Intensity and direction of competitive state anxiety as interpreted by rugby players and rifle shooters

Sheldon Hanton, Graham Jones, Richard Mullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports the findings of part of an ongoing research program examining sports performers' interpretations of competitive anxiety prior to competition. The notion of ‘directional perceptions’ has questioned the limited utility of examining only the intensity of competitive anxiety responses as has Jones. The purpose of this study was to examine intensity and direction, i.e., interpretation of intensity as facilitative or debilitative, of anxiety symptoms as a function of two types of sport. The types of sport were explosive (rugby league) versus fine motor skills (target rifle shooting). The sample comprised 50 male rugby league participants and 50 target rifle shooters who completed a modified version of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory–2 prior to competition. Contingency analysis yielded a significant difference in the number of rugby players who reported somatic anxiety as facilitative and the number of rifle shooters who reported somatic states as debilitative. No such differences were evident for cognitive anxiety. Analysis of variance Indicated no differences between the two groups on the intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety, but the performers competing in rugby league interpreted both states as being more facilitative to performance; the rugby league players also had higher scores on self-confidence than the shooters. These findings provide continuing support for the measurement of directional perceptions of competitive anxiety and highlight the importance of examining individual sports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-521
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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