Student Author(s)

Cody Brumm

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Margaret Frens

Document Type


Event Date



This is a rapid evidence assessment on the topic of anxiety in athletes, also known as performance anxiety. Anxiety is defined as a negative emotional reaction that results from experiencing a demanding situation and appraising it as a threat. The physiology behind anxiety is complex. The amygdala and bed nucleus of the striaterminals, located in the frontal lobe, send signals to the locus ceruleus, located in the parietal lobe, and combined they are responsible for the emotions behind the fear response or the “fight or flight” response. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland cause the adrenal gland to produce cortisol and adrenaline, boosting the sympathetic nervous system. Anxiety plagues many athletes through cognitive thought and somatic bodily functions. Cognitive anxiety is disruptive in athletics because mental resources are being used inefficiently. Somatic arousal is necessary in athletics because it enhances reaction speed of decision making as well as physical reactions. Types of anxiety include state anxiety, which is caused by external sources, and trait anxiety caused by internal sources. Some athletes suffer from state anxiety, which can be deemed moment-to-moment or situational, or trait anxiety, which is innate and psychologically driven. An athlete’s ego can positively or negatively affect the outcome or degree of their anxiety. Methods to alleviate and accommodate for anxiety are also reviewed.