The effect of positive self-talk intervention on salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase levels and competitive anxiety in elite athletes
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Authors
1Department of sport psychology, faculty of physical education and sport sciences, university of Tehran, Iran
2Department of sport psychology, Faculty of sport sciences, University of Tehran, Iran
3Department of sport psychology, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain
Abstract
Introduction: Competition for athletes arise anxiety and psychological pressure. Anxiety is most often used to describe an unpleasant emotional state or condition which is characterized by subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, and worry. Cortisol is known as a marker of HPA axis activity. Physical and psychological stress simulate the hypothalamus and secrete corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), which ultimately leads to increased secretion of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Secreted cortisol enters into brain cells, and increase or decrease of that may cause changes in behavior. The salivary enzyme alpha-amylase has been suggested to reflect stress-related changes in the body. Its secretion is known to be elicited by activation of the autonomic nervous system which controls the salivary glands. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of positive self- talk on competitive anxiety responses, salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase levels in elite athletes.
Methodology: Thirty male elite Wushu athletes (age of range 19-28 years, mean age 23.30 ± 2.94 years) at the national Wushu teams camp who participated in this study and were divided into two experimental and control groups. Competitive anxiety was assessed with the CSAI-2R (Competitive state anxiety inventory- 2 Revised). The samples were tested for free concentration of cortisol and alpha-amylase salivary, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Competitive anxiety, alpha-amylase salivary and cortisol levels were measured in both groups in pre-test (at the first competition). The experimental group performed a 6-session practice about positive self-talk. After that, post-test was performed (at the second competition). Data were analyzed by MANCOVA test.
Results: The results showed that after intervention somatic anxiety (F(1,28)=5.325, p=0.001), cognitive anxiety (F(1,28)=4.531, p=0.002) and salivary cortisol (F(1,28)=4.221, p=0.002) has decreased. but, positive self-talk intervention couldn't reduce alpha-amylase levels (F(1,28)=2.001, p=0.119).
Discussion: In general, it can be concluded that positive self-talk training can reduce psycho-physiological responses of competitive anxiety. Also, it seems that positive self-talk intervention is not effective on short-term stress responses. It is suggested that sport psychologists can use positive self-talk intervention as a strategy to reduce the competitive anxiety in athletes.
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