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PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS USAGE AND THE COMPETITIVE ANXIETY RESPONSE AS A FUNCTION OF SKILL LEVEL IN RUGBY UNION

Keywords: Competition , skill level , psychological skills

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Abstract:

This study examined the intensity and direction of competitive anxiety symptoms and psychological skill usage in rugby union players of different skill levels. Elite (n=65) and nonelite (n=50) participants completed measures of competitive anxiety, self- confidence, and psychological skills. The elite group reported more facilitative interpretations of competitive anxiety symptoms, higher levels of self-confidence, lower relaxation usage, and greater imagery and self-talk use than their nonelite counterparts. The findings suggest that nonelite performers primarily use relaxation strategies to reduce anxiety intensity. In contrast, elite athletes appear to maintain intensity levels and adopt a combination of skills to interpret symptoms as facilitative to performance. Potential mechanisms for this process include the use of imagery and verbal persuasion efficacy-enhancement techniques to protect against debilitating symptom interpretations

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