The effect of self- and interpersonal emotion regulation on athletes’ anxiety and goal achievement in competition

Katherine A. Tamminen*, Jeemin Kim, Chad Danyluck, Carolyn E. McEwen, Christopher R. D. Wagstaff, Svenja A. Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objectives: There exists a wealth of evidence that athletes must regulate their emotions for optimal performance and wellbeing. In addition to athletes’ attempts to regulate their own emotions, they may also attempt to regulate each other's emotions (interpersonal emotion regulation). Though self- and interpersonal emotion regulation likely co-occur, previous research has not explored how these strategies concurrently impact athletes’ emotions and performance outcomes. In the current study, we examined whether athletes’ emotional self-regulation and the receipt of interpersonal emotion regulation from their teammates were related to their anxiety and goal achievement during competition. 

Design: Quantitative, cross-sectional retrospective survey design. Method: Data were gathered following sport competitions from 509 participants from 50 interdependent sport teams from Canada and the UK (Mage = 19.0, SD = 3.1). 

Results: Analysis of the data using structural equation modeling revealed that after accounting for pre-competition anxiety, received interpersonal emotion regulation was not associated with anxiety during competition, though affect-worsening self-regulation was positively associated with anxiety during competition. Received interpersonal emotion regulation was also not associated with goal achievement, yet affect-improving and affect-worsening self-regulation were associated with goal achievement. Nevertheless, when the influence of emotional self-regulation on anxiety and goal achievement was set to zero, affect-improving and affect-worsening interpersonal emotion regulation were associated with anxiety during competition and affect-improving interpersonal emotion regulation was associated with goal achievement. 

Conclusions: These data can be interpreted as evidence that emotion regulation actions between teammates are important for anxiety and performance outcomes, albeit this effect is attenuated in the presence of athletes’ own emotional self-regulation. These results extend the extant research on self- and interpersonal emotion regulation in sport, and in line with these observations, we highlight a number of future research opportunities for researchers examining emotion regulation in performance contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102034
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • competition
  • emotion
  • emotion regulation
  • sport performance


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