be seen as a positive tool or a negative influence was shown as expected in my study. The high anxiety players had a better chance of winning if they didnít use self-talk. This would imply that the cognitive-behavioral strategy has the capabilities to lead to self-destructive behaviors during a tennis match. Conversely, the low anxiety players had a higher probability of winning if they utilized self-talk. This suggests that the tool has the potential to be a helpful component for a player to use throughout the match and prevent self-destructive behaviors. The most obvious limitation to my study is that it is only significant to those players who ended up winning their match. This represents only half of my total results as being significant. One reason that this could have contributed to the non-significance of half of my results is the inconsistency of the number of players that fell into each category. This may have skewed the power of the percentages of each group. Another limitation may have been the caliber and conditions of players used in the study. The players were playing in league matches, in which competition does exist, but enjoyment is a dominating factor. Future researchers may want to look into gathering information from USTA (United States Tennis Association) certified players. This would provide a more accurate indication of the strengths of anxiety and self-talk influences on tennis match outcomes.


REFERENCES
Burton, D. (1988). Do anxious swimmers swim slower? Reexamining the elusive anxiety-performance relationship. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 10, 45-61.Martens, R., & Vealey, R.S., & Burton, D. (1990). Competitive anxiety in sport. Champaign, IL; Human Kinetics.Ryska, Todd A. (1998). Cognitive-behavioral strategies and precompetitive anxiety among recreational athletes. Psychological Record, 48, 697-708.Terry, Peter C., & Cox, Jennifer A., & Lane, Andrew M. (1996). Measures of anxiety among tennis players in singles and doubles matches. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 83, 595-603.


FIGURES

Submitted 12/8/2005 12:44:14 PM
Last Edited 12/8/2005 1:02:36 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

Rated by 0 users. Users who logon can rate manuscripts and write reviews.

© 2017 National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse. All rights reserved. The National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse is not responsible for the content posted on this site. If you discover material that violates copyright law, please notify the administrator. This site receives money through the Google AdSense program when users are directed to useful commercial sites. We do not encourage or condone clicking on the displayed ads unless you have a legitimate interest in the advertisement.