Emma Mosley: Transforming stress in athletes: Exploring the psycho-physiological constructs of a positive approach to stress in high performing athletes

Researcher: Emma Mosley

My name is Emma Mosley and I am a recent graduate from Bournemouth University. I received a First Class Hons degree in Sport Psychology and Coaching Sciences and was awarded a PhD scholarship which has enabled me to start my research journey at the University. I am immersed in sport, not only as a player and researcher, but as a        practitioner and I have recently started training to become a sport and exercise scientist. I have been fortunate enough to be part of the Ceremony team at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics where my enthusiasm for this field grew.

My research is involved with the psycho-physiological manifestations of competition stress and how they can be altered to facilitate athletic performance. The sporting environment is saturated with stressors, suggesting that the stress response is an integral part of competitive sporting performance. Research proposes that individual athletes perceive their stress and anxiety symptoms differently, in that some will interpret the symptoms as helpful or          facilitative to performance and others will perceive them as unhelpful or debilitative to performance. However very little evidence has been documented about how these perceptions of competition can alter the physiological           reaction to stress. I will be using a mixed methods approach because of the psycho-physiological nature of the thesis. In doing this the quantifiable components (physiology) and non-quantifiable components (athletes              interpretation and psychological processes) can be mutually acknowledged within the research.

If the current research can further prove the predictions of the positive approach literature, practitioners can begin to use this approach as an intervention for athletes. As in, if a positive approach to stress is associated with a          superior physiological response then coaches, managers and sport psychologists should be mindful that adopting a positive approach to stress can have beneficial effects on performance. Ultimately if the nature of the psycho-physiological stress process within athletes can be truly understood, then this can be applied to psychological       interventions with the critical aim of improving sports performance.