Sports performance has been constantly improving with new technology. Ideas and theories for improved training and new techniques and fresh drills have been developed to benefit the athlete and their performance ability (Raglin et al., 1990). Tactics include enhancing confidence and reducing athletes' anxiety for more compelling performances (Raglin et al., 1990). Research has also discovered that athletes' poor performance can sometimes be related to high levels of anxiety (Raglin and Turner, 1992).
Research has found a relationship between emotional stress and the consistency of individual competitive performance and that athletes with poor performance indicated more emotional stress when compared with the athletes with good performance (Turner and Raglin, 1995). Anxiety most often leads to uncontrollable feelings of inadequacy, worry, “butterflies in the tummy” feelings, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and negativity. It can also produce positive or negative thoughts from present or past competitions, which affect the athlete's level of confidence in their abilities (Martens et al., 1990).
According to Martens (1977), anxiety is the reaction brought upon by an environmental demand and can be interpreted as intimidating by the individual. The multidimensional theory of anxiety has been given much attention because of the highly investigated relationship between anxiety and athletic performance (Krane and Williams, 1987). The athletes' performance decreases when anxiety levels are exceedingly high or when they fall below the normal range.
The optimum track and field performance anxiety levels vary depending upon the events' requirement for physical power and muscle mass increase (Raglin et al., 1990). Unlike distance running that only requires the athlete to run, events like shot put, pole vault, and triple jump require higher anxiety levels because the events have more elements involved with moving the body weight at the right time with the right force (Turner and Raglin, 1995). Track and field athletes have been said to be at their best performance when their anxiety level is high for middle distances (200–400 m) and low for short sprints (100 m) or long distances (1–2 miles) (Landers and Boutcher, 1986).
Athletes' anxiety can be defined and measured in two different ways: cognitive vs. somatic. Cognitive anxiety is related to an athlete's negative expectations, consequences of failure, and the evaluation of his/her ability relative to others. Cognitive anxiety has been shown to exert a strong influence on the performance of the athlete regardless of the individual athlete's physical ability (Humara, 2001). Cognitive anxiety has also been shown to cause negative concerns about performance, disrupted attention, and a lack of concentration. Somatic anxiety is associated more with physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as butterflies in the stomach, excessive sweating, shakiness, and muscle cramps (Krane and Williams, 1987; Martens et al., 1990). Studies have shown that, typically, better athletic performance is because of either low levels of cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety or high levels of confidence (Krane and Williams, 1987; Martens et al., 1990; Rodrigo et al., 1990). An athlete's confidence has been said to be affected by his/her ability to use imagery for mental toughness and his/her ability to focus after a mistake (Abma et al., 2002).
Research has suggested psychological benefits from interactions with nature and green spaces. Hartig and Evans (1993) brought attention to theories focused on the positive effects of nature on human well-being. Studies have also suggested that plants affect people's quality of life and that plants promote positive thoughts when people are in the presence of plants (Larsen et al., 1998; Waliczek et al., 1996, 2005). Research has provided evidence that plants, trees, shrubs, and naturalized areas are beneficial to people by reducing stress and through the renewal of the mind (Ulrich, 1984). Natural settings have more restorative effects on people's emotional state in comparison with urban settings (Ulrich et al., 1991), which explains why wilderness areas or urban parks are often chosen by people for retreats during stressful times (Hartig and Evans, 1993). Positive feelings can be invoked through landscapes with natural elements like vegetation and water, which all help to reduce high stress to moderate levels (Fredrickson and Levenson, 1998). Natural scenes are known to be more restorative if human-made objects such as cars or buildings are inconspicuous or absent (Ulrich, 1983).
The main objective of this study was to determine if the level of greenery and landscaping at track and field competition sites influenced collegiate athletes' performance and/or anxiety levels.
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