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Studies of motivation have focused on optimum arousal levels for athletes.
Mostly such studies have corroborated existing research on arousal by relating peak performance to a moderate, optimum arousal level, with performance diminishing if arousal is either increased or decreased from that level.
(It was found that aggressive sports tend to increase rather than diminish hostility and aggression.) The social dynamics of team sports have also been studied.
Psychological theories from other subfields, such as social psychology and behavioral psychology, have been applied successfully to the study of sports and recreation.
The common behavior of coaches, even successful ones, is disproportionately composed of scolding and "hustling," or urging on, rather than providing supportive feedback.
Another finding that goes against conventional wisdom is that team cohesiveness in team-oriented sports does not necessarily lead to top performance.
Positive results have been reported in enhancing performance and controlling anxiety. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801, (217) 333–6563.
Negative effects of excess arousal include inefficient movement patterns and loss of sensitivity to environmental cues.
In successful athletes, the ability to control arousal and focus attention has proven to be as important as the level of arousal itself.
Individual differences within a sport have also been studied.
One instrument devised for this type of investigation is the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT), developed by Rainer Martens, which measures levels of anxiety in competitive sport.