Sport can be characterized as an environment where physical activities can be developed. Participation in athletic activities is accompanied with an increasing anxiety. This leads to young or beginner players not performing according to their potentialities (Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996; Orlick & Partington, 1988). The anxiety refers to situations of emotional arousal and intensity.
The personal perception of anxiety is usually assessed by self-report questionnaires. One specialized sport related questionnaire is that of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2). The CSAI-2 is used to assess somatic, cognitive anxiety, and self-confidence (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990). Cognitive anxiety is defined as the concern, the perception of unpleasant feelings related to the athletic performance and the inability to concentrate (Borkovec, 1976). The term somatic anxiety refers to physiological and emotional factors resulting from the activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the experiencing of unpleasant emotions, manifested by increased heart rate, extra muscle tension, tightness in the stomach, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing , etc. (Morris et al., 1981; Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990). Self-confidence is a realistic expectation of athletes that can succeed, it is the belief in themselves and in their strengths (Martens, 1987).
By using the CSAI-2, Burton (1988) proved that cognitive anxiety has a negative linear relationship with performance. Klein (1990) by using the technique of meta-analysis concluded that the negative relationship of anxiety and performance is: a) stronger in female athletes than in male athletes, b) stronger in young athletes than in older athletes, c) stronger in low- level athletes and d) stronger in team than in individual sports. On the other hand self-confidence shows a positive linear relationship, while the relationship between somatic anxiety and performance has the shape of an inverted U. However, the above findings of Burton (1988), were not fully confirmed by further
CES and Athletics
CES has been used by athletes, both professional and amateur to help then attain a balanced emotional state so as to maximize their performance. It was employed successfully towards that end by Russian athletes in the Olympics during the 1990s and most recently by professional athletes in the NFL. An ideal state is when one's various neurotransmitters are in proper balance with one another; i.e. operating at peak efficiency. By normalizing the electrical activity of the brain, CES normalizes the various brain chemicals, helping them to return to pr-stress homeostasis. This balanced state of mind and body is what maximizes performance.
Sample Protocol for Pre-Competitive Anxiety
- Use the unit at least twice a day, every day for at least 20 minutes. It can be used more frequently if you like. There is no problem of addiction or any negative side-effects. Its goal is to help you achieve balance. You cannot be "overbalanced."
- The unit should be used each and every time the individual readies to engage in competition-ideally just prior to it.
- The user can employ either the pre-gelled electrodes or the ear clips. They are equally effective. It is simply a matter of individual taste.
- Ideally the user should not be distracted or engaged in activity while using the unit. A useful adjunct is proper music. Ideally it should be calming and not jarring. Appropriate works would be those drawn from the Classical; ideally the baroque.
- A complementary exercise would be an accompanying meditation, something as simple as counting ones breaths in and out from 1-10 and then backwards.
User should give themselves and the modality a proper time to prove its value. Results may be seen immediately, but are also cumulative and may be seen only over time.