The relationship between anxiety and performance is imperative as when feelings of anxiety are experienced in a sporting situation, the subsequent effects can be huge. Attempts to understand the effects of anxiety upon performance in sport have been ongoing for many years, and several theories and explanations have been developed to try and improve our understanding of the relationship between stress, anxiety and performance in sport. Eysenck has developed several theories regarding anxiety, and his contribution will be discussed and evaluated.
In order to understand anxiety within the context of sport and the implications it may have, an understanding of the earlier theories of anxiety is essential. In his studies, H.J. Eysenck (1967, in Eysenck 1992) approached anxiety from a physiological perspective. He claimed that genetic factors account for 50-60 percent of individual differences in the personality element of trait anxiety. However, there were many problems with the physiological approach and although genetic factors can influence trait anxiety to an extent, (Eysenck (2000) claimed that genetic factors can only account for approximately 35 per cent of individual differences in trait anxiety) it does not account for environmental influences and individual differences in cognitive functioning.
As trait anxiety has been found to have a genetic element, albeit not a great one; it is therefore useful for sports performers that have a predisposition of trait anxiety to implement stress management strategies before performances, in order to control their state anxiety levels.
Owing to problems with the physiological approach to anxiety, M. Eysenck began to focus on a cognitive approach to anxiety. The cognitive approach to anxiety considered how individual's process threatening information. The cognitive theory of anxiety proposed by Eysenck (1992) demonstrated how individual differences in trait anxiety depend partly on cognitive biases and this notion is supported by...