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Challenge and threat in sport

With this model in mind, Jones, Meijen, McCarthy and Sheffield (2009) adapted this model assumes that both appraisals (Challenge/Threat) for athletes will have different implications on a range of motivational, emotional and physiological factors that influence performance. When thinking about competition, either state is influenced by three determinants. Select each one to reveal more information.

Self-efficacy beliefs are judgements of what an individual can accomplish with his/her skills (Bandura, 1986). Sources of self-efficacy include: previous experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, physiological states, imaginal experiences and emotional states. If an individual has high levels of self-efficacy, they are likely to experience a challenge state as they believe they have the resources to meet the demand of the situation.

Control is an important tenet of facilitative or debilitative state anxiety (Jones & Swain 1995), and has been identified as a key factor associated with self-efficacy. Objective control is actual control over the present situation, whilst perceived (or subjective) control refers to the beliefs of an individual about how much control is available. Perceived control is the power predictor of functioning (more so than objective) (Skinner, 1996) and thus influences how an individual allocates mental resources and their outlook towards a competition. Therefore, if an athlete fixates on things outside of their control (i.e. referee's call), then they may exhibit a threat state.

Based on the Achievement Goal Theory, people's achievement behaviours are observable through the goals they adopt (Roberts, Treasure, & Conroy, 2007). There are four distinctive goals, which are: mastery approach, mastery avoidance, performance approach and performance avoidance. Mastery approach goals focus on performance/skill enhancement; mastery avoidance refers to avoid situation where incompetence on self-referenced target (e.g. personal best); performance approach goals focus on competence against others and been seen to be competent; and performance avoidance goals focus on avoiding incompetence from others (Elliot & McGregor, 2001). Research shows that approach goals exhibited more challenge states responses and avoidance goals exhibited more threat states responses.

Based on this, a challenge state can be accompanied by either a positive (e.g. hope) or a negative (e.g. anxiety) and is expected to be helpful to performance, while a threat state is only accompanied by negative emotions and is thought to be only negative to performance. For more information, see the video below where Dr Jamie Barker discusses examples of this research from his paper in 2013 (Turner, Jones, Sheffield, Slater, Barker, & Bell, 2013). In the video below you will see some of the equipment to measure the cardiovascular indicators mentioned on the previous page.

What makes elite athletes thrive or dive under pressure? | The Economist

A cricketer in a helmet holds a bat up while another player hides his mouth under his collar. The Economist. The Psychology of Winning

View What makes elite athletes thrive or dive under pressure? | The Economist video transcript

In what situations do you think you adopt a threat outlook and in what situations do you adopt a challenge outlook? What implications does this have on your performance?