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Student ID, Name & Signature: Ng Jing Xuan Rebecca | 16003329

Date: 9th January 2018                              

Module: S214 Sports and Exercise Psychology                       

Class Code & Name of Lecturer: W67J | Sanjana Kiran                     






This essay is based on an athlete who participates in Sanda, a combat sport. Due to confidential issues, her name will be known as Thea. As an 18-year-old recreational athlete with no experiences but hopes to be selected into the National Team. Sanda requires a balance between strength, endurance, and explosive power which makes the training demands. Both physical and mental aspects are important in this sport. Self-efficacy as you need to be confident to execute your techniques. Anxiety as you maintain composure under stressful circumstances. Goal-setting as you should be aware of your actions during competitions. According to Thea’s ACSI results, she faces issues regarding the essential mental aspects of the sport which resulted in difficulty of showcasing her techniques.




Low self-confidence, resulting from low self-efficacy, is a psychological aspect Thea faces. It indicates the lack of faith in her skills, resulting in her inability to execute techniques. Self-efficacy, defined as the personal judgment made by individuals based on the courses of actions. Inter-related with intrinsic motivation, performances will be enhanced when athletes perceive high self-efficacy and trust their abilities. (Sari, Ekici, Soyer, & Eskiler, 2015).


Applying Bandura’s Theory, there are 4 factors influencing Thea’s self-efficacy. Experiences from successful performances can increase Thea’s self-efficacy through the application of her knowledge. However, with her inexperience, she lacked the self-confidence to showcase her abilities. Vicarious experiences where Thea was unable to exploit her teammates’ mistakes and learn from it. Unable to learn from others’ mistakes, she’s unable to identify and improve her techniques. With the lack of positive verbal persuasion, it may have resulted in her low self-efficacy due to the doubts of her abilities. Resulting from negative verbal persuasion, Thea’s emotional arousal and motivation could have been affected, causing her to feel discouraged, affecting her performance. (Negativity, 2010). Through Bandura’s Theory, it shows how each factor can greatly affect the performance of an athlete.

Assuming that Thea’s low self-efficacy is the result of vicarious experiences, finding a role model can be a solution. Studies have found that people watching skilled models who were similar to the observers themselves experienced enhanced self-efficacy and performance. (Gould, Weiss & Weinberg, 1981, Lirgg & Feltz, 1991). Through a role model, Thea can learn about his/her experiences and apply advises in situations.

Anxiety and Arousal

With the inability to compose herself under competition situations, Thea faces anxiety and arousal as a psychological issue. Correlated with low self-efficacy, individuals facing low self-efficacy are allegedly vulnerable to anxiety as they dwell on their weaknesses. It denotes their low aspirations in the face of challenges. Anxiety defined as a negative emotional state characterized by nervousness, worry, and apprehension associated with the arousal of the body, (Weinberg & Gould, 1995), it shows how anxiety can greatly affect performance. Categorized under cognitive and somatic anxiety, differentiating both are essential due to the various effects during the performance. Inter-related with self-confidence, cognitive anxiety concerns the extent of an individual’s negative thoughts, where high self-confidence results in low cognitive anxiety. (Muñoz, Cayetano, Calle, Blanco, De Mena Ramos, Vicente, & Muñoz, 2017). Somatic anxiety refers to the physical symptoms of anxiety such as butterflies in the stomach. Despite that, it is foremost to overcome anxiety for Thea to perform. The different types of anxiety can affect the performance levels of Thea which will either benefit or harm her.


Through zone of optimal functioning training, maximum performance will be presented through individualized emotional arousal, which is defined as a sport-specific structure that recounts for the relationship between emotional experiences and relative success in sporting tasks of the basis of individual patterns. (Montse, Saara, Asko, Claudio, & Joan, 2017). It indicates the different levels of the zone for individualized athletes, determining the level of anxiety required for optimal performance.  Through optimal arousal level, identification of dysfunctional emotions occurs which causes a decrease in Thea’s self-efficacy level. Arousal levels can affect both the physiological and psychological aspect of Thea. Excessive anxiety and arousal level may result in increased heart rate, causing her to feel nervous. Discovery of the individualized zone through optimal functioning training allows an athlete to cope with anxiety and prepare himself/herself for the performance.


Coping with anxiety is never easy, but Thea can implement positive self-talk, a form of mental training to reduce tension. An example of positive self-talk is, “I’m willing to take on this challenge.”, which exhibits the self-confidence. Reducing negative self-talks and fortifying positive thoughts and gestures increases self-efficacy which results in improvements in performance. (Hamilton, Scott, MacDougall, 2007).



Goal-setting, a psychological area that Thea faces, is essential in Sanda as it provides opportunities for self-evaluation of performance. (Gill, 2013). This ensures Thea to know of the improvements that will benefit her performance. (Gill, 2013). With different aspects of goal-setting, outcome, performance, and process goals, identifying and differentiating them will result in various outcomes. The focus of outcome goals is directed to the results, indicating the unpredictability. (Burton, 1983/1984/1989, Martens, 1987). Performance goals focus on improvements relative to past performances. In relation, process goals refer to the engaging procedures done. Adding time-frames increases the motivation of Thea during training and competitions. Having a long-term goal of being in the National Team, Thea can set short-term goals to aid her in progress. Through short-term goals, she can focus on improving her physical abilities through challenges that she set.


Applying Achievement Motivation Theory, referring to a person’s effort to master a task, achieving excellence, overcoming obstacles, perform better than others, and take pride in exercising talent (Murray, 1938), Thea can set task-focused and/or outcome-focused goals. Both goals have different beliefs and focuses which results in different consequences. Individuals who seek challenges can set task-focused goals where the focus is directed to mastery of techniques. Achievement-driven and competitive individuals can opt for outcome-focused goals where the focus is centered around displaying their skills. Along with these, the S.M.A.R.T.E.R principles can be applied to set realistic goals relevant to Sanda. Specific and meaningful goals relevant to Sanda is achievable through constant training. Time-bound goals act as a motivator for Thea to complete them within a period. Evaluation and readjustments where progress towards goals can be verified and updated. With these, it can improve Thea’s performance as she motivates herself to accomplish the goals she set.


To overcome goal-setting, S.M.A.R.T.E.R principles can be applied to set practical goals. An example of setting a specific task-focused goal is completing a 2.4km run within 10 minutes. Through goal-setting, consistent improvement in performance can be observed as it results in greater self-confidence after successful achievements. (Hanton, Mellalieu, O’Brien, 2009).



This essay discussed the psychological issues and mental weaknesses that Thea faces.


As an athlete who improved her self-efficacy, you can anticipate Thea to be more confident in her skillset, being to execute the techniques despite pressuring situations.


Through mental preparation to manage anxiety, you would anticipate Thea to maintain her composure, resulting in enhanced performances as she doesn’t give in to apprehension.


Applying the mentioned theory and principles of goal-setting, you would expect Thea to be more disciplined and focused in training as she keeps track of her progress and goals.


Through the recommended solutions, it is believed that upon the application, there will be positive behavioral changes made by Thea.


Word Count: 1208 words




SARI, ?., EKICI, S., SOYER, F., & ESKILER, E. (2015). Does self-confidence link to motivation? A study in field hockey athletes. Journal Of Human Sport & Exercise, 10(1), 24-35.

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NEGATIVITY. (2010). Journal of Pure Power, 5(2), 64-67.

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Problem 02 Pre-readings



Problem 06 6th Presentation


Parfitt, G., & Pates, J. (1999). The effects of cognitive and somatic anxiety and self-confidence on components of performance during competition. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 17(5), 351-356. doi:10.1080/026404199365867

Retrieved from

Hamilton, R. A., Scott, D., & MacDougall, M. P. (2007). Assessing the Effectiveness of Self-Talk Interventions on Endurance Performance. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology, 19(2), 226-239.

Retrieved from


Montse C. Ruiz, Saara Haapanen, Asko Tolvanen, Claudio Robazza, Joan L. Duda. (2017) Predicting athletes’ functional and dysfunctional emotions: The role of the motivational climate and motivation regulations. Journal of Sports Sciences 35:16, pages 1598-1606. 

Retrieved from



Gill, G. S. (2013). THE EFFECTS OF GOAL SETTING ON BASKETBALL PERFORMANCE. International Journal Of Sports Sciences & Fitness, 3(1), 54-65.

Retrieved from


Problem 07 Pre-readings


Problem 04 6th Presentation


O’Brien, M., Mellalieu, S., & Hanton, S. (2009). Goal-Setting Effects in Elite and Nonelite Boxers. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology, 21(3), 293-306.

Retrieved from



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