The relationship between emotional intelligence, anxiety, coping skills and psychological skill levels in South African female field-hockey players
The competitive game of field-hockey is filled with high-pressure situations, in which physical and psychological demands are required for achieving sport excellence. Due to the specific nature of hockey, players have to cope with certain demands which will have an impact on their performance and overall psychological well-being. Players’ physical attributes are of utmost importance for high-level sport participation. However, psychological factors are often the determining factor in sport success and excellence. Literature regarding the psychological skills of hockey seems to be well-documented. However, limited to no literature is available pertaining to the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI), competitive state anxiety, coping skills and psychological skills application in female hockey players. Based on the limited research, the following research questions were formulated: 1) What is the relationship between EI and components of competitive state anxiety levels among female field-hockey players from South Africa? (Article 1), 2) What is the relationship between EI and coping skill levels among female field-hockey players from South Africa? (Article 2), and 3) What is the relationship between EI and psychological skills application among South African female field-hockey players? (Article 3). The objectives of the study were subsequently formulated as follows: 1) To determine the relationship between EI (perception of emotions, managing own emotions, managing others’ emotions and utilisation of emotions subscales) and components of competitive state anxiety levels (cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence) among female field-hockey players from South Africa; 2) To determine the relationship between EI (perception of emotions, managing own emotions, managing others’ emotions and utilisation of emotions subscales) and coping skill levels (coping with adversity, coachability, concentration, confidence, goal setting, mental preparation, peaking under pressure, freedom from worry and total coping ability) among female field-hockey players from South Africa; and 3) To determine the relationship between EI (perception of emotions, managing own emotions, managing others’ emotions and utilisation of emotions subscales) and psychological skills application (achievement motivation, goal setting, anxiety control, maintaining confidence, concentration, mental rehearsal subscales and total sport psychological skills application) among South African female field-hockey players. The convenient sample consisted of sixty senior-level female (average age: 21.57±3.65 years) field-hockey players from South Africa. All players completed a demographic questionnaire iv together with four self-reported questionnaires, namely the Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS), the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2), the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28) and the Psychological Skills Inventory (PSI). With regard to the first objective, the findings indicated an above-average level for total EI, a low cognitive/somatic anxiety with self-confidence being low to moderate. Players also perceived their cognitive and somatic anxiety to be neutral (neither facilitative nor debilitative) to performance, while self-confidence was perceived as facilitative to performance. Furthermore, significantly positive correlations were found between managing own and others’ emotions as well as total EI and self-confidence. Managing own and others’ emotions were significantly negatively associated with cognitive anxiety. In addition to this, the linear regression analyses indicated total EI to be a significant predictor of the players’ self-confidence. Second objective – Overall, the players reported a higher than average level of coping ability. Likewise, the findings indicated that players’ non-verbal recognition and expression of emotions (perception of emotions) were significantly and positively associated with the ability to cope with adversity and level of concentration. The findings further suggested that when players know how to manage their own emotions, their confidence and achievement motivation are likely to increase, amidst a noted decrease in their level of coachability. Players’ management of others’ emotions associated positively with confidence and achievement motivation and total coping skill scores. Furthermore, a significant positive association was observed between players’ ability to utilise their emotions and their coachability. Essentially, the findings from the linear regression analyses indicated EI to be a strong predictor of coping ability. Third objective – Overall, the players reported a higher than average level of psychological skills application. Also, several significant correlations were noted between players’ dimensions of EI and psychological skills (concentration, achievement motivation, maintaining confidence, goal setting and mental rehearsal) with EI demonstrating a strong predictive utility on players’ level of psychological skills application. In conclusion, the findings in the present study suggest that EI plays a key role in controlling cognitive anxiety, improving and maintaining confidence, enhancing overall coping skill ability and total psychological skills in hockey players. Emotional intelligence therefore is considered a worthy contributor in psychological profiling of players. Overall, the present study provides a strong basis for exploring EI interventions in sports to combat uncontrollable competitive state anxiety, and facilitate coping ability and psychological skills application.
- Health Sciences