Creating Stress-free Learning Environments for Sport and Physical Education

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education, 2014, 5 (1), pp. 15 - 21 (7)
Issue Date:
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Exercise participation is usually recognised for its anxiolytic properties. However, performance anxiety in physical education and sport may also be faced by those students perceiving a negative difference between their degree of competence or self-worth in terms of sporting skill, and the perceived demands of a class activity, sporting competition, or training situation. While the response to feeling anxious is not always negative, anxiety usually results in a “fight or flight” response creating an elevated heart rate and a release of adrenaline preparing the body for action. Anxiety may serve as an in-built warning system for an individual student of their personal vulnerability in an upcoming activity, drill, or game situation. An inability to manage sporting performance anxiety can negatively impact a student's participation, enjoyment, and positive skill development, even deterring future exercise and sporting activities. The key to managing sport and exercise-related anxiety is achieving an optimal level. The teacher or coach needs to challenge students sufficiently to prepare mind and body for exercise, without an individual overextending into anxiety levels that create negative performance. Bringing together the disciplines of sport and physical education, we explore the nature of anxiety, and practical sports psychology techniques the teacher or sports coach can introduce to help students manage sports anxiety and create supportive learning environments. Helping students overcome sporting performance anxiety will assist them in performing at their best and will teach important skills they can apply for the rest of their future sporting and exercise activities.
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