Skip to main content

A theory of challenge and threat states in athletes

Jones, Marc V., Meijen, Carla, McCarthy, Paul J., Sheffield, David (2009) A theory of challenge and threat states in athletes. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2 (2). pp. 161-180. ISSN 1750-9858. (doi:10.1080/17509840902829331) (KAR id:26252)


We propose a Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes (TCTSA) which is an amalgamation and extension of the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat, the model of adaptive approaches to competition and the debilitative and facilitative competitive state anxiety model. In the TCTSA we posit that selfefficacy,

perceptions of control, and achievement goals determine challenge or threat states in response to competition. Distinct patterns of neuroendocrine and cardiovascular responses are indicative of a challenge or threat state. Increases in epinephrine and cardiac activity, and a decrease in total peripheral vascular resistance (TPR) characterise a challenge state and increases in cortisol, smaller increases in cardiac activity and either no change or an increase in TPR characterise a threat state. Positive and negative emotions can occur in a challenge state while a threat state is associated with negative emotions only. Emotions are perceived as helpful to performance in a challenge state but not in a threat state. Challenge and threat states influence effort, attention, decision?making and physical functioning and accordingly sport performance. The TCTSA provides a framework for practitioners to enhance performance, through developing a challenge state, and encourages researchers to explore the mechanisms underlying

performance in competition.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/17509840902829331
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: C. Meijen
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 15:35 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Meijen, Carla.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.