Music as Therapy in Sports - An Evidence Based Approach

An Evidence Based Approach

Textbook, 2013

99 Pages



Chapter-I : Introduction to Sports

Chapter-II : Stress in sports

Chapter-III : Physiology of Stress

Chapter-IV : Relaxation Therapies

Chapter-V : Physiology of Music

Chapter-VI : Music as Therapy

Chapter-VI : Physiological Relations



Sports that can be taken up by individual or participant regardless of age and sex for recreation and professional involvement. Sport (or sports) is all forms of usually competitive physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment to participants, and in some cases as spectators. Hundreds of sports exist, from those requiring only two participants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. Sport is generally recognized as activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games.

Sports are usually governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner. Winning can be determined by physical events such as scoring goals or crossing a line first, or by the determination of judges who are scoring elements of the sporting performance, including objective or subjective measures such as technical performance or artistic impression.

The development of sports is of great importance in a community in a number of ways such as the development of the individual in terms of health, physical fitness and life as a whole. Secondly, sports development will also lead to economic development where individuals can make a career out of sports. Last but not least sports development can relieve social deprivation and provide lifelong skills that can be transferred to other areas in life. In sports the requirement of good physical and psychological condition as well as technical perfection is highly demanded (Antal et al., 1994).


Competition, implying that one or more individuals carry out some actions directed toward achieving a goal by confronting another individual or group of the same species motivated by the same goal, is a quite frequent situation in human communities or groups at different levels of ''civilized'' development. Competition plays an important social role, not only to get primary reinforce­ments such as food, but also to obtain other secondary resources, such as employment, promotion and admission etc. These secondary resources ultimately make it possible to get the best primary resources. Human competition is common, although the ways of interaction may differ from the more primitive organized groups to the more advanced indus­trialized societies, from direct aggression and violent acts to the use of subtle or Machiavellian strategies. Advancing in the understanding of human competition, its cognitive antecedents, its psychobiological response patterns and its more basic neurobiological mechanisms, will allow us to increase understanding about the basis of individual differences, as a way of improving and addressing their potentially negative effects, thus preventing this allostatic over­load.

In sports anxiety, frustration, or anger (related or unrelated to athletic participation) experienced prior to practice may lead to thoughts such as, "I'm too stressed to practice," which in turn results in the decision to skip practice. This would be an example of rule-governed behavior, as the avoidant behavior is directly governed by the cog­nitive response to the emotion of anxiety (a personal rule established by the individual) and not a choice of action consistent with the valued goal of improving performance, engaging in athletic competition, and enjoying the process of athletic participation.

Stress is most often used to describe an unpleasant emotional state or condition which is characterized by subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, and worry. In sports context it is commonly known as pre-competition stress or anxiety. Each year, millions of people participate in competitive sport activities. For many athletes, these activities can be filled with anxiety and fear manifested in many ways including; fear of failure, fear of societal consequences, and worry about not living up to the expectations, indicated that enjoyment, performance, interactions with teammates, coaches, and officials, and disposition to injury are each influenced by different types of anxiety. Further, research indicated that anxiety has a negative effect on these sport outcomes (Terry & Slade, 1995).

Athletes who are involved in competitive sport can expect to be placed regularly under intense physical and psychological demands. These demands require athletes to use not only the technical and tactical skills that they have developed but also cognitive and behavioural coping skills, in order to achieve performance success and satisfaction (Crocker, Alderman, & Smith, 1988).

Stress can affect athletes in ways other than their sport performance. Some drop out of sport because they find athletic competition to be threatening rather than enjoyable (Gould, Feltz, Horn & Weiss, 1982). The manifestations of anxiety have been shown to have numerous negative effects on performance. (Yoo et al., 1996) indicated that anxiety is an influential variable in reducing cue-utilization and attentional processes of motor-task performance. These findings are supported by (Lee, Kim, Yang, and Chung, 1992) and (Graham-Jones and Cale, 1989) who also found that forms of anxiety reduced elements of motor performance (i.e., reaction time and percepto-motor speed respectively).

An emerging theory that provides a comprehensive account of the mechanisms behind the effects of anxiety on performance, including the proposed changes in attention, is attentional control theory, which has recently been developed on the basis of processing efficiency theory. Although attentional control theory and processing efficiency theory are claimed to have most relevance to cognitive performance, several studies have provided empirical support for the processing efficiency theory with respect to perceptual-motor tasks (Nieuwenhuys et al., 2008).

Consistency in psychological factors is widely regarded to be important for successful performance in team sports (Ranglin et. al., 1994). Pre-competition and during competition stress rises in today’s sports world. Anxiety and stress decreases the concentration and performance level of sports persons (Solberg et. al., 1996).

Pre-competition anxiety is a widely prevalent condition that exists among athletes of all levels and within every sport. Its relationship to performance has been studied both in and out of the sport context through test anxiety research (Liebert & Morris, 1967) and anxiety research with athletes (Chamberlain & Hale, 2007; Kais & Raudsepp, 2005; Swain & Jones, 1996).

(Stephen D Mellalieu et. al., 2009), findings suggest that, prior to competing, sport performers encounter more stressors pertinent to performance than those emanating from the organization, these observations highlight that all the demands faced by athletes should be considered when preparing and implementing interventions to manage competition stress.

Anti-Doping Agency code declares a drug illegal if it is perfor­mance enhancing, if it is a health risk, or if it violates the ''spirit of sport’’. The welfare of the athlete must be our primary concern. Performance enhancement is not against the spirit of sport; it is the spirit of sport. To choose to be better is to be human. Athletes should be the given this choice.

Anyone who has been a sport participant or observer has certainly observed certain athletes who tend to "peak" during competition and, at the same time, other athletes who tend to falter or "choke" in the same competitive situations. Research on how athletes cope with sport-related stress has been recognized for both its practical and its theoretical importance because of the debilitating effects that stress may have on athletic performance (Smith et al., 1998).

Sports medicine practitioners and athletic trainers have found that athletes who find competitive situations stressful or anxiety producing appear injury prone and/or seem to take longer to return to activity following injury.

(Smith et al., 1998), presented a conceptual model of sport performance anxiety. A significant component in their model is the athlete's cognitive appraisal of demands, resources, consequences, and personal meaning of consequences. A negative appraisal of these variables may lead the athlete to feel unprepared or ill equipped to handle the demands of the situation and fearful of the consequences a negative performance could mean. These feelings lead to an increase in athlete anxiety. For instance, a lack of attention to activities necessary for successful competition, such as forms of mental preparation, may leave the athlete feeling less than completely prepared and thereby increase anxiety. Despite the large body of research on pre-competition anxiety, our understanding of its relationship to performance remains elusive.

Sport is an arena of achievement in which ability is publicly tested, scrutinized, and evaluated. Because of the debilitating effects that stress can have on performance, athletes must learn to cope with the demands and pressures of competition if they are to enjoy and succeed in sports. Research has been conducted to discover or identify the sources of stress in various competitive sports, including basketball (Madden, Summers and Brown, 2004), figure skating (Scanlan, Ravizza and Stein, 1989), college baseball (Anshel et al., 1978), golf (Cohn, 1990), and wrestling (Gould, Eklund, and Jackson, 1988). Athletes have identified several sources of acute stress in team activities; receiving unpleasant input from peers, fans, coaches, experiencing pain or injury, making a physical or mental error, receiving a "bad" call from an official, and receiving negative feedback from the coach.

Past research has demonstrated correlations between cognitive anxiety intensity, somatic anxiety intensity, and self-confidence (Martens et al., 1990; Swain & Jones, 1996). In a study examining basketball and volleyball players, a significant negative correlation emerged between intensity and direction of both anxiety types (Kais & Raudsepp, 2005).

(Jones & Swain, 1995) suggested that athletes in explosive sports perceive anxiety as facilitative to performance, whereas athletes involved in sports requiring fine motor skills and lasting longer may perceive anxiety as debilitating to performance. The complex nature of basketball, therefore, may contribute to the lack of clear relationships between anxiety, self-confidence, and performance. Specifically, as cognitive and somatic anxiety increased in intensity, self-confidence decreased. These findings indicate that negative thoughts such as worry or fear, as well as the bodily responses to anxiety, impair self confidence.

(Mark et al., 2007) done a study to determine athletes’ sources of acute stress (SAS) perceived as highly intense and experienced during the competitive event, their respective coping styles (CS) for two different (highly intense) stress sources (SAS), the relationship between the acute stressors and their CS (approach and avoidance coping in cognitive and behavioral forms), results showed that general CS was significantly related to general sources of acute stress. Structural equation models indicated that the athletes’ coping styles were positively related to their respective acute stressors category. The results of the analyses indicated valid and reliable relationships between CS and SAS among the athletes. The results indicated that athletes who experienced intense coach-related acute stress were more likely to use primarily an approach-behavior CS followed by the other CS.

A recent meta-analysis examined the effects of competitive anxiety and self-confidence on athletic performance (Craft, Magyar, Becker, and Feltz, 2003). From this analysis, the authors con­cluded that a weak relationship appears to exist between competitive anxiety, self-confidence, and athletic performance. Some studies are showing relationship between personality traits and anxiety response (trait anxiety).

(Mellalieu et al., 2009) findings suggest that, prior to competing, sport performers encounter more stressors pertinent to performance than those emanating from the organization, these observations highlight that all the demands faced by athletes should be considered when preparing and implementing interventions to manage competition stress.

Anxiety in athletes may also affect the relationships between athlete and coach. Study indicated that anxiety in athletes influences their evaluation of coaching behaviours. Athletes who were more anxious and less confident were found to evaluate coaching behaviours more negatively (Kenow and Williams, 1992). The above studies clearly indicate the relationships between anxiety and both sport performance and athlete perceptions.

Traditionally, researchers focused exclusively on anxiety intensity as a predictor of performance. Reduction in “negative” affective states such as anxiety, and/or increases in self-confidence, does not consistently result in significant increases in athletic performance (Burton, 1989).

Due to contradictory results regarding the predictive value of anxiety intensity on performance, however, (Jones & Swain, 1992) emphasized the impact that interpretation of anxiety may have on performance (i.e., an athlete's perception of anxiety as facilitative or debilitative to performance). Through implementing (Jones & Swain, 1992) subscale, researchers have demonstrated that a directional component of anxiety, or a determination of the perception of anxiety as debilitative or facilitative to performance, is generally a greater predictor of performance than intensity (Kais & Raudsepp, 2004; Swain & Jones, 1996).

Researchers also have studied anxiety and performance across several sports and various levels of experience. Studies with triathletes (Lane, Terry, and Karageorghis, 1995), beach volleyball players (Kais & Raudsepp, 2004), indicated no significant correlation between anxiety intensity and athletic performance.

Several researchers have used questionnaires to study the effect of each anxiety construct on athletic performance, but have produced contradictory results (Chamberlain & Hale, 2007; Edwards & Hardy, 1996; Parfitt and Pates, 1999; Taylor, 1987). As (Gould, Petlichkoff, Simons, and Vevera, 1987) observed, the contradictory results may be attributed to inconsistencies among research methodologies. For example, some researchers have employed subjective measures of performance such as self-reports (Edwards & Hardy, 1996), whereas others have used outcome-based (i.e., win/loss) performance measures (Gould, Petlichkoff, and Weinberg, 1984). Furthermore, results may be sport-specific, in responding to these issues, (Sonstroem and Bernardo, 1982) suggested the use of comprehensive and objective performance measurements within a single sport. Majority of all these studies measured the anxiety by subjective questioners, so it is indeed to establish by physiological means.

(Julien E. Bois et al., 2009), examined parental influence on athletes' pre-competitive anxiety in basketball and tennis players before an official competition. Analysis of variance indicated that the presence of both parents was associated with higher pre-competitive anxiety for all participants, except male tennis players. The absence of both parents did not result in less anxiety. This study supports the presence of pre-competitive anxiety in sports arena especially in children and adolescents. (Kais & Raudsepp, 2004) studied beach volleyball players and found a positive linear correlation between both cognitive and somatic anxiety direction and performance. Although there seem to be differences between sports, there exists a paucity of research within each sport.

The mild and high levels of anxiety that were found can be compared to anxiety levels experienced by students about to enter a written examination (Houtman & Bakker, 1989), novice teachers at the start of their first lecture (Houtman, 1990), or athletes just prior to competition (Bakker et al., 2003). As an example, mean anxiety scores reported by individual and team athletes were 5.5 and 4.2, respectively. Similar means (generally ranging between 4 and 5) were found for athletes prior to competition by (Krane, 1994).

Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands, for many people, stress are so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help to perform under pressure and motivate to do the best, but when anybody constantly running in emergency mode, their mind and body pay the price. If one frequently find one self feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring the nervous system back into balance and can protect by learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

Consistency in psychological factors is widely regarded to be important for successful performance in team sports (Ranglin et al., 1994). Pre competition and during competition stress rises in today’s sports world. Anxiety and stress decreases the concentration and performance level of sports persons (Solberg et al., 1996).

Experienced Vs Novice Response to Stress or Anxiety;

(Annett and Kay, 1956) Studies have been drawn a distinction between experts and novices by showing that a skilled person has more time to act. (Mononen et al., 2003a), Elite shooters are more capable of keeping their rifles more stable during the aiming period compared to novices as their body oscillations are much smaller.

(McPherson S, 1993) Research comparing experts and novices points to the fact that experts are able to search a visual display faster and are also able to extract the necessary information to execute the task. (Rose, 1990) Differences in perceptual and cognitive characteristics have been used to differen­tiate expert (or elite) and novice (or sub-elite) performers. Shooting eye contrast sensitivity in males and females as well as focus and concentration for males may be the most critical components relative to shooting performance.

In search for an explanation for choking under pressure-induced anxiety, it has been proposed that anxiety is accompanied by changes in attention. On the one hand, these changes may involve changes to internal processes characterized by elevated levels of self-consciousness often in the form of more worries and self-focused attention (Wilson & Smith, 2007).

On the other hand, the changes may concern visual attention, with less efficient gaze behaviour manifesting itself in higher search rates and shorter quiet eye durations. These attentional changes may distract from primary task execution, leading to hampered performance (Oudejans, 2009). Studies have been proved, experienced athletes having less anxiety during the competition than the novice. This showing the correlation that the capacity to control the anxiety in experienced athletes is higher thus ultimately that enhances the sports performance.

The relationship between pre-competition anxiety, self-confidence, and athletic performance is a prevalent topic in the sport psychology literature. For decades, researchers have attempted to understanding the predictive value of cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence on performance. Investigators initially focused on the 'intensity' of these constructs before incorporating the concept of 'direction'. The aforementioned research has been conducted within a variety of sports, including basketball, shooting etc.


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Music as Therapy in Sports - An Evidence Based Approach
An Evidence Based Approach
King Saud University
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music, therapy, sports, evidence, based, approach
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Shaji Kachanathu (Author), 2013, Music as Therapy in Sports - An Evidence Based Approach, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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