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Trait anxiety and coping strategies among ballet dancers

Gene Margaret Barrell, Peter Charles Terry
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 18 Number 2: Page 59 (June 2003)

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Abstract: Abstract'This study examined relationships between competitive trait anxiety and coping strategies among ballet dancers. Participants were 104 classical dancers (81 females and 23 males) ranging in age from 15 to 35 years (mean 19.4 years; SD 3.8 years) from three professional ballet companies, two private dance schools, and two university dance courses in Australia. Participants completed the Modified COPE scale and the Sport Anxiety Scale. Trait anxiety scores, in particular for somatic anxiety and worry, were significant predictors of 7 of the 12 coping strategies (wishful thinking, R2 = 42.3%; self-blame, R2 = 35.7%; suppression of competing activities, R2 = 27.1%; venting of emotions, R2 = 23.2%; denial, R2 = 17.7%; effort, R2 = 16.6%; active coping, R2 = 14.3%). Approximately 96% of dancers could be classified correctly as high or low trait-anxious from their reported coping style. No significant effects of gender or status (professional versus students) were found. Findings showed that high trait-anxious athletes tend to use more maladaptive, emotion-focused coping strategies compared with low trait-anxious athletes, a tendency that has been proposed to lead to negative performance effects. Dancers who are by nature anxious about performance may need special attention to help them to learn to cope with performance-related stress.

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