The role of attention in the relationship between emotion and performance in sport.
This study explored the immediate effects of emotions on attention, and their consequences for ongoing concentration and sports performance. Sixty-nine female softballers completed the Sport Emotion Questionnaire (SEQ) following a national softball competition. In addition, they reported retrospectively how they perceived their emotions had influenced attention, and concentration and overall performance during the game. Excitement and happiness, the most prominent emotions reported by athletes, were strongly positively correlated with both concentration and performance. Whereas, dejection and anxiety were negatively correlated with concentration, and dejection and anger were negatively correlated with performance. Emotions leading to performance-relevant focus and automatic physical movements had the most benefit for concentration and performance; a pattern more consistent with the experience of the positive emotions excitement and happiness rather than the negative emotions of anxiety, dejection and anger. Although demanding more attention, these positive emotions also influenced attention in ways that enhanced concentration and performance. Emotional intensity enhanced these effects. In conclusion, maintaining or quickly regaining task-relevant focus and performing movements automatically consistently led to optimal concentration and performance in competition; an attentional pattern that was more likely to be produced when experiencing positive rather than negative emotion. The benefits of positive emotions for concentration and performance, the differences in how positive and negative emotions influenced attention, and implications for applied sport psychology will be discussed.
Combined Abstracts of 2009 Australian Psychology Conferences.
Sport and Exercise Psychology