Sport’s psychology is the study of differing psychological and mental factors that can influence the degree of participation in sport and other physically demanding activities. To facilitate the maximisation of player performance, sports psychology focuses on enhancing and controlling four primary principles; motivation, confidence, arousal and team cohesion. Within each of these areas, the current Caloundra State High School touch football team is encountering difficulties that are deterring their ability to attain individual and team peak performances. To ensure that one of these issues is addressed, the following analytical exposition will discuss the team’s arousal levels, analyse and evaluate the team’s current performance and provide recommendations to develop optimum arousal levels. If the strategies incorporated within the psychological intervention are accurately applied to CSHS’s touch team, the efficiency of players and overall performance of the team will undoubtedly improve.
One of the most significant underlying concepts associated with sports psychology is arousal. Arousal is commonly referred to as an individual’s bodily state of activation, which essentially affects the athlete’s degree of preparedness to perform (CSHS 2013, p84) ‘Arousal is greatly dependent on what is ‘driving’ performance at a particular time,’ meaning, ‘an athlete’s immediate motivation is therefore, responsible for setting the body’s level of activation’ (CSHS 2013, p84) More specifically an athlete’s level of arousal is determined by an array of physiological or psychological factors, that are categorized as physical, mental and emotional arousal. Of the two components associated with the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system generates psychological changes and is responsible for creating arousal. An athlete’s arousal can be determined by their degree of brain waves, heart rate, muscle tension, respiration rate and biochemical indicators.
Within sports psychology, it is commonly known that ‘…arousal is a necessary ingredient in sports performance, and its level can decline, facilitate or hinder the execution of specific skills or task components (Charles Sturt University, 2011) If an athlete is lacking in arousal, it is often because they are either over or under aroused. Signs of over-relaxation or a lack of interest are often indicators of under-arousal, meaning the athletes arousal levels are below the desired or optimum state. Common causes of under-arousal are usually the under-preparedness or over-confidence of an athlete for an impending performance. When this occurs, the prevalence of distractions and the inability to focus or concentrate escalates significantly. On the other hand, over-arousal often occurs when ‘levels are above those required by an athlete to produce a peak performance’ and results in ‘…excess adrenaline levels that revisit in variations to their speed and power’ (CSHS 2013, p86) External stimuli including fans, coaches or fellow team members, as well as internal stimuli such as a desire to win, usually place excessive pressure on the athlete, and produce over-arousal.
Beginning their season on a winning streak, the Caloundra SHS touch team have progressed into the mid-season phase and are noticing considerable deficiencies in their recent performances. Certain team members appear to be lacking optimum arousal levels, and are subsequently ‘choking’ and experiencing high levels of anxiety, due to the degree of pressure placed upon the team. This anxiety is demonstrated through their lack of confidence, poor skill execution, and ability to easily make mistakes, which is costing the team games. As a result, fellow team mates are becoming ill-tempered, taking their frustrations out on one another, and essentially causing dissonance within the team. Conversely, these team members are competent in delivering consistent, peak performances due to their ability to gain optimal