Exploring attention and emotional experience among youth sport performers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Objectives: This two-part study explored the effect of emotions on cognitive interference, concentration disruption, and performance in youth sport.
Design: We adopted a non-experimental cross-sectional design.
Methods: In Study 1, data were collected from 150 youth sport athletes representing the sampling and specializing years of sport participation (Mage = 13.13, SD = 1.79). Participants completed measures of emotion, cognitive interference, and concentration disruption for their most recently completed competition. In Study 2, 46 female rhythmic gymnasts (Mage = 10.30, SD = 1.74) completed measures of emotion immediately before competition, and measures of cognitive interference and concentration disruption immediately after competition.
Results: Study 1 showed that anxiety and dejection were associated with greater cognitive interference and concentration disruption, whereas the effects of anger and happiness on cognitive interference differed relative to the age of participants. Specifically, anger was more influential in the sampling years and happiness more influential in the specializing years. Study 2 showed that emotions experienced before competition were not strongly associated with cognitive interference, but thoughts of escape experienced during competition predicted competition success as measured by objective performance scores.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that cognitive interference can impair performance in youth sport, and that emotional control strategies might help combat the negative effects of cognitive interference on sport performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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