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Can Anxiety Be a Good thing?

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Although there are several theories proposed to describe the anxiety/performance relationship, it is yet unclear if anxiety is solely debilitative to performance or if anxiety can also be perceived as facilitative. Is there a facilitative influence of anxiety? Why or why not?




When we look at the world of sports, for example, anxiety is almost never

characterized as a positive trait to have (at least for a prolonged period of

time). Constant states of anxiety tends to lean toward poor performance,

hesitation, and the proverbial 'choking' that is exhibited in critical situations

during the span of a game and/or performance. Recently, I was working with a

major-league pitcher who was a part of a World Series championship team. He

has all the tools in the world, and is highly talented. With that being said, he

had a problem with channeling his anxiety before outings. In his practices,

bullpens, and sessions before he pitched, he was perfectly fine, noting the

different mental processes he had to go through to get it 'right'. For whatever

reason, the adrenaline and anxiety was not properly channeled and led to

unwanted outcomes.


Although there is overwhelming evidence that anxiety has a debilitative affect

on many performers, I believe that anxiety when properly channeled can be a

facilitative means to an end.


“Although there is overwhelming evidence that anxiety has a debilitative affect on many performers, I believe that anxiety when properly channeled can be a facilitative means to an end." -Josiah Igono


Drive theory, for instance, postulates that the presence of an audience actually induces drive and heightens all responses in the given situation (Weiss & Miller, 1971). A nervous football player, within the context of drive theory, can make his first bone crushing tackle early in the game and subsequently feed off of the energy from the audience to continually

play well.



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