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Cognitive Anxiety and Somatic Anxiety in Sports: Everything You Need to Know About Those Mental Disorders



Athletes may suffer from anxiety for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be due to the pressures of competition or the fear of failure. Others may feel anxious about their physical abilities or how they will be perceived by others.

Whatever the cause, competitive state anxiety can have a negative impact on an athlete’s performance. It can lead to doubts and second-guessing, which can interfere with focus and concentration. Additionally, anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, and shallow breathing, which can make it difficult to maintain peak performance.

Cognitive anxiety tends to be more focused on our thoughts and emotions, whereas somatic anxiety tends to be more connected to the physical symptoms we experience in stressful situations. This means that cognitive anxiety often manifests itself as worrying or nervousness, while somatic anxiety usually involves things like a racing heart or tense muscles.

Fortunately, there are techniques that athletes can use to manage anxiety and improve their chances of success. With proper support and guidance, athletes can learn to control their anxiety and perform at their best.

Sport Psychology and Competitive Anxiety

Sport psychology is a relatively new field that has emerged in response to the rapid growth of sports around the world.

As athletes compete on a more frequent and intense basis, there is an increased need to understand and address the factors that can impact performance. One area of particular concern for athletes is competitive state anxiety, or the fear and worry that often arises just before competition.

Sport psychologists understand that competitive anxiety affects individuals differently, depending on their unique psychological makeup, preparation levels, and environmental conditions. Their goal is therefore to develop effective strategies for managing this anxiety so that it does not negatively impact athletes’ performance.

By enhancing self-confidence, improving pre-competition routines, and developing stress management techniques, sport psychologists are able to help athletes minimize the burden of competitive anxiety so they can remain focused and confident as they step onto the field or court. Ultimately, this helps them achieve success both individually and as part of a team.

What is Cognitive Anxiety?

Cognitive anxiety is a type of competitive state anxiety that occurs when an athlete starts to think about the potential consequences of performing poorly.

This negative thought process can cause a feedback loop, wherein the athlete’s doubts and worries begin to spiral out of control, leading to even more self-doubt and insecurity. Because cognitive anxiety can affect performance by increasing stress levels and impeding focus and concentration, it is important for athletes to learn how to manage these negative thoughts.

While these competitive anxiety symptoms may seem like they would impede athletic performance, research has shown that cognitive anxiety can actually improve performance in certain situations.

For example, athletes who thrive under high levels of cognitive anxiety are often able to maintain focus under pressure and ultimately perform better than those who have less intense levels of stress or tension.

Therefore, while competitive trait anxiety can feel disruptive in some situations, it often acts as an important source of motivation for athletes looking to excel in their sport.

Cognitive Anxiety Treatment

When athletes suffer from cognitive anxiety, also known as competitive anxiety, and experience performance-related concerns such as stage fright, they can undergo a variety of different treatment options to help them overcome these obstacles.

One popular approach is known as sport psychology, which typically involves working one-on-one with a trained psychologist and implementing various cognitive-behavioral techniques to reprogram negative thought patterns and overcome mental blocks.

Other therapies that have been found to be effective in reducing cognitive anxiety in athletes include EMDR, mindfulness training, hypnosis, and neurofeedback.

Through a combination of these strategies, it is possible for athletes to overcome the detrimental effects of cognitive anxiety and reach their full potential on the field.

What is Somatic Anxiety?

Somatic anxiety, unlike cognitive anxiety, is a type of sport performance anxiety that manifests physically. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, sweating, shaky hands, and difficulty catching your breath.

For athletes, somatic anxiety can be a particular problem because it can interfere with the smooth execution of movements. When your body is tense and your mind is racing, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand and perform at your best.

Unfortunately, somatic anxiety is often exacerbated by the pressure to succeed. Athletes may feel like they have to win in order to prove their worth, which only adds to the pressure and heightens the physical symptoms.

The key to managing somatic anxiety is to find ways to relax both the body and mind. That may involve deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, or simply taking some time to stay calm before the competition.

Somatic Anxiety Treatment

As an athlete, one of the most important things to understand is how to cope with somatic anxiety. Somatic anxiety refers to anxiety symptoms that are experienced primarily as physical sensations in the body, such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain or tightness.

Some common strategies for managing these symptoms include deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and practicing mindfulness.

Additionally, some people find that engaging in regular physical activity such as running or lifting weights can help reduce their stress and improve their mood. Another useful strategy is to talk to a therapist about your experiences with anxiety, so that you can learn more effective coping strategies and develop a plan for addressing your symptoms.

Whether you are just starting out as an athlete or are an experienced competitor, it is crucial to be proactive in treating your somatic anxiety. Finding your way to relax your body and overcome anxiety is a key to keep performance level high when needed and do not break down under the pressure. Many athletes test various methods to fight this problem. Some reach for betting and place some sporta likmes/ sport bets to relax, test their theoretical knowledge about sports and gross some cash, others meditate or experiment in the kitchen while cooking. Many find their comfort with family or animals or even video games.

Multidimensional Anxiety Theory

Multidimensional Anxiety Theory is a theoretical framework known to be an important component in the development and success of athletes.

According to this theory, anxiety is not just one thing, but rather it can take many different forms based on situational factors and each person’s individual tendencies.

For example, some individuals may experience only somatic symptoms like heart palpitations or stomach aches, while others may experience higher levels of cognitive symptoms like intrusive thoughts or forgetting key details about their performance.

Overall, this theory provides valuable insight into the sources and potential remedies for anxiety among athletes, helping them to succeed both in and out of competition.


In conclusion, cognitive and somatic anxiety both play a role in sports performance. While cognitive anxiety can negatively impact performance by leading to worries and doubts, somatic anxiety can provide a boost of adrenaline that can help an athlete to push themselves harder.

However, both forms of anxiety can become excessive and lead to issues such as reduced coordination and focus. It is therefore important for athletes to learn how to manage their anxiety in order to perform at their best.

Source: Glusea