Journal of sports sciences vol:24 issue:2 pages:157-164
The purpose of the present study was to investigate competitive anxiety during balance beam performance in gymnasts. Competitive anxiety was assessed continuously by heart rate monitoring and by retrospective self-report of nervousness in eight female national level gymnasts during their balance beam routine during one competition and two training sessions. A significant negative correlation was found between the score of the retrospective self-report of nervousness and performance during the routine. There were no significant differences in performance score by the judges between the three test sessions. There were also no differences in the retrospective self-report of nervousness. However, heart rate was significantly higher during the competition session than during the training sessions. The potential value of the retrospective report of nervousness for the study of critical events during gymnastic performance is illustrated. The results are discussed in the light of catastrophe theory.