Activation/arousal control

Authored by: Robert Weinberg

Routledge Handbook of Applied Sport Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  October  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484633
eBook ISBN: 9780203851043
Adobe ISBN: 9781136966675


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I love the pressure. I just look forward to it.

Daly Thompson, Olympic decathlon gold medalist

The thing that always worked best for me whenever I felt I was getting too tense to play good tennis was to simply remind myself that the worst thing – the very worst thing that could happen to me – was that I’d lose a bloody tennis match. That’s all.

Rod Laver, Hall of Fame tennis champion
Most competitive athletes spend a great deal of time physically practising their skills and honing the precise movement patterns necessary to perform at high levels. Sooner or later athletes have to perform their skills in competition where there are usually competitors, spectators, and coaches present. In addition, society places a premium on winning, and there may be high expectations placed on athletes. Expectations usually result in athletes feeling pressure to perform and becoming highly aroused, which often translates into decreases in performance. This scenario, however, does not have to be the case. We all know athletes who seem to thrive under pressure and perform at their best. The two quotes above highlight how athletes may experience and interpret pressure and arousal symptoms differently.

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