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Performance Emotions in an Elite Archer: A Case Study.

The main goal of the investigation was to test predictions derived from the Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) model comprising facilitating and inhibiting emotions. The IZOF model suggests that an athlete is most likely to achieve best performance when prestart emotion intensities are close to the emotion intensities related to recalled optimal performances. Conversely, poor performance is expected when prestart emotion intensities are near to the emotion intensities linked to recalled ineffective performances. To test this hypothesis, a single-subject study was carried Out on an elite female archer during practice and competition at the 1995 world archery championships. A multidimensional approach was chosen incorporating emotions, heart rate pattern, and performance measures. Intraindividual analyses revealed that most emotion scores were near to recalled poor performance scores, particularly before competitive events. The dysfunctional pre-start emotion pattern was followed by non-optimal hear t rate pattern, dysfunctional behavior, and poor shooting scores. These findings gave support to the IZOF-based predictions of emotion-performance relationships.

The ability to establish and maintain optimal emotional conditions before and during competition is one of the most important factors to succeed in sport. For this reason, a growing number of researchers are today concerned with the emotional reactions of the athlete facing competition. The study of emotions can expand knowledge on factors affecting performance and give information to plan specific intervention strategies helping athletes fulfill their potential. Research on emotions was initially addressed to the study of anxiety and psychological factors inhibiting performance (for discussions, see Hackfort & Spielberger, 1989: Jones & Hardy, 1990). Anxiety, in particular, was analyzed first unidimensionally and then multidimensionally on its cognitive and somatic components. Cognitive anxiety is thought to be characterized by worry, doubts, negative expectations on performance, and perceived threats to self-esteem. Somatic anxiety, on the other hand, is assumed to be related to augmented physiological act ivation perceived by the subject as somatic reaction to stress (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990). Cognitive and somatic anxiety symptoms hurting athletic performance can be treated by several multimodal stress management strategies specifically designed to help performers (Burton, 1990; Meichenbaum, 1985; Suinn, 1986). Somatic symptoms, however, are not always detrimental, rather, they can be advantageous when the increased arousal is perceived by the subject as physiological condition facilitating performance. The individual experience of arousal is a key factor. Somatic symptoms perceived as debilitating are associated with doubts, dreads, images of failure, and low self-confidence: symptoms interpreted as positive are instead linked to thoughts of success, pleasant imagery, and self-confidence (Apter, 1989; Jones & Swain, 1992; Martens, 1987). Confidence on one's capabilities, that is the perception to successfully respond to specific demands of a situation, acts contrasting the negative effects of anxiety . Bandura (1977) introduced the concept of self-efficacy to define the strength of one's conviction to adequately execute a given task. When an athlete has skills and competence to successfully perform, a high self-efficacy tends to contrast the detrimental effects of anxiety or to induce symptoms reinterpretation. Jones and Swain (1992), for example, showed that highly competitive athletes were higher on self-confidence and perceived their anxiety as more facilitative and less debilitative than low competitive athletes. Differences were also shown between elite and nonelite athletes in their interpretations of cognitive and somatic anxiety symptoms in terms of their consequences for upcoming performance, with the elite group reporting more facilitative and less debilitative responses (Jones & Swain, 1995).

Individual differences in interpretation of anxiety are also emphasized in the Hanin's (1980, 1986) Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) model. Simply stated, the IZOF notion holds that each individual has an optimal range of state anxiety where he or she performs best. Hence, anxiety intensity should be examined intra-individually rather than exclusively at the group level. The individual zones of optimal functioning can be identified through two methods: the empirical and the retrospective recall methods. In the empirical method the athletes are assessed longitudinally throughout a season and then state anxiety levels preceding best performance serve as optimal zone. In the retrospective method the athletes have to identify how in the past they felt prior to personal best performances, and the recalled pre-start anxiety levels are used as reference. Both methods enable to contrast current pre-start anxiety with individual optimal pre-start anxiety and, on this base, predict success or failure on the task at hand. For successful performance it is assumed that pre-competition anxiety be near the optimum or fall within the IZOF. Thus, optimal anxiety can below, moderate, or high, depending on the athlete. When pre-competition anxiety is outside the zone (i.e., anxiety is too high or too low), poor performance is expected (Hanin, 1986, 1989; Krane, 1993; Raglin, 1992; Salminen, Liukkonen, Hanin, & Hyv[ddot{o}]nen, 1995).

The IZOF model has been recently extended to comprise positive and negative emotions other than anxiety. Results highlighted that athletes possess specific individual patterns of positive and negative affect related to optimal and poor performances. Emotions may have facilitating, debilitating, or both effects on performance, depending on their idiosyncratic meaning and intensities (Hanin & Syrja, 1995a, 1995b; Syrja, Hanin, &Pesonen, 1995; Syrja, Hanin, & Tarvonen, 1995). When near competition an optimal pattern occurs, that is positive and negative emotions are inside the success zone and outside the failure zone, good performance is expected. On the contrary, when affect pattern is outside success zone and inside failure zone, ineffective performance is likely (see Hanin, 1997, for review).

The experience of arousal is a key factor on emotion appraisal (Kerr, 1997). The challenge of competition frequently causes enhanced activation on the athlete. Modifications in physiological parameters, such as increased respiration and heart rate, muscular tension, and sweating, can be interpreted as signals of detrimental internal conditions and be associated with debilitating emotions. On the other hand, when the enhanced arousal is perceived as a sign of adequate preparation for performance, it is easily associated with facilitating emotions. Therefore, meaning and intensity of emotions potentially exert beneficial or detrimental effects on forthcoming performance depending on the idiosyncratic perception.

Investigations designed to test the expanded IZOF model comprising emotions other than anxiety are to date quite scarce, and measures used were emotions and performance (Robazza, Bortoli, & Nougier, 1999; Robazza, Bortoli, Zadro, & Nougier, 1998; Syrja, Hanin, & Pesonen, 1995; Syrja, Hanin, & Tarvonen, 1995; for discussion, see Gould & Tuffey, 1996; Hanin, 1997). This study was intended to be another test of the IZOF model taking into account anxiety and other idiosyncratic emotions in an elite athlete during a top level competition. Furthermore, to deeply explore the emotion-performance relationship, a multidimensional approach was chosen by incorporating not only emotions and performance but physiological measures as well (Hackfort & Schwenkmezger, 1993; Prapavessis, Grove, McNair, & Cable, 1992). According to the IZOF hypothesis, good performance would be expected if current pre-performance emotion scores were closer to the recalled optimal than to the recalled ineffective emotion pattern. Conversely, poo r performance would be expected if current pre-performance emotion scores were closer to the recalled ineffective than to the recalled optimal emotion pattern. Emotions were cognitively assessed following a mixed nomothetic-idiographic approach inspired by Hanin's IZOF model, and heart rate during performance was chosen as a non-intrusive psychophysiological measure of organism activation. As previously discussed, increased heart rate can be individually interpreted as arousal beneficial to performance or as a symptom of negative stress. Heart rate pattern, moreover, offers insights into attentional processes. Deceleration in heart rate of experienced athletes in the few seconds prior to execution of a motor response has been reported in precision sports associated with good performance (Boutcher & Zinsser, 1990; Hatfield, Landers, & Ray, 1987; Landers, Han, Salazar, Petruzzello, Kubitz, & Gannon, 1994). Lacey (1967) proposed the intake-rejection hypothesis, suggesting that when attention is externally focuse d, heart rate tends to decrease, and when attention is internally oriented, heart rate increases. In archery, in the few seconds (4-7 sec) before the arrow release, the archer's attention is externally oriented to control the sight-target alignment. In this phase, cardiac deceleration usually found in expert subjects is a marker of efficaciously focused attention (Landers et al, 1994). In this study, besides emotions and cardiac activity, shooting scores and number of incomplete shots were recorded in order to evaluate performance outcomes and performance behavior, respectively. An incomplete shot is when the archer, after having nocked the arrow and started drawing action, decides not to release the arrow. The action is thus interrupted, the starting position resumed, and the athlete has to restart shooting. This happens because of one's own uncertainty about execution control (internal disturbances) or external distractions (external disturbances) hindering performance. Incomplete shots are not functional f or performance and usually appear when insecurity arises; the action must be repeated in conditions of increased fatigue and greater temporal constraints (six arrows must be shot in four minutes during competition).

Consequences of emotions upon performance and heart rate pattern were in this study hypothesized using the IZOF as framework. More precisely, good performance would be expected if current pre-performance emotion scores matched the recalled optimal emotion pattern. Optimal conditions would be followed by high shooting scores, low number (or absence) of incomplete shots, and heart rate deceleration pattern before arrow release; furthermore, possible increase in heart rate should be experienced by the performer as optimal arousal. The opposite would be expected to occur if pre-performance emotion scores matched the recalled ineffective emotion pattern. Dysfunctional conditions would be followed by poor shooting scores, incomplete shots, and possible increase in heart rate perceived by the athlete as detrimental arousal. Increased arousal associated with debilitating emotions could lead to lack of heart rate deceleration pattern. A bad psychophysical state is likely to impair the perceptual information processin g found to be associated with the heart rate deceleration. However, no empirical findings on modification of heart rate deceleration linked to attention processes during top level competitive events were found in the literature.

A case study was chosen to test the above hypotheses. Single-subject designs, although presenting obvious limits for results generalization, allow deep knowledge on individual reactions especially when carried out in an ecologically valid, real life competition environment. Compared to research in more controlled settings, such as those in labs, field research is usually more difficult because of reluctance of athletes and coaches to take part in surveys during important events. The delicate psychological balance of the competing athlete was considered and non invasive assessments were planned. Moreover, useful applications deriving from the research were identified and explained in advance to the athlete, making the study sensed and valued.



The participant in this study was a 22-year-old female athlete of the Italian archery National team at the 1995 World Archery Championships in Jakarta. She started competing when 13 years old, and had been part of the National team for six years while gaining experience from international competitions. She trained almost on a daily basis for at least three hours. Close to international competitions she practiced twice daily. In her career she won one Italian championship and obtained some important results in international events. Her best national and international achievements during the '95 competitive season, personal records, and results obtained on the world championships in Jakarta are reported, for each shooting distance, on Table 1. Performances considered by the archer as acceptable results are also reported on Table 1. Main goals of the research were explained to the archer and the coach, and both agreed with interest to take part in the investigation.


The psychological assessment relied on a combination of two procedures. The first procedure was developed by Murphy, Greenspan, Jowdy and Tammen (1989) and modified by Krane (1994) to measure pre-competitive somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety, and self-confidence with a 3-item scale (the Mental Readiness Form-3: MRF-3). Each of the three MRF-3 items was designed to correspond with a subscale of the 27-item Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2; Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990), thus providing a less intrusive measure of competitive state anxiety and confidence. The MRF-3 anchor terms on an 11-point Likert-type scale were: not worried-worried, not tense-tense, and not confident-confident. The scale allows a between subject comparison on common psychological variables (nomothetic approach) when research is extended to more subjects. Concurrent validity was investigated by Krane (1994). Correlations between tension, worry, and confidence scores with corresponding CSAI-2 subscale scores were .59, .58, and -.77. The MRF-3 was chosen as anxiety nomothetic measure because extensive research on multidimensional anxiety demonstrated how somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety, and self-confidence greatly and differently affect performance (for review and discussion, see Hardy, Jones, & Gould, 1996; Jones & Hardy, 1990).

The second psychological assessment procedure was an idiographic emotion scaling derived from Hanin's IZOF notion. It was based on past optimal and ineffective performance recall, thus enabling within-subject analysis of individual reactions (idiographic approach). Idiosyncratic psychological profiling is carried out by submitting to the participant a list of emotions many athletes perceive during competition. The subject is then required to select pleasant and unpleasant pre-start emotions usually associated with optimal personal performances in the past (facilitating emotions). The same procedure, based on retrospective recall, is repeated for emotions related to poor performances (inhibiting emotions). An 1 l-point Likert scale 1 = (low intensity) to 11 = (maximum intensity) was then used to identify intensity of each facilitating and inhibiting emotion, in order to provide a same unit of measure for nomothetic and idiographic assessments. Research findings on anxiety showed that recalled optimal anxiety values correlated (rs = .60 to .80) with actual anxiety levels reported before competition (see Annesi, 1997, for a review). Satisfactory reliability of individualized positive-facilitating, positive-inhibiting, negative-facilitating, and negative-inhibiting affect scales was reported on Olympic-level soccer players (Hanin & Syrja, 1996). Mean intra-individual alphas ranged from .76 to .90 for the different subscales, with positive and negative facilitating items having the highest internal consistency (.90, SD = .04). The players were also accurate in oneday predictions and in immediate post-performance recalls of pre-game affect in international matches. The idiographic approach was chosen because it was a Sensitive measure of the individual emotional experience toward competition. Group-based questionnaires are criticized by some investigators because only a limited number of emotions are usually considered, with emphasis typically placed on anxiety or negative emotions inhibiting performance (see Hanin, 1 997; Hanin & Syrja, 1995a). The need to take into account meaningful and relevant emotions for the individual performer was one of the reasons leading Hanin (1997, Hanin & Syrja, 1995a, 1995b, 1996) to develop the IZOF idiographic approach.

Shooting scores at 70-meter distance from target were collected as performance outcome measures, with a single shot potentially ranging from a low of 0 to a high of 10 (the center of the target). Ends of six shootings were used during practice to conform with competition requirements. Performance behavior data was also collected counting the number of incomplete shots during the ends. As previously described, incomplete shots indicate performance difficulties since they tend to appear associated with internal or external disturbances (e.g., worry, insecurity, fatigue, distractions).

Heart rate was assessed through a monitor (Polar Sport Tester) composed of wrist receiver and thoracic belt with a pulse transmitter. The instrument allowed a 5-sec recording sampling (the heart rate was averaged every 5-sec). The data collected throughout the performance was then transferred to a computer by interface. Temporal phases of archery shooting sequence were also recorded to be then linked to heart rate pattern. The starting time of draw and aim, and the time of arrow release are two critical moments of the shooting sequence. They were recorded by the expert coach through a chronometer synchronized with the heart rate monitor.


The investigation was divided into four stages: (1) individual psychological profiling, (2) psychological profile confirmation, (3) monitoring of heart rate and emotions during practice and competition, and (4) final interview and performance evaluation.

On the first phase, the archer was explained how affect, mental attitudes, and psychophysiological responses exert a combined influence on performance particularly when facing competition. Psychological and physiological monitoring was emphasized as an important way to understand individual reactions, and to gain information on how to consciously control conditions leading to peak performance. The archer gave her formal assent for participation. She was informed that during competition each individual perceives specific levels of tension (somatic anxiety), worry (cognitive anxiety), confidence, and idiosyncratic emotions. Tension was described as a state of enhanced arousal with increased heart rate, blood pressure, rate of respiration, muscular tension, trembling, and sweaty hands. Worry was outlined as perception of apprehension, doubts, and threats on personal attainments usually disturbing attention and performance. Self-confidence was depicted as the conviction to succeed by relying on one's ability. Ps ychological profiling of idiosyncratic emotions was conducted submitting a list of 64 emotions to the archer (the list was derived from Hanin & Syrj[ddot{a}], 1995a, I 995b), and then requiring the archer to select up to three emotions, pleasant or unpleasant, usually associated with optimal personal performances. The same procedure was repeated for emotions related to poor performance. Thinking about past optimal performances, the participant was to rate on the Likert scale the intensity of pre-start tension, worry, self-confidence, and the six personal emotions previously identified (three facilitating and three inhibiting). The same rating procedure was then repeated thinking to past poor performances. Hence, two intensity scores were identified for each of the nine items, one associated with optimal and one with poor performance. The limited number of items was set to shorten monitoring time, as assessment prior to practice and competition would be frequently applied. The archer was then explained that th e emotional profile would enable quick comparison with the ongoing situation. Broad differences between ideal and actual conditions would act as a sign of difficulty.

On the second phase, a first assessment took place the day after the emotional profiling and before practice, requiring the archer to rate the intensity of each emotion on the scale 1 to 11. A reexamination of the recalled emotions and their intensity scores related to recalled optimal and poor performances was carried out the following day in order to make the psychological profile more reliable. The archer partially modified her profile previously set substituting the term "excited" with "determined." The intensity scores related to recalled performances were also given to the new item.

On the third phase, the fifteen minutes preceding the event, practice or competition, the archer rated each emotion on the Likert scale. The "how you feel right now" direction was used, and seven assessments were performed. The first assessment was accomplished two days before championship in the morning, on the field, prior to practice. The second assessment was taken the following day before official practice. The third assessment was carried out before the first distance of competition (shooting distance: 70 meters) while the fourth assessment took place the same day during break, before the second distance of competition (60 meters). The fifth and the sixth assessments were completed the fourth day (second phase of qualification round) prior to first distance (50 meters) and prior to second distance (30 meters). The last assessment was completed the fifth day before individual elimination final round comprising only one shooting distance (70 meters). The heart rate was monitored during each practice sess ion few days before the beginning of competition, and then during some phases of the championship (official practice and final round). Temporal phases of archery shooting sequence (draw and aim, and arrow release) were recorded by the coach and then linked to heart rate pattern. Shooting scores for each arrow and number of incomplete shots were also collected.

On the final phase, a personal interview was conducted with the archer the day after the conclusion of the championships. The discussion took into account emotional, physiological, behavioral, and performance assessments to better understand individual experience and identify needs and future goals for psychological counseling.


Shooting scores of the archer at the world championships are reported in Table I as are her national and international achievements during the year, her records, and what she considered acceptable outcomes. Past achievements revealed that the current performance was very poor. Just one competition--the third of the European championships--was worse than the current. Outcomes were not only far below personal records, but also far from expected results; this appeared on shooting scores for each distance and on the total score. Incomplete shots were never found in the different shooting distances during practice sessions. However, they appeared in competition across shooting distances with a mean of 1.54 (SD = .88) for each round (six shootings), thus confirming the negative performance under stressful conditions.

In the emotional profiling, "determined," "focused," and "satisfied" were chosen by the archer as facilitating emotions, while "discouraged," "insecure," and "aggressive" were selected as inhibiting emotions. Intra-individual alpha of the 9-item nomothetic-idiographic scale based on the seven repeated assessments was .96; therefore, the scale revealed good reliability. Raw scores of the items across the seven assessments are reported in Table 2. Difference scores between actual and recalled optimal performances, and between actual and recalled poor performances are also reported in Table 2. As can be shown, the affect scores assessed on the first day of practice were similar to those of the official practice, even though slight worsening in the psychological conditions appeared; seven of the nine emotions were near recalled optimal performances on the first day and five emotions on the second day (the score of "focused" was equally distant from recalled optimal and recalled poor performances). The worsening of the psychological state was more evident on competition and affect scores and remained very similar across the five assessments. As can be seen in Table 2, differences of actual affect scores from recalled optimal and recalled poor performance scores unveiled an unfavorable trend of emotions on competition. Six of the nine item scores were consistently close to recalled poor performances. These items were the three nomothetic ("tensed," "worried," and "confident") and the three facilitating emotions. Interestingly, the three inhibiting emotion scores remained close to recalled optimal performances across all the seven assessments. This finding can reflect the athlete's reluctance to admit psychological difficulties just before the competitive event. The recognition of a bad emotional state that would sharply emerge by the scaling procedure of debilitating emotions could negatively act, increasing further debilitating thoughts and emotions. In the final interview, the archer acknowledged her psychological p roblems before competitive events and the difficulty to score the idiosyncratic debilitating items according to her actual conditions. No scoring difficulties were reported by the archer on the nomothetic items or on the idiosyncratic facilitating emotions although she was aware of the negative trend.

Worsening of the psychological condition from practice to competition was also confirmed by the heart rate pattern assessed during the 18 shots at a 70-meter distance from the target. Mean heart rate pattern is represented in Figure 1, taking into account four temporal shooting phases: (a) 5-sec before execution; (b) start of draw and aim; (c) the moment of arrow release; and (d) 5-sec after release. As shown, heart rate progressively increased from practice to official practice, and from official practice to competition, while performance decreased from practice (M = 51.00, SD = 2.10) and official practice (M = 50.17, SD = 2.97) to competition (M = 46.67, SD = 2.49) (18 shots at 70 meters). Moreover, the heart rate deceleration from draw and aim to release--a marker of appropriately focused attention--tended to fade during competition. This is also visible in Figure 2 where complete heart rate patterns of last ends of official practice and competition are plotted. Compared to practice, heart rate during com petition was higher, and its pattern was less regular, and the archer executed three incomplete shots (never found in practice).

The monitoring of heart rate and emotions during the championship was discussed with the archer the day after the event. The archer confirmed her perception of pre-competition debilitating affect, and arousal higher than optimal was perceived deleterious to performance. Feelings of apprehension and doubts of her own abilities to face situational demands tended to increase along with heart rate and physical tension. This clearly appeared in her statements: "Before competition I was doubtful about my capabilities to perform well[ldots] My heart raced, the muscles became tense, my hands sweaty[ldots] I felt the pressure of the competition, got nervous, stressed, not able to appropriately keep focused attention and to control the execution[ldots] I should change attitude toward competition and regain control over my reactions, but actually I don't know what to do."

The multidimensional assessment frequently applied was also discussed with the athlete. Elite performers not always easily accept multidimensional measurements when involved in top level events. Psychophysiological measures in a field setting can be seen as too intrusive and interfering. The archer here reported no interference caused by the measurements. On the contrary, she affirmed that paying attention to her psychological state prior to and during competition aided her in becoming aware of conditions affecting performance. In the same interview, the archer expressed her interest in undertaking mental training procedures specifically aimed at controlling emotions, reducing dysfunctional psychophysical symptoms, and increasing concentration.


The main purpose of the study was to test predictions derived from the IZOF model, adopting a multidimensional approach. An unfavorable pre-start emotion pattern in the athlete was found particularly linked to the competitive events, as six of the nine emotion scores were close to the recalled poor performance scores. On the basis of these results, and following the IZOF-based predictions of emotion-performance relationships, ineffective athletic performance was expected. This was actually found on all measures used, Poor shooting scores, incomplete shots, increased heart rate, and lack of heart rate deceleration while shooting were shown on the archer. When interviewed, the athlete recognized and confirmed her psychological problems before competition and the resulting inadequate performance. The outcomes were far below her capabilities, expectations, and national and international past performances of the year (see Table 1). These findings give support to Hanin's (1997) contentions of pre-start emotion inf luences upon forthcoming performance, although limited to the debilitating consequences of a non-optimal emotion pattern. Emotions are thought to influence performance through generation and utilization of psychophysical energy needed to execute the task (Hanin, 1997; Hanin & Syrja, 1995a). Optimal or dysfunctional effects would depend on the level of energy generated by the organism and on the utilization of such energy. Facilitating emotions would be beneficial to the subject, helping him or her to mobilize and organize functions. Debilitating emotions, on the other hand, would result in "a reversal of energy generation function" (Hanin, 1997, p. 56) (the athlete stops working or do not invest enough effort) or in ineffective utilization of available resources. This interpretation of emotion consequences upon athletic performance seems to be consistent with anecdotal data and empirical results (for discussion, see Hanin, 1997). Yet, more investigation is needed to confirm the energy generation-utilization c onstruct in the athletic context.

The worsening of the archer's psychological conditions from practice to competition and a general non-optimal state was observed on tension, worry, and self-confidence (nomothetic items), and on facilitating emotions. These nomothetic and idiosyncratic items revealed to be reliable measures across assessments, as it was also recognized by the athlete. The inhibiting emotions, however, resulted in not being reliable items because of the athlete's difficulty in overtly recognizing psychological discomfort just before competition. This raises the question of the suitability and even the ethical legitimacy to use debilitating items for applied or research purposes, especially when assessment has to be accomplished just before competition. Research should address the delicate topic of debilitating emotion scaling as well as pre-start assessments. Feasible solutions would be scaling only facilitating emotions, or scoring pre-start emotions hours or days before the event (Hanin, 1986, 1989, 1997).

Another issue in the IZOF model is the emphasis given on intra-individual analyses. They are accomplished comparing emotion raw scores with recalled best and worst performance scores (Hanin & Syrja, 1995a, 1995b). Pre-competition emotion intensity scores are not considered to be important per se, as successful (or unsuccessful) performances are thought to occur when the emotion scores are near to recalled optimal (or poor) performances. Therefore, the optimal level of emotions can below, moderate, or high, depending on the individual. In the present report, the archer rated most of her recalled optimal pre-start emotions as intuitively expected. Worry and debilitating emotions were rated low, while confidence and facilitating emotions were rated high (see Table 2). The opposite occurred to recalled poor pre-start emotions, except for "determined" facilitating emotion that continued being highly scored (eight points). A correct interpretation of "determined" when assessed before competition was possible when compared at intra-individual level. The importance of within-subject analysis also emerged on emotion current assessment during the championships. For instance, "focused" was given medium scores (5-points) across assessments before competitive events. The medium scores could have being misinterpreted indicating a not too bad psychological condition. However, when raw data was compared with recalled performances, the proximity to the recalled poor pattern suggested a worse psychological state than that emerging from raw scores. These findings add support to the use of intra-individual analysis to better understand individual experience. In the case study here reported, within-subject contrasts were, to some extent, also applied on factors other than emotions. For instance, current outcomes were compared to past and expected achievements, while heart rate pattern assessed during competition was compared to data gathered during practice. More comprehensive information was this way obtained and collection of psyc hological, behavioral, psychophysiological, and performance data is also advocated for future research. Repeated multidimensional data collection and within-subject analyses provide reliable and relevant information on the individual (Gould & Tuffey, 1996).

The results of the study so far interpreted within the IZOF framework, can also be in part discussed in terms of the catastrophe theory (Hardy, 1990, 1996). This is another emerging approach on the study of arousal, cognitive anxiety, and performance relationships. A thorough discussion of this theory is beyond the scope of this paper and just a main prediction deriving from the model is here considered. For many years, the well known inverted-U hypothesis has been adopted as dominant theoretical view in explaining the arousal-performance relationship (Yerkes & Dodson, 1908). This hypothesis specifies that good performance in a given task is achieved when an optimal or moderate arousal level is reached, whilst too high or too low arousal would result in decreased performance. In the catastrophe theory, cognitive anxiety (worry) is postulated to interact with arousal and performance in a three-dimensional fashion. A U-shaped relationship between physiological arousal and performance is assumed only when cogni tive anxiety is low. When cognitive anxiety is high, increases in physiological arousal would be connected to enhanced performance up to a certain point, after which a dramatic (catastrophic) deterioration of performance would occur (Hardy, 1990, 1996). In the present research, worry (or cognitive anxiety) symptoms were clearly explained to the archer in the profiling procedure, and the deleterious effects upon performance specified. Tension was presented as a state of enhanced arousal with increased heart and respiration rate, muscular tension, and other arousing symptoms. However, positive or negative effects upon performance were not described, letting the athlete interpret the effects of her symptoms. Therefore in this study, tension can be considered, to some extent, a measure of pre-performance arousal. As can be seen in Table 2, a moderate tension (5 points) and low worry scores (2 points) were usually linked to recalled optimal performances. This trend was slightly modified before practice and officia l practice, where tension and worry scores were near to the recalled optimal performance scores. However, the opposite occurred before competitive events where high scores in tension and worry, close to recalled poor performance scores, were consistently reported. These findings and the resulting ineffective performance agree with the catastrophe theory prediction of a sharp decline in performance when high arousal and high cognitive anxiety are combined.

Another issue in this case report concerns the construct validity of the study. As above discussed, a wide range of information was gathered through psychological, physiological, and performance assessments in a field setting. The collection of different observations in such multidimensional approach tends to increase construct validity of the research (Smith, 1988). Non-optimal emotions, augmented heart rate individually perceived as detrimental for performance, irregular heart rate pattern, incomplete shots, and decreased shooting scores characterized competition. The psychological difficulties leading to poor performance were confirmed by the archer when interviewed. She described her emotions as non-optimal and her symptoms of increased arousal as dysfunctional (excessive muscle tension, racing heart, hampered movement coordination). She also ascribed her poor shooting to these conditions. Besides scores lower than usual, performance impairment was proven by incomplete shots when the archer had to come d own to stance position, regain control and start shooting again. Such behavior is in general energy and time consuming, and for this reason usually discouraged by coaches. Another sign of bad psychophysical state could be the loss of regular heart rate deceleration pattern (see Figures 1 and 2). Heart rate deceleration prior to arrow release is considered a marker of appropriately focused attention in experienced athletes (Landers et al., 1994). However, studies specifically designed to investigate the interactions between heart rate deceleration, attention, and performance in precision sport during competitive events are lacking, and causal links wait to be found. Research findings on anxiety highlighted how high arousal combined with worry determines sudden loss in performance (Hardy, 1990, 1996), possibly because of excessive attentional narrowing and muscular tension (Gould & Tuffey, 1996). Hence, it can be hypothesized that arousal and debilitating affect could have hampered the archer's attentional proc esses and caused the loss of heart rate deceleration associated with the perceptual requirements of the precision task. This hypothesis deserves further investigation to ascertain whether heart rate deceleration is a reliable marker of optimal psychophysical states when athletes face the stressful demands of competition. Practical implications would derive from this line of research. For instance, the individual ability to transfer cognitive and somatic self-regulation strategies from practice to competition, a main concern in applied sport psychology, could be detected by the heart rate deceleration pattern.

Construct validity of the present multidimensional study was enhanced through the interview at the end of the championships. Assessments were graphically presented and discussed with the archer. She recognized her dysfunctional pattern of emotions linked to decreased outcome. The assessments were perceived as useful tools in gaining information and becoming aware of psychological problems. The findings acted as stimulus for the performer to recognize previous unaware thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They also motivated her to undertake mental training after the championships, especially aimed at controlling emotions, learning self-regulation, and coping with competitive stress.

In conclusion, findings of this investigation gave support to the Hanin's (1997; Hanin & Syrj[ddot{a}]a, 1995a, 1995b) recent IZOF-based predictions of emotion-performance relationships, even though limited to the negative consequences of the non-optimal emotion pattern found in the participant. The multidimensional assessments, comprising nomothetic and idiographic affect, heart rate pattern, and performance measures, revealed to be useful in gaining comprehensive information of the whole idiosyncratic athletic experience. Further research is needed to address important issues such as the use of debilitating affect in scaling procedures, the test of the IZOF model within other theoretical frameworks (e.g., the catastrophe model), the application of intra-individual analysis on a variety of psychological, physiological, behavioral, and performance measures, and the heart rate deceleration pattern during competition in precision sports.


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 focussed Archer's National and International
 Achievements, Personal Records, and Acceptable
 Scores for
 Shooting Distances
 30 meters 50 meters 60 meters
National Championships
 First Competition 348 320 330
 Second Competition 337 305 324
 Third Competition 344 321 330
European Championships
 First Competition 336 324 319
 Second Competition 330 304 323
 Third Competition 329 305 311
 Fourth Competition 343 304 323
World Championships (Jakarta) 335 302 316
Records 348 324 332
Acceptable Outcomes 344 320 328
 Total Score
 70 meters
National Championships
 First Competition 312 1310
 Second Competition 312 1278
 Third Competition 317 1312
European Championships
 First Competition 310 1289
 Second Competition 307 1264
 Third Competition 298 1243
 Fourth Competition 309 1279
World Championships (Jakarta) 299 1251
Records 326 1327 [1]
Acceptable Outcomes 320 1300 [1]
(1.)Total Score does not correspond to the sum of scores
for each Shooting Distance as each Record was achieved in
different occasions; Acceptable Outcomes are hypothesized
for each Shooting Distance or Total Score.
 Intensity Scores of Psychological Variables
 Related to Recalled Optimal Performances (ROP),
 Recalled Poor Performances (RPP), and
 Current Phases of Championships [1]
 Mental Facilitating
 Readiness Emotions
 T [2] W C De F S
Recalled Optimal Performances 5 2 9 11 11 10
Recalled Poor Performances 9 10 2 8 1 1
1) First Day: Practice
 Raw Scores 4 5 6 5 8 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores -1 3 -3 -6 -3 -9
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -5 -5 4 -3 7 0
2) Second Day: Official Practice
 Raw Scores 3 4 5 5 6 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores -2 2 -4 -6 -5 -9
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -6 -6 3 -3 5 0
3) Third Day: Qualification
 Round, 1st Distance
 Raw Scores 9 8 3 5 5 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 4 6 -6 -6 -6 -9
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores 0 -2 1 -3 4 0
4) Third Day: Qualification
 Round, 2nd Distance
 Raw Scores 8 9 4 5 5 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 3 7 -5 -6 -6 -9
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -1 -1 2 -3 4 0
5) Fourth day: Qualification
 Round, 1st Distance
 Raw Scores 8 8 4 4 5 2
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 3 6 -5 -7 -6 -8
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -1 -2 2 -4 4 1
6) Fourth Day: Qualification
 Round, 2nd Distance
 Raw Scores 9 9 3 5 5 2
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 4 7 -6 -6 -6 -8
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores 0 -1 1 -3 4 1
7) Fifth Day: Final Round
 Raw Scores 8 9 3 5 5 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 3 7 -6 -6 -6 -9
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -1 -1 1 -3 4 0
 Di I A
Recalled Optimal Performances 1 1 1
Recalled Poor Performances 10 10 9
1) First Day: Practice
 Raw Scores 1 1 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 0 0 0
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -9 -9 -8
2) Second Day: Official Practice
 Raw Scores 3 3 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 2 2 0
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -7 -7 -8
3) Third Day: Qualification
 Round, 1st Distance
 Raw Scores 2 3 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 1 2 0
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -8 -7 -8
4) Third Day: Qualification
 Round, 2nd Distance
 Raw Scores 3 3 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 2 2 0
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -7 -7 -8
5) Fourth day: Qualification
 Round, 1st Distance
 Raw Scores 2 3 2
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 1 2 1
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -8 -7 -7
6) Fourth Day: Qualification
 Round, 2nd Distance
 Raw Scores 3 3 2
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 2 2 1
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -7 -7 -7
7) Fifth Day: Final Round
 Raw Scores 3 3 1
 Actual Scores - ROP Scores 2 2 0
 Actual Scores - RPP Scores -7 -7 -8
(1.)Difference Scores Closer to Recalled Optimal
or Recalled Poor Performances are in italics
(2.) T = Tense, W = Worried, C = Confident,
De = Determined, F = Focused, S = Satisfied,
Di = Discouraged, I = Insecure, A = Aggressive
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Author:Robazza, Claudio; Bortoli, Laura; Nougier, Vincent
Publication:Journal of Sport Behavior
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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