Date of Conferral







William Disch


Precompetitive anxiety (PCA) is problematic for young gymnasts and may have an influence on a multitude of factors like self-confidence, perceived level of self-efficacy, and athlete's performance in a competition. The objective of this 2-part study was to discover how earlier competitive experience influences the young gymnasts' level of anxiety, perception of control, and self-efficacy. An additional goal was to explore the potential impact of Guided imagery (GI) and Autogenic training (AGT) in reducing precompetitive anxiety. In the first study, 80 USAG Junior Olympic female gymnasts between the ages of 7 and 16 (40 compulsory level and 40 optional level) participated. The purpose was to test differences in levels of PCA, locus of control, and self-efficacy among optional level and compulsory level gymnasts. An independent samples t test and a Mann-Whitney nonparametric test showed that optional level gymnasts had higher cognitive anxiety, lower confidence level, and higher internal locus of control compared with compulsory level gymnasts, with no significant mean difference in somatic anxiety and self-efficacy. For the second study, 30 participants were divided into 3 treatment groups: (a) AGT group, (b) GI group, and (c) control group. Results of repeated measure ANOVAs revealed that mean anxiety scores decreased over time for the autogenic group as compared to the control and guided imagery group. The internal LOC mean scores were lower for the autogenic group, compared to the other groups, but internal locus of control did increase over time for the autogenic group. The social significance of this study suggests that enhanced performance and enjoyment in sports may allow athletes to remain active in sports while teaching them life-long strategies to reduce anxiety and stress in their lives.

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