Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Megan, Byrd

Committee Member 1

Brandonn, Harris

Committee Member 2

Jenna, Tomalski


During the Fall of 2021, 45% of male and 72% of female student-athletes reported overwhelming anxiety at least once a month (NCAA, 2021). In addition to affecting an individual’s well-being, anxiety may negatively impact athletic performance (Edwards & Hardy, 1996). To better understand the impact of anxiety on athletic performance and develop effective interventions, both the intensity and direction of symptoms experienced must be considered. Incremental beliefs have been shown to be related to desirable performance outcomes and increased well-being in various populations (Danthony et al., 2020; Dweck, 2008), and may provide an effective intervention to interpret anxiety as more facilitative. This study set the foundation by analyzing the relationship between athletes’ implicit beliefs and their competitive trait anxiety. The intensity and direction of competitive trait anxiety symptoms were quantitatively assessed using a modified version of the Sport Anxiety Scale-2 (SAS-2; Smith et al., 2006), and implicit beliefs were measured using the Theories of Anxiety Scale (TOA; Schroder et al., 2015). The sample (n = 114) consisted of collegiate student-athletes from both co-active and interactive sports. Results suggest that implicit beliefs are related to the intensity of competitive anxiety symptoms (r (112) = -.485, p < .001), meaning higher incremental beliefs are related to lower levels of competitive anxiety. Therefore, this study provides initial support that implicit beliefs may have a considerable impact on managing student-athletes’ anxiety levels. However, results demonstrated that how student-athletes interpreted their anxiety symptoms was not affected by their implicit beliefs about anxiety. Further research is required to gain a better understanding of the predictors of a facilitative interpretation of competitive anxiety. The implications of these findings include recognizing the need to gain deeper insights into underlying implicit beliefs that impact student-athletes’ experiences and how to assess and utilize those beliefs in applied practice.

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Research Data and Supplementary Material