Anxiety-performance relationships in climbing: a process-oriented approach

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    Objectives: Two experiments were conducted to investigate manifestations of anxiety at the subjective, physiological, and behavioural level of analysis. Design: In Experiment 1 we investigated the manifestations of state anxiety at the first two levels by comparing low- and high-anxiety conditions during climbing. In Experiment 2 we explored behavioural differences under these conditions. Methods: We manipulated anxiety by using a climbing wall with routes defined at different heights (low and high). Participants were 13 and 17 novice climbers in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively (ages 19-30 years). We measured self-reported state anxiety, heart rate (Experiments 1 and 2), blood lactate concentration and muscle fatigue (Experiment 1), and climbing time and fluency of movements (Experiment 2). Results: At the level of subjective experience we found that when novices climbed a route high on a climbing wall they reported significantly more anxiety than when they traversed an identical route low on the climbing wall. At the physiological level, they exhibited significantly higher heart rates, more muscle fatigue, and higher blood lactate concentrations. The results of Experiment 2 showed that state anxiety also affected participants' movement behaviour, which was evidenced by an increased geometric index of entropy and by longer climbing times. Conclusions: Results indicated that anxiety indeed manifested itself at three levels. A possible explanation for the effects of anxiety that is also found in the literature is that a temporary regress may occur to a movement execution that is associated with earlier stages of motor learning. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-304
    JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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