Background and purpose: The functional understanding and examination of competitive anxiety responses as temporal events that unfold as time-to-competition moves closer has emerged as a topical research area within the domains of sport psychology. However, little is known from an inclusive and interaction oriented perspective. Using the multidimensional anxiety theory as a framework, the present study examined the temporal patterning of competitive anxiety, focusing on the dimensions of intensity, direction, and frequency of intrusions in athletes across gender and skill level. Methods: Elite and semi-elite table tennis athletes from the Ghanaian league (N = 90) completed a modified version of Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) with the inclusion of the directional and frequency of intrusion scales at three temporal phases (7 days, 2 days, and 1 h) prior to a competitive fixture. Results: Multivariate Analyses of Variance repeated measures with follow-up analyses revealed significant interactions for between-subjects factors on all anxiety dimensions (intensity, direction, and frequency). Notably, elite (international) female athletes were less cognitively anxious, showed more facilitative interpretation toward somatic anxiety symptoms and experienced less frequency of somatic anxiety symptoms than their male counterparts. However, both elite groups displayed appreciable level of self-confidence. For time-to-event effects, both cognitive and somatic anxiety intensity fluctuated whereas self-confidence showed a steady rise as competition neared. Somatic anxiety debilitative interpretation slightly improved 1 h before competition whereas cognitive anxiety frequencies also increased progressively during the entire preparatory phase. Conclusion: Findings suggest a more dynamic image of elite athletes' pre-competitive anxiety responses than suggested by former studies, potentially influenced by cultural differences. The use of psychological skills interventions that require effective structure, content, and timing in a composite manner is suggested.
Hagan, J. E., Pollmann, D., & Schack, T. (2017). Interaction between gender and skill on competitive state anxiety using the time-to-event paradigm: What roles do intensity, direction, and frequency dimensions play? Frontiers in Psychology, 8(MAY). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00692